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After two long years in England, when Spain was an itch that had to be scratched, a golden opportunity came along, which couldn't be ignored. So here I am back in Spain ~ again, just me and my dog on the sunny Costa Blanca, ready for another adventure!

15 October 2015

After 8 days without WIFI, my mood was not improved by the grandly titled ‘PRESIDENT’ of the urbanisation constantly telling me it was a ‘user problem’, and if he told me to ‘power down and back up’  once, he told me 10 times, feigning surprise each time I told him that this would not bring my internet back to life.   

I may be blonde, but trust me, I’m definitely not stupid.  I know that to have internet access on my computer, I have to have a Wifi service to my router.

But the lights were not on, and no Wifi was at home.

Eventually just as all hope was lost, a man appeared at my gate.  ‘Are you?’ I asked, ‘I am’ he replied.  If we had known each other better I would have kissed him right there, right then, but it seemed entirely inappropriate, we were strangers after all, and I didn’t want to risk him running away.

And of course, it wasn’t a ‘user’ problem. Water had crept into my Wifi cable, and whilst there was a strong signal in the utility box at the gate, it had drowned before it reached the router.

After the trauma of having no Wifi for such a long time, I wanted to minimise the danger of it happening again.  Clearly, rain was getting into the box somehow, so we took a look at the positioning of the cable to see if anything needed to be gently re-sited for damage limitation purposes.

So as the lovely engineer was working his magic in the utility supply box, I took a look as well, and even with minimal knowledge of such things, it all looked a bit too shabby and very insecure to my untrained eye.

Firstly, Mr Engineer was able to open the box simply by using his personal key ring to lever it open. No need for any specialized tools.  So if he can do it, then anyone can.

Once inside the box, the incoming phone cable is completely obvious, and a small connector takes the service from the box, through to your telephone and WiFI router indoors.  Even a small child could remove this connector in seconds. 

A small child however, would probably only be interested in connecting it to his Fisher Price pull along phone, which wouldn’t cause you too much of a problem.  


On the other hand,  as unlikely it seems, Mr Engineer pointed out to me how easy it would be for an opportunist simply to open ANY utilities box, and connect a phone to YOUR service and call their ‘brother’ in any war torn country.  Phone and WiFi adaptor bottom left hand corner

Likewise, just as Mr Engineer did (when was testing my own service), anyone could connect a lap top to YOUR Wifi service, to rally some troops anywhere in the world.  And it did indeed seem far too easy, and the whole utility box, right outside my gate, outside everybody’s gate, suddenly looked very vulnerable.  

I certainly wouldn’t think twice if I saw a man, with a ‘tool box’, accessing a utility box, I’d simply assume he was another Mr Engineer. 

And so would you.

Since then, whilst walking my dog around the urbanisation where I live, I’d say that only 25% of the boxes I’ve passed have any additional security on them, like a padlock, or a bolt.

And after seeing, and hearing first hand inside information of just how vulnerable the utility box is, maybe it is worthwhile adding just a bit of extra security as a deterrent.  

Better safe than sorry.     

Of course, I realize the likelihood of ‘Abdul’ from Pakistan rocking up on the Costa’s to make a few phone calls home, or to access his Facebook page at your front gate is a bit remote.

BUT, then, did we ever imagine there would be a man on a beach in Tunisia with a loaded gun. 


Apart from anything else,  all be a bit too late when your phone bill comes in and ‘someone’ has racked up hundreds of euros worth of calls to some far off land from your phone line in Spain while you were obliviously eating your tea in Tooting.  


Please come and read more about my adventures now that I'm back in Spain ~ again!

Like 1        Published at 16:40   Comments (8)

30 December 2014

Let’s face it folks, the build up to Christmas is one almighty hype isn’t it?  From early October, kids telly programmes are interrupted with back to back adverts for toys costing more than the average weekly food bill, and how many TV chefs does it take to tell us how to cook a Turkey.

Tell you what Jamie, how about shoving that stuffing up your own backside……

This year in an attempt to be a slightly more conventional 60 something woman, I celebrated Christmas Day with my daughter and Grandkids in a nice cosy house, sitting around her large dining table, suitable adorned with fairy lights and sprinkles, battling my way through mountains of food and drink.

BUT, not so long ago, I laughed in the face of convention and spent Christmas Day in a very different way.

Here at Eye on Spain, on many occasions we’ve discussed the importance of planning your move to Spain. We’ve offered suggestions on appropriate areas of Spain to consider, depending on your family and financial circumstances, and there have sometimes been some heated responses to questions about the cost of living, and employment prospects.

All of which, in reality, we all know will be mostly ignored.

If you want to move to Spain, you will, no matter what negative advice people give you.

Well, here is where fate took me, and how I celebrated one of my happiest Christmas Day’s in Spain.

Previously, dear reader, I’d been a ‘lady what lunched’…….if it was a sandwich, it wasn’t any old sandwich, it was a M & S Sandwich, I actually WAS a stranger to Maccy D’s, and the sun very often went over my yardarm when normal people were still eating their Shreddies. No, I was definitely not a stranger to a Champagne breakfast!  

But then Cupids Arrow scored a Bulls Eye and I found myself living in this little love nest, (!) on the banks of the River Ebro with a man who would have given Crocodile Dundee a run for his money. To say we were a bit short of room would have been an understatement, and given that we only had ONE calor gas ring, more suited to one-pot cooking, than a roast turkey and all the trimmings, on Christmas Day, we had to improvise. 

We decided, (I decided) that if we couldn’t bring Christmas to the caravan, then we’d take it to the river bank instead.

 We chose a sheltered spot, and I made our tent look festive with some well - placed tinsel and sprigs of holly.

We sparked up the Barbeque, (I lie, it was actually a fire made of twigs and the rack from an old cooker) and made a cup of Fisherman’s tea, (there were surprisingly no builders about).

He baited up the swim, I buttered warm baguettes fresh from the local bakery, and waited for Christmas Day lunch to arrive.

Now, before anyone gets all sniffy, the Carp in these pictures were all kept quite cosy in a keep net in the water, and swam happily away once the pictures were taken.

On the other hand, the Zander we caught and ate for our Christmas Day lunch, were bloody delicious!   And, if you haven’t ever tasted Zander, then you are missing a treat. Widely available in fishy type shops. It’s like Haddock, only Heavenly.

