An explanation of the title of this blog...

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Not the only blog...

I've noticed that if I comment on someone else's blog, usually of the crafting variety, and they come to my part of Blogland to see who I am, they often arrive here and leave a message, rather than going to my craft blog. Do I need to put a big flashing arrow somewhere? Even one of my daughters only thinks to check this one....

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Good Book

Every now and then, you come across a book that you want to shout about. A book you want to read again the minute you have finished it for the first time, then squirrel away for a time in the future when you need to be totally absorbed...

Such a book is The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards, published by Penguin.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Here comes Summer....

...and I'm not ready. After months and months of unsettled, unseasonable weather, the thermometer has hit the mid 30s, and I still have a wardrobe stocked with trousers and fleeces, and my drawers are full of sweaters. Tomorrow I shall get down the boxes from the top shelf in the hall cupboard and replace trousers with shorts and skirts, and sweaters with thin tops. I'll spend a morning washing woollies before packing them away until October, and probably have to fill a couple of bags with clothes for the charity shop when I find I can't fasten last year's waistbands. As most of them came from there in the first place, I shan't be much out of pocket. When I shall actually get to the Charity shop is another matter. The nearest weekend to the first of July is when the main body of tourists start to arrive. Parking space will be non existent as few of the blocks in the town have their own car park or underground garage. Blue zone street parking will fill with cars from Madrid getting dustier and dustier as the month progresses, the pile of pink parking tickets getting thicker under their windscreen wipers, as the parking girls make their rounds. The police tow truck is too busy trying to keep pace with the double parked cars and avert the frustration of the drivers of delivery vehicles who can't get through the congestion, to worry about towing away cars that don't have a valid parking ticket, but are not actually causing an obstruction. The local constabulary will get an extra 18 or 20 new recruits for the Summer season, whose sole responsibility will be to guard the yellow loading and unloading zones and keep them free from private vehicles and clear for deliveries. A visit to the PO to collect the mail will become a weekly rather than a daily event, and shopping will be restricted to an afternoon visit to the nearest supermarket when the hoards are on the beach or taking a siesta. Roll on September...and in the meantime I'll leave the car at home and use the bus pass...

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Back to normal...

...well, more or less; a Repsol tanker arrived to fill their petrol station tanks on Saturday morning. I'm not sure how the other one is doing as they have only had bio-diesel since the Friday before last, but at no time thought to put up a notice to let customers know they were wasting their time there if they wanted petrol...

The supermarkets haven't had much in the way of fresh salad or soft fruit all week, but the Saturday market had everything in abundance. All in all, it has turned out to be a relatively painless week for most people, with the exception of the dead and the maimed among the striking transportistas.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Just to prove...

...that not everything in my garden is blue or yellow...

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Flickr Search...

a. Type your answer to each of the questions below into Flickr Search.
b. Using only the first page, pick an image.
c. Copy and paste each of the URLs for the images into fd’s mosaic maker.

The Questions:

1. What is your first name?
2. What is your favourite food?
3. What high school did you go to?
4. What is your favourite colour?
5. Who is your celebrity crush?
6. Favourite drink?
7. Dream vacation?
8. Favourite dessert?
9. What you want to be when you grow up?
10. What do you love most in life?
11. One word to describe you.
12. Your flickr name.

1. A Tribute to the Lovely Josephine, 2. Hinamatsuri sushi, 3. 11980 - PRUSSIA COVE SUNRISE, CORNWALL, UK, 4. dandy drop, 5. Three little pigs, 6. vintage tea set with cupcake, 7. Main Garden, 8. cherry chocolate mousse, 9. 2 Ole Ladies, 10. Seeing...double?, 11. Glass Wall Wave (Sea Sculpture No.6), 12. Gaviota calpina en el Penon de Ifach (Calpe)

Monday, June 02, 2008

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Soggy Saturday

Was I the only one with my fingers crossed? I suppose the only consolation is that it is coming in from the sea, and the new wall is not bearing the brunt; Instead the newly painted rejas are...

Friday, May 30, 2008

...later the same day

...6pm to be precise;the inside plastered, and the outside having had a second coat of waterproof plaster. Now you all need to keep your fingers crossed that it doesn't rain until Monday...