Gently fried in a little olive oil, the thick white flesh just falls off the bone, unlike say….. a Bernard Matthews turkey!

It was a gorgeous crisp, Mr Blue Sky day, people popped up and shared an enamel mug of wine with us, and our loaves and fishes fed many friends, and also some people we’d never met before!

It really was a day to remember, and I don’t think anyone who was there will forget the sight of a tinsel bedecked bivvie, and me rockin the Santa hat.


So next year, if you fancy an ‘alternative’ Christmas, just get out there and do it.

The possibilities are endless, life’s too short to be wrapping anymore pigs in blankets, so be rebellious, do whatever you fancy, but be sure to come back and tell us all about it.


Thanks for reading this little missive, you can see more of my ramblings at

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30 October 2014


Over the past month or so  there has been some debate about how running a dog rescue in Spain can become overwhelming, and something that was started with the best of intentions, can end up hitting the headlines, sometimes not in a positive way.

I know that Eye on Spain has several contributors who try to rehome stray and abandon dogs, but I don't think the average expat is actually aware of the scale of the problem in Spain, and I'm sure that there must be many dog lovers, who might not want the tie of a dog of their own, but who would enjoy a spot of volunteering, to make a difference to some unfortunate animals.  

I did that very thing, and here is MY personal experience of working in a dog rescue in Costa Dorada, and will perhaps go some way to reinforcing the often easily dismissed fact that stray and abandoned dogs are a HUGE problem in Spain. 

During another long hot Spanish summer,  I was idly flicking through the local Olive Press magazine, when I came across a cry for help from a local dog rescue. As a dog lover, and knowing that whilst staying in Catalonia I had time on my hands, I was soon on my way to meet Anna, who was going to show me the ropes at the shelter where she volunteers.

Naively, I was expecting to find maybe 50 dogs, and anticipated that I’d be topping up food bowls, patting a few furry heads and maybe throwing the odd ball or two. I imagined I'd be there for an hour or so, and was looking forward to it.

However, NOTHING could have prepared me for either the size of the shelter, or the amount of dogs and cats that were living there.

On entering the very secure compound, probably 80 or so small dogs, of varying ages, shapes and sizes, ran towards me, all determined to be greeted appropriately. They were, without exception, in good health and high spirits, which reflects the level of care each one received, it was overwhelming, and uplifting both at the same time.

All I could see at this point was a mish mash of small kennels, barrels, boxes and all sorts of containers that a small dog could rest in lined up on the perimeter fence. Dogs peered out from underneath large washing up bowls, old carpets, and plastic storeage boxes.

Even the odd rabbit hutch was 'home' to a dog. 

In a smaller area stood several abandoned caravans. Cats perched on the roofs, or peered out nervously from windowless frames. Kittens played in the dirt underneath. When I ventured inside, there were more cats sleeping in the tiny sinks and in cardboard boxes on the threadbare seating. But even in this chaos, there were hand knitted blankets, cushions and old duvet's dotted around as if to give just a bit of home comfort to these unfortunate moggies.

Onwards we went, through securely locked gates, to purpose built blocks of 10 kennels, where larger dogs were housed 5 to each individual large pen. Again, no dog held back, as we called out a greeting, or stopped now and then to stroke and make a fuss of as many as we could.

Altogether at this shelter, there were over 300 dogs and 60 cats, which had been abandoned, or picked up as strays, the scale of the problem in Spain cannot be imagined.

During the course of the next 4 hours, I helped to clean out kennels, and feed and water around 200 dogs, whilst another volunteer, dealt with the other small dogs and puppies in the larger compound. We worked like trojans, this was literally, no walk in the park.

Because of the sheer number of dogs, there is no alternative but to keep them enclosed for much of the time. Two comfort breaks a day were usually all that could be easily managed, so it goes without saying that each kennel was fairly 'high' on excess energy and excess poo. 

We methodically and thoroughly cleaned them all. First scraping and shovelling, followed by throwing liberal amounts of disinfectant around and finally hosing and rinsing.

The heat of the sun dried the floors almost instantly. 

Water and food was replenished and dogs ushered out and back into each pen with meticulous precision. 5 dogs out, 5 dogs counted back in again, which is not as easy as it sounds when there is always 1 out of 5 who simply does not want to return willingly!

Piles of poo were shovelled, minor grumbles between bored dogs were diffused. But overall, there was a sense of calm and achievement as each clean kennel was once more, locked and secured.

But of course that HAS to happen on a daily basis. My little stint, was a drop in the dog rescue ocean of life. They needed people every single day, twice a day would have been better.

The cleaning and feeding was just the tip of the iceberg. Long haired dogs needed grooming. All dogs needed checking for minor ailments, nails needed trimming, ears needed cleaning.

Above all, the dogs needed human contact, and to be socialised to stand any chance of being rehomed.  

There simply was no time for niceties. It was all a question of priority.

Like so many other dog rescue's, this one was started by one lady, taking in a couple of abandoned dogs. It grew, and grew. As an animal lover, she couldn't turn a deserving dog away.

Luckily for her, and unlike many well meaning rescuers, she did have plenty of support, and eventually the local council offered her an old landfil site on which to create this HUGE shelter.  But it still has to be maintained, the rescued animals still have to be fed. The money for this has to come from somewhere. Donations are a crucial factor for any dog rescue, big or small.

This particular rescue, with 360 or so animals to care for is just one of hundreds across Spain, they all need your help and support. 

We've discussed before on our blogs and forums about what you can do when the novelty of your move to Spain has worn off.  Here's the answer!

Please do seek out your local dog rescue, offer your help even for a few hours a week. Trust me, it is SO rewarding.

You cannot save every dog you come across, that's for sure, but you can help to make their lives more comfortable.


Find me also at


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09 October 2014


The beginning of that decision to move to  Spain usually goes something like this doesn't it?!

While the kids are growing up, you spend many happy package holidays in Spain, then the kids fly the nest, and you and your significant other go a little bit more upmarket, maybe it’s now Seville, when it used to be Salou! 

Over a few too many jugs of Sangria, one of you gets a bit misty eyed and plants the seed about ‘how it would be lovely to move to Spain permanently’. 