Mañana mañana... what they usually say in Spain; but not always. On Wednesday evening, Ignacio called round because he had promised to rehang the the gates the next time he was in the area. Bossman asked him what he could do about stopping the rain driving into and under the front door when it rained. The budget won't stretch to anything major, and we have been known to struggle to raise a sun umbrella mid-storm in an effort to stop rainwater swelling the old wooden door. Out came his tape measure, and after a little calculation on the back of his hand, he said he could build us a wall in place of the old steel railing that would be narrow enough to still allow us to open the reja door. A window would put up the expense, but was still an option. Bossman showed Ignacio his stash of windows and frames salvaged from next door's reformation, and they were deemed suitable. A rough price having been agreed, Ignacio went to his van, came back with an angle grinder, removed a section of railing, fixed up some props, wired the balcony section back in position as a safety measure, then went to move the gate hinge brackets as promised.By lunchtime on Thursday, the wall was halfway finished.
By Thursday evening, wall and window were in place.
By lunchtime today, inside and out had been rendered, and as I type, Ignacio and son are applying the second coat of rough cast to the outside and a coat of white plaster to the inside, all the while keeping an eye on the big black clouds that are creeping ever nearer. The plan was that if it stayed dry, we could give it a couple of coats of paint on Sunday, before they came to take down the scaffolding on Monday, but if it rains before Sunday, the render won't be dry enough. Plan B is a roller on a broom handle...

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

We are painting...

...the rejas, as even the ones on the South side, protected from the rain by the overhang, are beginning to rust. This year it is Bossman's turn to do the fiddly curly bits with a brush, while I flash up and down the straight bits with a 3" x 1" roller.Four down, and a lot more to go...

Monday, May 12, 2008

Totty likes to....

NWM has been tagged. She claims not to have enough bloggerbuddies to pass on the tag, but has coined the term "open tag" and thrown it open to everyone.

It goes like this: you Google “[your name] likes to” and then cut and paste the results.

So, in the order they came up, Totty Teabag (only I used my realworld name) .....

.... likes to wear masks.

.... likes to be needed, as well as to cherish and protect her loved ones, of whom she is somewhat possessive.

When she is not working Totty likes to sing.

.... likes to pal around with Drew's younger siblings

....likes to pair hers with a striped, darted, button-up blouse that shows off the best part of yoga pants - no love handles.

.... likes to shove needles through her nose.

On her spare time, Totty likes to travel and experience different foods.

.... likes to use as her medium thread and textile.

.... likes to paint.

.... likes to work at night, which is great for my schedule.

....likes to be tied up and teased.

.... likes to look nice and often combs her hair-cap moss.

This last one made me curious. I followed the link: It led to a story about Totty Moss, friend of Linda Lichen, and is a mnemonic to learning the names of common mosses and lichens. The pdf. in question is about teaching pre-schoolers about squirrels and their natural habitat. I quote;

Prepare a stuffed animal squirrel so that it weighs 4 hg. Let the children hold and pat the
squirrel. If you don’t have a stuffed animal squirrel, use a bottle with 4 dl of water instead....

.....very thorough, the Swedes...

Friday, April 25, 2008

Too big for its boots

Since this orchid was moved out to the snug, it has gone from strength to strength. Its aerial roots have infiltrated the space between the inner and outer pots, they have grown down the outside of the outer pot and circled around the drip tray, and a few stray roots are making their way up under the window ledge. As you can see, this year there are three flower spikes. I haven't bothered to count the individual flowers, and a dozen or so have already dropped off, but last year there were 29 flowers on the single spike, and they lasted from June through to August.