Mr or Mrs has a few reservations, but is cajoled and convinced that of COURSE the kids will come out and see you, and it’s only 2 hours from home, and if after a few years you really don’t like it, of course you can go back to the UK and buy a little cottage by the sea there instead.

Just to be doubly sure you are making the right decisions, on rainy afternoons you watch re runs of ‘A Place in the Sun’. It always looks so nice and sunny in Spain, and the properties on the telly look like bargains.

You do a bit of online research too, perhaps you join a few expat sites like Eye on Spain, and This is Spain to name but two,and you ask a few questions, but selectively ignore any advice that YOU see as negative.

You go to a few property shows, and there you might find super salesman Santos from Salou who is flogging THE most amazing 2 bed casa, at a knockdown price, as it’s a repossession. He's got some connections at the bank, and before you know it you’ve sealed the deal and pretty soon you are on your way to Expatshire.

Circumstances mean that you arrive in Spain with all your wordly goods packed in the back of your estate car, on a dull day in November. But HEY, tomorrow will be sunny, everyone knows  it’s hot ALL year round in Spain and it won’t be long before you see the kids for a good old family Christmas, just like you’ve always had in the UK.

Santos from Salou has reassured you that there are big supermarkets for all your everyday needs virtually on your doorstep, and what with Spain being so popular with expats, it’ll stock all your favourite stuff, and everywhere opens on Sundays nowadays doesn’t it.

It's Europe after all. Cosmopolitan and all that!

You didn’t bother to bring perishables as you didn’t have much room in the car, and thought the shops would be open.

But you've arrived on November 1st. All Saints day, when your chosen village is celebrating many a long since dead Saint, and nothing will stop them shutting up shops and bars and turning a vibrant village into a ghost town from Friday through Monday in holy reverence. 

It’s just the local bakery that will be open for a couple of hours in the morning, as here, man clearly can survive on bread alone. But it’s now 4pm in the afternoon.

Trust me, you have no chance.   

Your new casa is actually freezing cold, those tiled floors are great in the summer, but not so feet friendly in November, and you begin to think that actually it was warmer in the UK when you left 2 days ago. 

You haven't realised that in Spain, once late October arrives, it actually does get cold. A damp fog can come down, permeate through to your bones and not lift for weeks. 

It doesn’t bode well, and is not the best of starts.  But once you’ve got the domestic front sorted, everything will be fine.  Except you haven't thought about what exactly are you going to do with the rest of your expat life in Spain.

For the first few months, you get to know your area, and decide which is going to be your preferred supermarket. You’ll favour one for your everyday bits and bobs, and another one for your ‘big shop’, and more importantly, you select your favourite ‘local’.

You’ll probably visit it every lunchtime for a baguette con jamon, and you’ll also probably visit it every night too, because oh my days, his steaks are SO good.  

All this will probably be accompanied by several rounds of Grande Cerveza for Mr and more than is sensible G & T's for the Mrs, even though she has to go steady because the measures are so big.

You are sure you didn’t used to pay that much for a round of drinks when you were on one of your package holidays a few years back, but, what the heck, you deserve to spoil yourselves at the start of your new life in Spain.

Now of course this routine would be all well and good if it was ‘just’ for your two week annual holiday, but you’ve got into a routine and lost sight of the fact that this is now your life 

You are not on holiday anymore!

But, as Steve Hall observed in his ‘Rules for Expat Life’, at some point, you have to drag yourself out of the bar and go and look for some work to replenish your already dwindling finances.

Santos from Salou reassuringly said that as a fully qualified jobbing builder, there would be loads of work you could pick up. He probably didn’t mention the fact that just as in the UK, the Eastern Europeans have also discovered Spain too, and have cornered the market with good cheap labour. 

But HEY, something will turn up, you’ve got the rest of your life to start working again. You’ve only just got here.  


When you are seeking advice on the expat forums, I’m sure like me, some of you wince at the often brutally honest responses given to the most innocent of questions that go something like, ‘I’m thinking of moving to Spain, any advice please’. 

The replies are often very negative, and can dampen enthusiasm at a thousand paces, BUT the people responding are realists, and unlike Santos from Salou are simply telling it like it really is. They've been there, done that and sweated buckets in that particular T shirt.

In my view, one of the best bits of advice would simply be, remember, when you move to Spain, you are not on holiday, this is now YOUR life. You need a plan.

There is no holiday rep to act as a go between, there is nobody to complain to when things go wrong, you  wouldn’t go to the bar every lunchtime and every evening in the UK, what makes you think that you should do it now you've moved to Spain. 

There is no financial benefits prop down at the Town Hall, because you are a bit down on your luck, you have to prepare carefully for all eventualities. Most financial ones.

As all good salesmen will tell you, to fail to prepare is to prepare to fail.

But not if you are Santos from Salou!


Have you met other expats who really have failed to prepare themselves for their new life in Spain.


You can read more from me at:


Like 1        Published at 19:18   Comments (0)

02 October 2014

Yesterday my ‘to do list went something like this.

Write blog post for Eye on Spain

Yes, agreed it was a short to do list, and given that I had nothing else to do on my ‘to do’ list, you might have thought that I’d soon be basking in the soft glow of blogging achievement.

Now I’m a reasonably good, morning person, I’m up and at ‘em with a cheery smile, and just as everyone has their own personal ‘fix’ to kick start their day, mine is a bone china cup of Yorkshire Tea which I prepare with love and proceed to my office to check my emails before starting my post for Eye on Spain.

In my mind I know what images I need to crop, and an idea or two of what I’m going to write about, but I just check what is ‘trending’ on the internet today  

Such a bloody pretencious word ‘trending’, why can’t topics just be popular.

There is a link to a NEW Social Media guru, I just take a quick look, its’ still only 8 am. I want to get the blog post uploaded by this afternoon, but I’ve got loads of time. 

After following the new SM guru’s link to Twitter, FaceBook and all points on the Social Media compass of life, I decide I may as well check my own FaceBook pages as well.

I ‘like’ some lovely pictures of a FaceBook friend’s wedding. I have never actually met this ‘friend’, but the pictures are indeed lovely, and apparently for maximum exposure to one’s ‘brand’, one needs to keep virtual conversations going.   

An offer for a fab freebie catches my eye, I sign up for that, then quickly catch up on what my fellow Writers on Spain are thinking about, and chuckle at some of Sandra Piddock's saucy links, and whoops a daisy look its 9.00a.m. already and not a drop of water has touched my skin and you could fry chips in my hair.

Cursing myself I head for the shower, this will just take 5 minutes it’ll be a splash and dash day, no time for primping and preening, I must get on. I want to get that blog post posted.

The late summer sun shines into the bathroom and I think to myself we could be in for a nice warm day. I need to pop out later for some dinner, and mentally create a small shopping list that I can get at the local shops.

But glancing down I see toenails that are looking a bit chipped and the polish needs a touch up, and heavens above, there’s a forest sprung up on my legs overnight.  I simply CANNOT pop out for shopping looking so cruddy.

I mean you just never knows who you might bump into. If George Clooney just happened to pop into the One Stop for a pork pie en route to a filming in Essex, I want to be looking vaguely acceptable, though to be fair, that particular ship has probably sailed without me. The FOOL, if only he had asked ME!

Cue, nail varnish remover, polish, Veet and Moisturiser   

After primping and preening I dress in my comfie ‘at home’ look and at 10am head back to the kitchen to make a second cup of tea to take back to my office to get cracking on my blog post. My office is really my sofa, but it sounds impressive.

Whilst waiting for the kettle, I soak last night’s washing up in a nice bowl of Fairy, but then I think it will just take a minute to wash it up anyway, and I’ll just sweep the kitchen floor, then my mind will be completely free to work.  

Us creative folk like a nice clear head to focus on our writing.

With the washing up done, the floor swept, I remember I could really do with popping in a load of washing. It’s a nice day, it’ll dry really quickly.

I dash around, gathering up my ‘wash dark colours together’ load, which as you’ll all agree entails checking pockets for tissues and stray fivers, and while I’m there I just quickly make the bed and get the hot wash load sorted too as it’ll save me time later when I’ll be engrossed in my blog.  

Before I know it, the 11 o’clock news is on the radio and now the dog is looking at me with pleading eyes.

As I have the domestics under control, I decide to quickly take the dog out so he is happy and I can sit at my desk ( my knees ) and get started on my ‘to do list’ knowing he is comfortable and will sleep at my feet while I tap away at my keyboard.

We head out of the gate for our usual walk round the field. There is a dog friendly mix of rabbit scented ditches and trees for leaving a calling card plus the opportunity to meet n greet some fit looking lady dogs. We are on track to complete our circuit in the allotted 30 minutes, but our friendly neighbour has put some lovely flowers and pots of homemade jam out for sale near his garden gate.

I have no money in my pocket so I park the dog back in the garden and race back to my neighbour’s house with a fiver I retrieved from the ‘wash dark colours together’ load. 

The honesty box has clearly not hit the spot today and so I follow my helpful neighbour indoors to find me some change.

Then after an unsolicited step by step instruction on jam making and the art of growing gladioli, I run back home aware that, as older people say ‘half the day is gone already’

But, I will definitely be able to focus now that my domestic tasks are out of the way, the dog has been walked, my nails are buffed, and you could bottle my legs in an Innocent Smoothie.

I file the morning’s lack of achievement and move on. After all the afternoon is stretching ahead and my head is full of idea’s for my latest blog post.

By the time I found a vase for my blooming lovely flowers, and topped up the dog’s water bowl its 12.15 - Lunchtime. If I make something to eat now, it’ll save me stopping when my foot is down on the blogging throttle.

I decide on a sandwich but as I open the fridge door the dustbin collection dates catch my eye. I must remember the bin men come tomorrow, and while I’m here I’d better just relieve the fridge of anything that is growing live cultures or that has actually expired.

After all it’s usually one or the other, in the average ‘would be’ writers’ fridge, there is rarely anything that is actually edible. We are far too busy to go shopping; we are busy being creative. 

There’s the mandatory one rasher of bacon left in the packet, which has yet to acquire that subtle bronze tinge that tells you that it has indeed ‘gone off’.  Shame to throw that away.


Likewise the lone tomato that lurks in the salad drawer underneath a severely wilted Iceberg Lettuce, which must be old, they usually last forever.  Well, I may as well have a bacon and tomato sandwich, and that will set me up for the afternoon while I get down and dirty with my writing. 

The quick snack, turns into a frying pan event, which then leads to more washing up and I decide I may as well actually put the bin bags out, so I can really settle down at my laptop knowing my domestic tasks are now absolutely complete.

Armed with a fresh cup of Yorkshires finest I return to my office/sofa at 1pm to start my days work and wouldn’t you know it, the phone rings. It’s one of my oldest friends who is having, in her own words, a crisis.

After saying yes and no in all her right places, the crisis is downgraded to a bit of a falling out with her man. Her ‘issues’ have been explored in depth, and she goes off considerably calmer.

I on the other hand am now considerably further behind with my blog. My tea has gone cold, and my brain has been drained by my involuntary counselling service, I need a quick caffeine fix so I return to the kitchen to make another cuppa.

1.45. At last I settle down to select those images I first pulled up onto the screen at 8.00 this morning. Thank goodness I’m still on track to get that blog post posted at the optimum time.

The phone rings again, it’ my daughter in a panic this time. She has broken down at a shopping centre and my youngest Grandson is at nursery and needs collecting at 2.15pm.

How can I refuse? 

Admittedly, I do have to change out of the ‘at home’ baggy leggings, tea stained top and mismatched ski socks, into capable Grandparent attire, but I also need to get there quickly to avoid a teary eyed 3 year old thinking he’d been forgotten.

Rather coincidentally I thought, my broken down daughter and I both turn into her road at the same time, clearly she got fixed up sooner than she thought (or was it extra shopping time she was after) but before I can say my Goodbyes I have to stop and admire some finger painting, a necklace made out of spaghetti, a new pair of expensive looking shoes, smell a new perfume and admire a new shade of lipstick.

Clearly everyone has had a far more productive time than me this morning.

With all that accomplished I’m in everyone’s good books, and even though it’s now 3.00pm I’m on my way home to get my Eye on Spain blog post written and hit the ‘send’ button.

Oh hang on, I need something for dinner, and even though it was going to be a One Stop shop, I’m just going to drive right past Sainsbury’s. It will save on time and petrol if I simply pop in there on the way back and then I won’t have to go out again later when there will be lots of traffic around.