Edit: Yesterday I uploaded a crop of this picture using Picasa. For some reason, it has flown off into cyberspace, so here is the original un-cropped picture uploaded the conventional way. Thanks for letting me know, Eve. I have now counted the flowers. There are 49, not counting uncoloured buds, or the dozen or so that have already fallen off.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

More blue and a little lemon

My tulips have failed this year. A few impoverished leaves, and no sign of a flower stem. I'm blaming Ivan the Bulgarian and his need to tidy away straggling leaves before they have finished their work of replenishing the bulbs. He won't be satisfied until the garden is a bare earth and gravel waste that he can control with herbicide and a pair of secateurs. The yellow Jasmine has no flowers, and the Bottle Brush has no brushes, thanks to his trimming at the wrong time. Enough of the griping; What do we have? We have this:

I can't remember what it's called, it lost its label years ago. The flowers open a saturated purple, then fade through blue to purest white. it sits in a pot on the other side of the blue door from the Clematis.

Some of the largest plants in the garden are the sage bushes. On average they are two metres in diameter, and at the moment are densely covered in the pinky-purple spikes that the bees love. I like to deadhead these bushes with the secateurs, cutting each stem back to a leaf joint, and taking out old wood. The lavender on the other hand, responds well to a haircut with electric hedge clippers, just after the flowers have gone over, and soon sends up a new flush of flower spikes from its neatly trimmed dome.

Here's the lemon from the title; the first of the lilies has opened. I have tried growing these in the open garden, but they don't like it. They are happy in their spot at the back of the house, where they catch the early morning sun, but spend most of the day in the shade. They grow in an odd assortment of pots. Most of them are ugly black plastic garden centre tubs rescued from skips, but there is the odd terracotta or ceramic container, and their drip trays are mostly round aluminium pie dishes from the Euro shop.
Just in case you were expecting to see lemons, I shan't disappoint you. Here on the right are a couple of this year's fruit, and on the bottom left, one of the larger maturing ones from last year's flowers. Did you know that a lemon takes two years to reach maturity, and is quite happy to be left on the tree for longer?

Friday, April 18, 2008

Border Incident

The house next door has been having major renovations after being sold a while ago. The English agent who sold it has been acting as project manager for the absentee landlady, and has employed a gang of Moroccan builders to turn the ground floor into a self contained apartment. This has now been rented out to a Dutch couple and their family, and work has started upstairs with the replacement of the windows and doors. There is a large rubber tree obscuring our view of the entrance, but Bossman remarked that he was sure that the body he had glimpsed through the foliage, carrying windows down to the skip, was female. With the remark that he was just going to feed Chancy, he went off to investigate, and came back an hour later to report that she was indeed a female, and of the pretty Rumanian variety that are quite at home wielding hammerdrills...

This morning we heard loud male voices having an altercation in Spanish in next door's driveway. Mehdi the Moroccan was throwing ineffectual punches at the über-übergroß English agent and telling him just what his opinion was of said agent's perfidy in employing someone else to do a job that he, Mehdi, had quoted for. We are not too sure if he objected to having lost the job because his quote was considered too high, or if his pride was hurt because he wasn't considered pretty enough.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Introducing Malcolm

He's a gentle soul. I found him in the Dog shop and bailed him out for 50¢.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

More purple than blue

The clematis has changed from dead twigs to glory in the last few days. As you can see, it grows in a pot, and is on the north side of the house in the shelter of an overhanging balcony, otherwise it would not survive a Spanish Summer. For years, the surface of the pot used to be covered in blue pansies, and the door paint was a perfect colour match, but for some reason, the blackbirds have decided that the pot is a good source of food, and dig around ferociously, flinging lumps of compost in all directions, so the pansies are no more. I hope they are eating the slugs that have been nibbling away at the clematis flowers...

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Glorious blue...

The wisteria is in full bloom. This time last week, only the top most branches that caught the sun were flowering, but now, the whole plant is covered.

This is the view from the balcony.
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Tuesday, March 04, 2008 like a lamb...

I'm referring to the weather of course, not issuing orders to a class of method actors...