I fall back into my kitchen at nearly 5.00pm with bags full of shopping, plus a neat little GOK top that I had to buy in the 25% off sale. It would have been silly not to.

I have chew sticks for the dog, ice cream and a new mascara, lots of fruit and veg, milk, cereals and yoghurt, flour, sugar and tea bags, but curiously nothing specific for dinner. I rush around putting it all away. My cupboards bulge with basics.

5.30 pm Where has the day gone? I’ll just make another cuppa and get my blog post written. I want to be sure it’s posted at the best time of day, to catch as many ‘views’ as possible, and to be in with a chance of making the top 10 readers digest.

The dog looks at me again with those pleading eyes that say ‘it’s been over 6 hours since my last walk, how can you neglect me this way’. 

So I just walk the dog quickly round the block again, then he’ll settle and be comfortable.

Dog is happy, so I am happy.

I look at the clock again in disbelief. Yes it really is 6.00 pm.

The dog needs his dinner, I need my dinner.

My get up and go, has got up and gone.

My blogging motivation has buggered off

There’s only question that needs answering right now 


The first sip of Rioja hits the spot but after the day I’ve had, my brain is frazzled, and Emmerdale is on soon.


I’ll make a really early start tomorrow and write my blog post for Eye on Spain.

and here it is!






Like 0        Published at 14:18   Comments (5)

28 August 2014

As a mature woman of the world I'm rarely surprised by the antics of men when they go off on their jollies, and although I am the keeper of many secrets, I'm also a firm believer in what goes on tour stays on tour.

But dear reader, as only YOU will read this little story, I feel confident that just this once, it's OK to share. But please don't tell a soul will you. It would be callous to wreck what is clearly a relationship built on honesty and trust.

This is the true story of a man called ......well let's call him DICK.  This is not his real name, but let's call him Dick anyway.

Leaving his wife at home, Dick flew to Spain on his own to enjoy a spot of fishing, and to visit as many bars as he could, to consume what turned out to be many, many glasses of Rioja.

As hostess with the leastest, I ended up spending several evenings with Dick, he was a generous man and he also treated my partner and I to many, many glasses of Rioja too!  It would have been churlish to refuse.

I heard his life story almost every night usually over his favorite T bone steak and oh yes, the Rioja.  It was usually around the 4th glass that he got maudlin, with long drawn out examples of what a wonderful woman his wife was, and how she was the love of his life.

Dick was a man of around 48 years old and when sober, he was quite charismatic, with some good looks lurking in his lived in face.  He had an engaging wit, and coupled with his throaty Liverpool accent, he was entertaining and fun, at least he was during glasses 1, 2 and 3 of Rioja.

Every night during our meal, Dick would usually ring his wife and describe what he was eating, and tell her what he had been doing that day. Sitting next to him, it was impossible not to overhear these conversations, all littered with I love you's, I miss you's and I can't wait to see you's. When in full flow, Dick was the Master of Cheese but it was encouraging to hear that romance was alive and well and lapping at the banks of the Mersey.

On the night before his departure, Dick pulled out all the stops on his nightly call to his woman. We all heard how he couldn't live without her, that she was all he ever wanted and he couldn't wait to hold her in his arms. It would be fair to say, our ice bucket nearly became dual purpose, and it was hard for me to stifle my giggles.  But he also reassured her that he was soon heading back to his Hotel to get ready for his early start home the next day.

With explicit instructions that we would collect Dick outside his Hotel at 6.00 a.m. the next morning for the journey back to the airport, we said our Goodnights, and left him in the bar.  BIG MISTAKE!

At the allotted hour we waited outside Dick's Hotel, and we waited, and waited, but there was no sign of Dick. Time was marching on and we needed to get going.

We had no way of getting into the Hotel as the front door was firmly locked to anyone who did not have a room, but joy of joys, twenty minutes later Antonio the bread man rocked up in his three wheeled Tuk Tuk, pressed the secret squirrel button, and bingo, the door was unlocked.

What followed would not have been out of place in a Whitehall Farce, and if you HAD been in the audience, you wouldn't have been disappointed either.

We had no idea what room Dick was in, and we felt that it was not a sociably acceptable hour to be banging on random doors in the vain hope that Dick would be found behind one of them.

So my partner and Antonio, having offloaded his baguettes, decided that as the lesser of the two not very practical evils, a man would be roused from his sleep far more effectively by a continual loud two finger whistle and the fairly consistent shouting of DICK, WHERE ARE YOU, whilst walking up and down every corridor of the 4 story Hotel.

To be honest, I wasn't entirely convinced that this approach would find the missing Dick, but without any better idea's, as a sensible woman, I decided to keep quiet. I already had one Mr Grumpy on my hands and Antonio was also desperate to get back to his buns.

Floors 1 and 2 remained steadfastly asleep, but halfway round floor 3, a breakthrough of sorts occured.  I spotted a wide open door and went to investigate.  Believe me, the sight which met my eyes was worthy of any Post Traumatic Shock I may thereafter have suffered.

There, flat on his back, in all his glory, with his crown jewels on display, laid Dick, out for the count. The clothes he had been wearing in the bar, were nowhere to be seen, and it was left to us to rifle through his suprisingly neatly packed luggage to get him half decent, and back to the airport for his flight home, and romantic reunion.   No easy task after recalling the 4 empty wine bottles on the table the night before. But it became clear that his wine consumption didn't end when I thought.

We had waved Bye Bye to Dick at around midnight, and had finally located him at about 6.30 a.m. that morning. Given his extra night time activities, he was plainly still drunk as a skunk, and had not had enough time to sleep it off.

It turned out that Dick had got over his bout of lovesickness very soon after he'd ended his call to his 'darling' wife, and the waiter had seen fit to serve Dick yet another bottle of wine, and then invited him to a 'special' bar that he knew of.

It was one of those out of town bars, just far enough away from any suspicious Spanish wives, and just that bit to far to walk to.

I'm sure you will have seen one before, they often have red neon lights outside and for some reason the outline of a female, and a pole.

Yes, our man Dick, had apparantly sampled the delights of more than a roundabout girl. This one worked from a pit stop Bar, and had accompanied him back to his Hotel where she had also relieved him of his expensive camera, watch, and the contents of his wallet, and rather bizarrely, all of the clothes he had been wearing, including his under crackers!

Of course, I averted my eyes as my partner and the bread man tucked Dick's dick, and accompanying baggage back into a fresh pair of underpants, and perhaps a little ungraciously, I recall thinking to myself that his long suffering wife possibly felt a little short changed when 'dancing' on his pole.

They do say size doesn't matter, but perhaps in light of her light fingers, (and having been an expert in such matters) the lady of the night possibly also felt a sense of disappointment, and took her revenge.

We bundled Dick out of the Hotel room, and dragged him to the lift. My partner was, by this time elevated to Lord Grumpy of Grumpy Town and was decidedly not amused. Neither was I. 

Even before all this, Dick was clearly a lover of pies and it felt like he had eaten his own body weight of the meat and two veg variety overnight. He was like a dead man on legs, but we propped him up in the back of the car and drove like the clappers through the empty streets towards the Aeropuerto and hoped for the best.

As you can imagine there was not much conversation flowing from the back seat of the car, and it was a very deflated Dick we eventually delivered back to the check in desk. 

The engaging wit had left Dicks building, and Mr Acutely Embarrassed of Liverpool had taken up residence instead. He couldn't really meet my eyes when we hugged farewell, and although I didn't comment, I swear my partner gave him a somewhat sheepish nod of man to man sympathy.

Once we had seen him safely through the boarding gate, our obligations were fulfilled, our work there was done, and we breathed a sigh of relief to finally see the back of him.

After all, we'd already seen more than enough of his front!

My only regret is that I couldn't have been a fly on the wall when Dick fell back into the arms of his wife at the other end of his journey, and how he explained the missing camera, watch and clothes, and oh yes, how did he account for those underpants. 

As a woman, I felt sure she would notice they were also missing.




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31 July 2014

Here at Eye on Spain, we have heard quite a few times from an unhappy lady who has found herself living in what sounds like simply the wrong place for her in Spain.

People want different things from their surroundings don't they. Some want absolute peace and quiet, and can live quite happily in what others might describe with a shudder as, isolation.

Some expats looking to settle in Spain long term, might prefer a buzzy place, with other English speaking people to engage with.  So really everyone has to do lots of research, so that they can make an informed decision about where to live in Spain to suit not only themselves, but their family too, and give themselves the best chance of creating the lifestyle they want.

I spent many years living in a rural, traditional Spanish village where there was no souvenir shop, no 'real' fish and chip shop, and no 'English' bar, upmarket or otherwise within, a 100km radius.

This truly was a one horse town with no horse. The tiny streets and alleyways, derelict buildings and tired, but solid, huge wooden doorways, would not have looked out of place in (old) Bethlehem.

At weekends, children played safely outside in the village square till the early hours, and during the day, at lunchtime, local news was broadcast from the town hall, via a series of big loudspeakers, strategically placed on various street corners and the very loud signal of an impending message was worthy of an international security alert. 

It never failed to scare me or my dog.

No need for gossip on the streets, if someone died at 12.15, respects were being paid by 12.30. A very 'Heath Robinson' approach, but it did the job effectively!

A handful of shops provided the basics of everyday life and many villagers had more than one job. The village postman was also the slaughterman at the local abbatoir, then, he rounded off his day, by serving his slaughtered cow, red hot and crispy from the barbeque at a restaruant where he also worked as a waiter.

Small fincas set in olive groves surrounded the village and in a doorway you would often find a very old lady selling large jars of family produce from a rickety table. No words were usually exchanged during the transactions, it was all done by sign language. Not because her buyers couldn't speak Spanish, but more because she was totally deaf.

I agree it sounds idyllic, but there is one thing that spoilt this little bit of Spanish heaven, and that was, the Englishman abroad.

Before the village was first 'discovered' by a few mature Brits, my guess is that life there was very quiet. I expect a minor irritation could have been the local 'young gun' in his souped up car, playing his music just a bit too loudly. But a quiet word from the Guardia Civil was usually enough to nip that in the bud.

But all good things come to an end, and in this case more British arrived, and they weren't just passing through.

Whilst there, I witnessed first hand how some English conducted themselves in this sleepy village, and what struck me was that this was SUCH an unusual place to attract the kind of people who seemed to want to live there.   Nearly 2 hours from a beach, over an hour from any town worth mentioning, and to be honest unless you were at least 60 years old, nothing much to do.

Just what was it that attracted the 30 year old, tattooed man, with matching earrings who clearly just wanted to be left alone to ride his quad bike like a maniac through very narrow backstreets, at all hours of the day and night. What fun that must have been for him. But not for anyone else.

Why would the parents of two high spirited lads of 9 and 11, relocate there to live in a house where some rooms had no roof and the sky was their ceiling. 

Boredom for them was trouble waiting to happen, and it did, when they chased a local farmer's elderly pig, with sticks, shouting so much that the pig collapsed and died.  Of course the parents were most indignant when the farmer quite rightly denounced them and wanted compensation for the loss of his animal.

Word soon got round, and the family gained a bad reputation within weeks of arriving. Subsequently their mother spent her days hanging from her balcony calling their names every few minutes, attempting (for damage limitation) to have them in her sight all the time.

They were grounded for the most insignificant misdemeanour, and in some ways that was easier for everyone; at least their Mum could relax then, because it was the only time she ever really knew where they were.  So much for a 'better life for the children'.

I recall another occasion, when during a warm summer evening, whilst the Spanish were celebrating one of their many Saints,  a very drunk 20 something English girl, threw her drink over another English couple, and overturned their plates of food.

A row eruped into the streets, with the sounds of 'fight, fight, fight', from the expats, literally fighting for airspace with the beautiful singing from the local Church choir during what was, to them, an important religious festival.

As you may imagine, not one of the 20 or so English men in the village had a job.  They had 'plans' and 'ideas', mainly dreamt up over copious bottles of San Miguel. They had no job in England, and I wondered what thought process made them leave the UK for a better life, only to recreate the same lifestyle they were so anxious to leave behind.

No effort was made by them to speak Spanish, no effort made to integrate with Spanish life. They just went and found other, like minded expats, and sat outside Spanish bars using the same expletives you might hear at any spit and sawdust pub at any hour of the day in England.