Just to clear up a few loose ends of February's de-cluttering exercise, I show you one last photo. I had a radical clear out of the small oak chest of drawers you see here. The top two drawers were full of cassette tapes dating back as far as the '70s. The third drawer is home to telephone directories, gloves and the two Valentine creations that have been brought out each year at the appropriate moment for a great part of our married life. The bottom drawer serves as one of the many glory holes in this house. In particular this one is devoted to crippled and redundant spectacles. I amassed a goodly pile of things to relocate on a nearby table, then continued to make vague flourishes with a duster on the rest of the room and other points East. Later in the day I returned, camera in hand, to record the results of my turf-out. This was all that remained. A few tapes, a broken cassette case, a small cardboard box that had once contained chocolates and a birth announcement, half a dozen assorted feathers, one curtain hook, and a music bleater removed from a birthday card. Bossman had claimed the greater part of the tapes and relocated them to his den downstairs. The collection of spectacles and broken bits and pieces had been deemed necessary to effect repairs and taken to the garage. Shortly after I took this photograph, the Berlitz Spanish Course went ta-tas....I give up...
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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Combined clear-out

I need to clear 30 items today to get me up to date, and the plan was to take 10 per area. I was pretty sure that the trolley in the hallway would provide rich pickings, and I was correct. Add to that just one box from the storage 'closet' and I had more than enough.
Top row: A carrier bag full of Swiss holiday bumf, a couple of letters from 2002, an empty sweet tin, and 15 dressmaking pattern books.
Middle row: 2 cat blankets, a mouse mat and wrist rest, the packaging from a CD player kept in case it didn't survive its 3 year guarantee period, a 1995 road map book of Spain, and a Bodum caffetierre box containing odd candle holders and candle ends.
Bottom row: A stray piece of slightly crumbly foam, 2 sets of wooden splints, a package containing 8 webbing splint straps, 2 rubber turniquets and 4 glassless picture frames.
Quite a good haul, you must agree.

I had intended to clear out Bracket's collection of pointy acorns, conkers and wing nuts if I couldn't meet my target, but as you can see, he is still a happy hoarder.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Nondeclutter Days

Monday and Tuesdays are always reserved for living rather than housework, so I hope to play catch-up tomorrow. In the spirit of the game however, while sipping my afternoon tea, I have re-sorted-out a box of stamps that were zip-locked into countries of origin into zip-locks according to subject matter.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Declutter Day 3

Yes, I know it is the same date, but I haven't got time to declutter and blog, life's too short! This morning it was the turn of the second bathroom. It doesn't get used much for ablutions as such, but the lavatory gets used because it is the closest to the living room, and I use it as a wet room and water source for craft related activities. There is always a reasonable stack of varied reading matter in there, and it is also a convenient place to put the odd bottles of toiletries that come under the heading of not very much wanted gifts.

So what has gone? A smallish stack of El Pais Sunday supplements and a timetable for the steamships on a small Swiss lake, to be recycled. Works for Win 95 Made Simple, a hard back book, a plastic snowman full of bubble bath and a bottle of bath salts to go to the Dog Shop, and a water spray that no longer sprays to go to the rubbish bin. I will admit that I removed the clear plastic tube from the spray before I put it in the bin.

So what have I learnt about myself so far? That things that other people discard on a daily basis are things that I have to make a special effort to get rid of. Maybe it will become easier with practice.

Declutter Day 2

I thought the bedroom would be fairly straightforward; raid the knicker drawer and the job would be done, but I didn't take into account that I had a clear out in the underwear department just before Christmas. I did relinquish my hold on two M&S bras that have never fitted properly; They can go in the clothing bin at the recycle point. Bossman encouraged me to throw away all my laddered tights with the promise of a batch of new ones. The odd ladder doesn't bother me as I am usually in trousers, but I now have a small free corner in the top drawer. I added a pair of his socks that had small holes in the heels to the pile, but shall leave a thorough investigation of his sock drawer for the second round. I couldn't really see anything to part with on my bedside table, but in the spirit of the game, I have reduced the bedside pile of Guardian crossword books by one. Have I done the right thing? Will this be a coveted first edition one day? I opened the wardrobe, couldn't face the thought of sorting through clothes, but I did remove three belts at random from the inside of the door, and added a pair of shoes that I wore last year for painting. A quick tot-up came to more than ten items, but nevertheless, I added a bald nail file and a balding baize pouch that at one time must have held an item of jewellery. I could get used to this....

Friday, February 01, 2008

Declutter Day 1

Our bathroom seemed an easy place to start, seeing that if I had problems finding ten articles to dispose of, I could always resort to checking cosmetic bags. So what have I weeded from the cupboards? For the bin; an almost empty conditioner bottle, an empty travel hair spray, a stray bottle top, and two non-elastic hair elastics. For the recycle bin; an electric curling tong with half of its teeth missing, and a geriatric electric toothbrush. The floral extravaganza at the rear is a hot water bottle cover from a bottle that gave up the ghost in the middle of the night not so long ago. I shall wash it and put it in the box to go to the dog shop at the end of this exercise, together with the nail varnish, unopened but not quite the right colour. The two white soap roses at the front are destined for my friend Marlene. She was flicking through the Avon catalogue the other night and got quite excited when she thought she had found just this very item. After borrowing my specs to read the small print, she was disappointed to find that they were plug-in night lights. As her memory is just as good as mine, but she is far more tactful, I'm sure that the fact that she gave them to me five or six years ago won't be mentioned.

I can hear you now saying, what about that blue toothbrush in the photograph? It was taken off my hands by Bossman, who needed just that very thing to get the rust out of the bottom balcony rail before he welded in a new section. So you see; you never know when something might come in handy.

Calpe has two charity shops. The Red Cross Shop that only takes clothing, books and knick-knacks, and The Dog Shop, as it is known, that takes anything apart from large electrical appliances and furniture.

Thursday, January 31, 2008


A friend is trying to declutter her house, and found inspiration on Swapbot to "Get rid of 100 items in 10 days". It sounds like a good idea, and this house certainly needs a little gentle tidying, so I thought I would give it a try. Throughout the month of February, I shall try to remove 10 items a day, for at least ten days of the month. To make the challenge a little more difficult, I shall only remove each group of ten from one particular room at a time. I have ten rooms on this floor, so if I make it through each of them, I can always start downstairs as well.

The rules of the game say that things removed can be taken to a charity shop, jumble sale, sold in a car boot sale, taken to a recycling point, composted or just plain binned.

My friend Chris posted pictures of her discards on Flickr. I think I'll post here, then I will be more inclined to really throw things away, knowing that eagle-eyed visitors will be checking up on me the next time they visit.

Watch this space....

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

My Fake Baby

I meant to write about this yesterday, but life got in the way. On Monday evening I picked up the TV remote and flashed through the channels. When I reached Ch4, it was in time to see a young woman with a baby carrier on her supermarket trolley asking an older woman if she would like to buy a baby...

I watched the rest of the programme; the young woman makes a living painting vinyl dolls to look like human babies. The programme focused mainly on three women. One, Mary I think she was called, came across as a doll collector, pure and simple. She had a wide range of dolls from many different re-borners, and proudly displayed the different types and sizes to Christine, who was thinking about commissioning a doll. The third woman, her name escaped me, had half a dozen or so "babies", and bought expensive prams and designer outfits for them. She and her husband seemed to treat them as accessories to their lifestyle rather than substitute children. She said that she couldn't cope with a child that made a mess or got dirty, and she could only contemplate having a real child if she could be guaranteed one that behaved. The programme followed her on a trip to Washington USA to collect her latest baby. Having flown all that way, I had expected to at least see her turn up at the home of the artist that produced the doll, but no; She and her mother sat in an hotel bedroom nervously awaiting the delivery. It came in a cardboard box on a luggage trolley pushed by a porter. It was quite a relief when she found a flaw a couple of days later, and the doll got sent back to its maker....just try doing that with a real baby.

The saddest part of the programme had to be the story of Christine. She had brought up her grandson Harry from birth while her daughter battled and won a fight with cancer. Her daughter had now taken Harry to live in New Zealand, and she was struggling to cope with his loss. Having thought about it for some time, she commissions a baby from Jaime, who uses photographs of the baby Harry to produce as near to a replica as she can. Christine takes it home to her husband, who says "I don't like it looks like something on a mortuary slab."

I think I agree with him.

Edit: Richard and Judy talking about the programme.