The only thing they seemed interested in cultivating was a good 'green' crop, grown easily on sunny terraces, and hidden from prying eyes with curtains of plastic sheeting, which always gave the game away in any case.

Or to put it in a more gracious way, maybe those bored English expats had simply settled in the wrong place for them. Perhaps a different village or town might have suited them much better.  There may have been work to occupy them, more things for their children to do, or maybe they would have behaved the same no matter where they were.

But can you just imagine, 20 or so stoned Spanish nationals, arriving in a sleepy English village, overtaking the pub on the green, disrupting the locals and fighting amongst themselves at the local Church fete?

Would it be tolerated?  By jove I don't think so!






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17 July 2014

Bon Dia Spain!

As soon as I left you in January 2013 I knew I'd made a terrible mistake, and by February I wanted to return to you, but sadly, doors had been shut, keys returned and the moment was lost.

But I can't forget you, there are so many things that I love, and miss.




I remember those hazy blue sky days, and the  clear blue back star filled nights, as well as sights and sounds I will only experience again when I return.







I miss the distant sound of the sheep bells. Thinking of them reminds me of the day my rescued Catalan Sheepdog came face to face with the shepherd and 100 of his free range flock, as he took them down the hill to drink in the River Ebro.  My dog's skills were clearly lacking and he was put firmly in his place by a lesser looking 'sheepdog' of dubious pedigree.

Judging by his attire, I think the shepherd was moonlighting, his set of blue garage overalls were a bit of a disappointment, where was his hooky stick which is compulsory in any Nativity scene. And where was his Shepherds Pie?


I miss the church clock that I could set my watch by. It had a very tired and mourneful tone, which chimed the hour, twice, every hour. You hardly noticed at mid day, but if you happened to be asleep before midnight, you certainly weren't at five past!


Along with the hourlie chimes, it also reminded the town of every quarter hour in between. In England, a lesser person living nearby would probably complain to the powers that be, and get an ASBO slapped on the clock tower, but not in my little Spanish town, the rusty church bell was revered, after all it has been there longer than most of the residents.






 The bell tower in the distance watching over the town.


I miss Maria Jose, she of the best baked Barra. Wrinkled and weary, Maria won't see 70 again.

If Maria was in full flow, with one of her equally aged Senora's, I wouldn't DARE cut in, and offer up my euro in an attempt to hurry proceedings along. Rickety chairs, as old as Maria were provided, I just sat and waited. And waited. No such thing in my town as 'popping' out for some bread!

Only when important matters of the day had been dissected, cheeks had been kissed, and Hasta Luego's had been exchanged might I get a nod of a toothless head in my direction, and the Barra would be mine.

I miss the cheery ancient farmer, on his equally ancient tractor, who always gave me a lovely wave and called out 'Bon Dia' whenever he saw me. Sometimes his trailer had just boxes of oranges on the back, but more often it was a bizare cargo of water, calor gas and a crate of live chickens and a small piglet.

All this was left in the smallest of spaces in the centre of the village whilst he popped into a local bar for his morning cafe solo and brandy.

Nobody complained, and if he should by chance completely obstruct the street as he collected his daily Tabac, the driver behind waited patiently, no hooting of impatient horns at this old timer.






So how else do I miss you, let me count the ways...

Your cool, clean trains, cafe con leche, deserted roads, cold vino tinto, pavement cafe's, the happy laughter from the open air pool, the firecracking Fiesta's, seeing generations of families having a BBQ in the street outside their own front door, watching very old village folk play an intense game of dominoes in the local Sociadad, the madding 'manyana', asparagus in every salad, huge measures of spirits, the way you celebrate SO many Saints, the temperature showing outside the Pharmacy, the availability of rabbit in every supermarket.

I even miss the beautiful torture of scratching a mozzie bite.

Now that surely IS love!

What would you miss most about Spain?


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10 July 2014

Even though my heart is undoubtedly in Spain, it would have been churlish to turn down the offer of a trip to the South of France for some sun, sea and St.Tropez tan.  So I was forced to venture, once again, with some trepidation, onto the dark side of airline websites, Ryanair.

You may remember a few weeks back, I rambled on about my flying OCD, and so I wasn't looking forward to the journey, but I braced myself, and booked my flight to Toulon.


As some of you will know, the Ryanair website has perked up, and it's a bit quicker and easier to get to the flight confirmation 'gate'.

I circumnavigated the 'allocated seat' option, as my own particular 'flight plan' ritual means that I always buy a priority boarding ticket at Stansted, so I can nip in the back door, and claim my usual seat before anyone else get's their bum on it.

A few days before leaving home, I did the compulsory check in, and guess what, it seems, that unless you've coughed up £10.00 each way for allocated seats, you can't seem to check in for your homeward flight until a week before your journey, which means you either HAVE to pay £20.00 for a round trip, or you have to be certain you'll be able to print off your homeward boarding pass, 'somewhere' during your trip.

So the winnner of this particular challenge is inevitably going to be.....Ryanair

At Stansted, the usual sweet smiling ground hostess touting the little yellow priority boarding stickers was nowhere to be seen.  It wasn't a great start, but despite all this, I stuck to all my other in flight rituals, survived the flight and had a damn good time in France!

Fast forward to the return trip from Toulon back to Stansted, and more Ryanair tomfoolery was to come.

The new 2 small hand baggage allowance meant that I didn't need to 'go large' with my suitcase, so I stupidly thought I'd be able to avoid the carousel, and fast track through baggage reclaim.  I'd be out of Stansted quicker than quick.  Silly me.

Toulon is a lovely airport, small but efficient.  Because I only had hand luggage I was into the departure lounge with no queueing at all, but then I came across the first barrier to my fuss free journey.

A lovely little Madamoiselle stood blocking my path and told me that my flight was VERY full. (note the emphasis) So one of my bags MUST go in the hold, at no cost, to make more room for everyone's smaller hand luggage within the cabin.

Before I could protest about my case not being locked and it contained valuables, a yellow sticker was slapped on it and I was told to leave it at the bottom of the steps to the plane!


Rather strangely, I thought, virtually every passenger with two bags received the same instructions and the same sticker on the largest of their bags.  It was chaos for everyone, with lots of heavy sighing and disgruntled muttering going on.