Friday, January 25, 2008


What is it about cashew nuts that I find so irresistible? Once I open the packet, I just have to keep on eating until they are all gone, or somebody takes them away from me. EG tried, of course, but had to settle for licking out the bag. I wonder why I am so thirsty? It must be the heat...

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Spring is in the air

The nights are still cold, but there is more heat in the sun during the day. Wandering around the garden when I went to pick oranges this afternoon, I was surprised just how much colour was around. I went back inside to get my camera, and these are a few of the better shots. I am finding it very difficult to hold the camera steady. I'll have to start using the tripod and the timer button I think.

We had another trip to the hospital on Monday, this time to see Dr Pacios, the Haematologist. He reviewed all Bossman's blood tests for the last three years, and he is fairly certain that the high level of platelets is entirely due to the loss of his spleen. He said that the spleen filtered out the old platelets and that kept the levels down. Unless levels start reaching the 600's, he doesn't propose any further treatment as long as his blood pressure is controlled, and there are no other indications that he is at risk of thrombosis. That is good news, and should make the Gastrologo happy as well, as he was inclined to think that the Adiro prescribed by the GP triggered, or was contributing to, Bossman's stomach problems. Dr Pacios did say that he should be vaccinated on a regular basis, and that if our GP was unable to arrange it, he would arrange it through the hospital. Until I had read the page I have linked to, I had no idea just how vulnerable the lack of a spleen could leave a body! Maybe Bossman is the exception that proves the rule?

Friday, January 18, 2008

It was the prawns...

...we think. Bossman and I spent the morning at the hospital, waiting around for an endoscopy, then waiting even longer to make a follow up appointment. The good news is that the guapo who performed the procedure said that he had found nothing untoward, just a little gastritis, so that is a big relief. By now it was 11.30 am, and Bossman took himself off to the cafe to break his fast, while I took a number and waited my turn to make an appointment. Twenty minutes later, a second window opened and things began to move a little faster. When my number finally came up, I took the opportunity to make an appointment in the eye clinic as well, even though the earliest available was for October. We shall be back at the hospital again on Monday, this time to see the Haematologist. The only outstanding appointment then is the kidney echo graph, and when that comes through, we can get on with life for another few months.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Postscript to Paperwork

I didn't find the photos I had taken for my driving licence, so I used a couple left over from my passport application two years ago. This morning I found the photos; in my purse between my Consum Supermarket Loyalty card and my DRZ Petrol Loyalty card. What does this say about me? That I am a completely dis-loyal person? That I don't use a lot of petrol and find Consum Supermarkets over-priced? Or that I need new spectacles?

Thursday, January 03, 2008


On the 17th January, my old driving licence runs out. My renewal form arrived on Christmas Eve, so on Boxing Day, (a non-event in Spain) I took advantage of the fact that I had taken a little more care over my Christmas hair-do than is usual for me, and took myself off to the photographers. If you are wondering why I didn't use the photo machine, there is a simple explanation. The machine leaves an artistic scratch across the chin area of all four photos, and the photographer uses a digital camera and happily snaps away until he has something that both you and he are happy with, then prints up four carnets for only 4€ rather than the 3.50€ charged by the machine. The trick is to put these photos somewhere that you can find them on the day that you decide to do the paperwork...

A puppy may be for life, but a Spanish driving licence is only for five years once you pass the threshold of 50. It is not just a simple process of sending in the old one and getting a new one with an up-to-date photo on it; Medical Certificates are required. This morning was cold and wet, so instead of bowling, I headed into town with the intention of completing five tasks; calling in at the bank to collect my new card and fill my purse, having my medical, calling in at the Gestor to see if the car transfer papers had arrived, visiting the Casa de Cultura to see an exhibitions of old photographs of Calpe taken in the early part of the last century and then crossing the road to the Pensioners' Palace and checking in the office just what I needed to get my free Bus Pass.

My first port of call was the Post Office, just in case the bank card had been sent to my box there. I then walked up the Gabriel Miro. With justification, this is known locally as Cardiac Hill. For once there wasn't a queue in the bank, so with a new card and some cash, I continued the climb to the top of the hill. The Clinic is only on the second floor, so I ignored the lift and walked up. The first part of the check is to have one's blood pressure taken. I managed a reasonable 140 over 80. The second part of the test is the hardest part. An infernal machine with a screen and two handles sticking out of a box below it. On the screen are two separate "roads" that wander on differing paths up the screen. On each track is an oval blob just slightly narrower than the track. These blobs are controlled by the handles. The task is to keep the blobs on the roads, and seems to entail trying to persuade the two halves of one's body to work independently. Left hand responding to left eye as it follows left blob's progress, and vice versa. There is a loud bleep each and every time a blob leaves the track. It's just as well the blood pressure test doesn't come after this bit! The next stage is a fairly straightforward eye test; cover each eye in turn and read the letters off the light-box. If I made mistakes on guessing the bottom line, she didn't tell me, but led me off to the desk to complete the paperwork.....stamping the certificate and relieving me of 50€. When she asked for the photos to stick on the form, I had to admit that I had mislaid them for the time being. She gave me a pitying look. Maybe memory testing will become part of the check in the future...

The Gestor is on the other downward slope of Cardiac Hill. The girl on the front desk rummaged in a cupboard and produced my car papers without interrupting her telephone conversation; task number two completed.

My next stop was the Pensioners' Palace to read the paper, drink a coffee, and chat with friends. Afterwards I went down to the office to ask about the Bus Pass. It seems I need one photo, a certificate to prove I am a resident of Calpe, a photocopy of my Residents card, and a letter from the bank to say that I am in receipt of a Social Security Pension. I can't get this until the DSS actually gets round to sending some money in my direction, so that can wait for another day. The sweetheart then told me that I was also entitled to get a rebate on the rubbish collection tax that is paid in March. This was 150€ last year and will probably be more this year. She said that I had to pay this year's, then bring in the bill for a refund and in future years I shall only have to pay 3€ admin. charge. Life as a Pensioner is looking up!

I made it across the road to the photo exhibition. These were blown up plates from the archives of a local photographer. The earliest was dated 1910 and the later ones were from the 50's. Long vistas of deserted beaches with the occasional fishing boat. Behind the beaches were sand dunes and vineyards, then fields with olive and almond trees, and the odd carob. There was not a single building on the hillside where we now live, just cultivated terraces all the way to Pedramala. School photos; girls separate from boys, the first car in Calpe, the construction of the harbour, the grand opening of the first hotel, a donkey walking round in circles to power the pump that lifted evaporating sea water from one level of the salt pans to the next. The rail system that carried the salt from the pans to the roadside was the same as those used to move coal from the mines in England. The buckets tipped up sideways to deposit their load. I remember how pink the salt appeared in its glistening piles. Production stopped a few years after we came here. The huge mechanised plant in Santa Pola took over producing the road salt used by the rest of Europe. The buildings and machinery slowly disintegrated, and eventually the Salinas were taken over by the Valencian Government and became part of a National Park; a stop-over point for migrating Flamingoes and assorted water birds. I walked around a second time, then made my way home, with the feeling that I had actually accomplished something for a change.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Climate change and the Death's Head Hawk Moth

Bossman brought me a present this morning. He was raking leaves beneath the Mastic tree and found this poor beastie. According to my book, they are usually Summer visitors from Africa that sometimes overwinter here in the pupal stage. According to this site, they are common throughout Europe, so take your pick. I am guessing that this specimen had been fooled by the temperature being in the high 20's for a couple of days, followed by a sharp drop to only 5ºC. It had struggled out of its underground cocoon, but had not been able to plump up it's wings.
This is the first time I have seen one close up. They are usually night flyers, large enough to be mistaken for a bat. They have every opportunity to breed in the garden, as we are well stocked with Bignonia and Lantana as well as numerous cultivated and wild plants of the potato family. My only worry is that Ivan the Bulgarian intends to lay black membrane under the gravel he and Bossman have planned for the area between the almond and the barbecue. The mesh fencing there is covered in Bignonia and Blue Potato Vine. If any more moths are pupating underground, they may never see the light of day. Not to mention the Spiranthes spiralis and the Anacamsis Coriophora that come up every year....Bugger these men and their need for tidy gardens!