Like myself, other passengers were not happy putting their hand cases in the hold. We all had to stand and repack valuables, such as lap tops and camera's into the bags that were allowed in the cabin. As I approached the plane, the luggage cage was groaning under the weight of all the bags to go in the hold.

Despite my lack of priority boarding, I scooted round to the back of the plane, and took ownershiip of my favorite seat, and suprise surprise the plane was not VERY full at all.

There were at least 25 empty seats that I could count, so Madamoiselle Ryanair was telling porkies when she told me otherwise.

So my hoped for quick 'transfer' through baggage reclaim at Stansted was thwarted.  Firstly it took an age for the correct carousel to show on the information screen, then a further age for the said carousel to actually crank up and start turning, and of course isn't it always the way that 'your' bag is always one of the last to show up.

So what was Ryanair's little game all about do you think?

Is there any benefit to them in using the ground baggage services at Stansted, or was it simply about weight distribution on the plane. Either way, I would prefer to keep my valuables close to me on a flight, surely that's the whole point of hand luggage.   

I don't mind my knickers going missing, but how would I write this blog if my laptop got lost en route!

Would you be happy to put your possibly unlocked small case into the hold if you had been expecting to keep it near you throughout your flight.

Or am I just suffering from Ryanair paranoia!






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12 June 2014


Show me a woman with an obsessive cleaning disorder, who spends her days washing  and ironing, cleaning and polishing, sweeping and hovering, for hours on end, and I’ll show you one who would rather sit writing ‘stuff’, whether it be on the computer, or in dust on the telly.

However, once I’m on my way to Stansted airport, en route to Spain, I find myself verging on the edge of a different sort of OCD, the Obsessive Compulsive one, which makes me do the same things, every time I fly.

I won’t deny it, I gets excited walking into the airport. I love the buzz, even if Stansted often has the ability to infuriate me, as well as make me very happy in equal measure. 

Unless you can get your smalls in one small carryon bag, we all know the drill. Even now they’ve introduced ‘baggage drop off areas’ the queues are just the same.

We just have to check in twice now, once online, AND at the baggage drop off area. It’s just the same thing in disguise. A desk by any other name springs to mind.

I like to get there early, buy some girly magazines ( NO not those sort), a huge Mocha Coffee from Pret, then it’s a long happy wait, and a people watch for me, till the information board calls me, and I make my way to gates 42-50. 

Those are the ones where you go down the escalator, walk what seems like miles, and then go up the escalator, and then walk what seems like more miles. After that, your gate is always the one at the end, and if its gate 50, good luck, that’s another frolic on the escalator and back into the bowels of the departure lounge.

It’s at this point that my mild obsessiveness starts to kick in.  If I haven’t bought my priority boarding pass online, I always buy it at the airport. It’s exorbitantly priced, I agree. But to a disordered woman like me, it has to be done. It’s part of my flying ritual.

I head to the boarding gate, and stand in the left hand PRIORITY BOARDING queue. And that’s when my eyes go into overdrive. I find myself peering ahead of me, and if I spot ‘OTHER QUEUE’ on a fellow passengers boarding pass my indignation meter goes off the scale.

After all, I’ve bloody well paid to be in this queue, any interlopers can totter off to the back of the ‘I’ll get on the plane just as quick’ queue. Go on, do one. I'm the silly one here, let me have my moment!

I wonder if I should point out their oversight, or wait for Miss Efficient to check for their Priority Boarding right of passage, and whose day is only made when she can’t fit your bag into the ‘ does your bag fit’ thingy, and if it doesn’t, smiles smugly as she charges you a small mortgage to actually take you’re not so small smalls on the plane.

I ALWAYS board the plane from the back, and my seat is ALWAYS 4th from the back on the right hand side, and it’s ALWAYS an aisle seat.  God help anyone who is already sitting there. MY hand luggage ALWAYS goes in that little overhead luggage cubby hole. The single one. Never any other.  I paid to get there first, it’s mine I tell you. Mine.

And then I sit and watch as the ‘other queue’ take their seats and the Ryanair kerfuffle begins.  I know you’ve ALL seen it. As the plane fills up, there’s nowhere for the luggage to go. The blue clad beauties shuffle bags, and when they simple don’t fit into the over-head locker, then they stoically stow them under seats. They insist on separating families and friends, as if their badge of honour wings depended on it.

A kind of calm pervades the cabin as we prepare for take-off. I’m in shreds because, in  case you hadn’t got the message.......  

I BLOODY HATE FLYING!  I really couldn’t have picked a more unsuitable lifestyle.

We reverse slowly out of the gate and head towards the runway. Miss Ryanair x 2 are doing their thing with the gas mask and blowy up life jacket.

Miss Ryanair number 3 ALWAYS runs up from the rear just after they’ve pointed out the emergency exits.   Have you ever wondered why she’s always late into the safety check party? 

Well I did wonder and so after about 20 flights I actually asked.

It’s because she has to work the switch that lights the floor to show the exits during the safety talk.  Job done, she joins in with the others, even though hardly anyone has the good manners to listen.

‘Cabin Crew seats for take-off please’ comes next, and I’m ready.  The engine revs up, my hands go over my ears, and I shut my eyes tight and brace myself for that moment when the wheels have left the runway. To be honest, I’m not even that keen on lifts, so now is not my moment.


At 30,000 ft above the clouds I always eat the sandwich I have bought with me, and, I always buy Sour Cream and Chive Pringles, and treat myself to the most exorbitantly priced, smallest bottle of wine in the history of aviation. 


But then, when the rear cabin door opens, and the blue sky and heat greets me, I actually do know exactly why I put myself through all my silly rituals.

I'm back in SPAIN!


Three things that make me wonder:

At Stansted:  Why do they need to hold you like cattle, at the door leading onto the tarmac, to wait for the plane to be ready? 

Why can’t you simply wait in the departure lounge until the plane is completely ready?

At most Spanish airports:  Why, do they lead you out onto the baking hot tarmac to wait for the plane to be ready? 

Why can’t you simply wait in the departure lounge until the plane is completely ready?

Why is your suitcase always the last one loaded onto the carousel?

That one’s easy, it’s Sods Law!

 Do you have any funny little rituals that you follow to take

the stress out of difficult situations.


You can also find me at:

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