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The Curmudgeon

The curmudgeon is a miserable sod. He likes to have a moan. He tackles subjects which many foreigners living in Spain agree with but are too polite to say anything.

Gotcha! Fraudster apprehended in Ronda
Monday, November 21, 2022

The Curmudgeon was in court today.  Not as the accused, nor the accuser, not even as a witness, but as interpreter. Let the grumpy guy explain.


Several months ago a friend of mine mislaid her bank card. She didn’t realise until two days later when she wanted to make a card purchase, by which time someone had used her missing card several times at different retail outlets and had “stolen” over 200 euros from her bank account.

“How can that be?” You ask. Well, the fraudster was astute enough to only make purchases below the 50€ limit at which you need to enter your PIN. At one establishment the bill came to over 50, so he split it into two payments. Wasn’t the merchant suspicious? Humph!

My friend immediately blocked her card and went to the police to make a report (denuncia). Then to her bank to reclaim the lost money (banks are insured to cover such losses, provided the victim can produce a denuncia).

It took the bank a while to process the claim, but after several weeks she eventually had the lost amount credited to her account.

In considering how this could have happened, my friend recalled that she had paid her car park charge on the Tuesday evening in question by using her card. She recalled that there was a one-legged beggar hanging around the ticket machine asking for money. Could it have been him?

No matter. She had got her money back, so she thought no more about it.

However, contrary to what we often think about the police, ie that they don’t bother investigating such incidents, they had done some digging. Not that challenging – after all, they knew from the bank at which outlets the card had been used.

Several months later my friend received a registered letter from the court, summoning her to appear as a witness at the trial of Marcelino R. for this offence.

Despite being a curmudgeon, I am more than happy to help out friends when they need linguistic support, so I attended court to interpret for my friend who is foreign and doesn’t have good Spanish.

We arrived in good time and were eventually ushered into the courtroom, where there were the court official, the usher, the judge and a police officer. No sign of the accused.

The judge was informed about the case and took some time to read the paperwork. We were then informed that the accused was not present as he was in prison for another offence.

However, after a few moments Marcelino R. appeared on a live video link. Lo and behold! It was the one-legged beggar!

He was informed about the proceedings and was asked if he had used the card, which he had found, to make purchases. He denied it (well, he would, wouldn’t he?). The court official informed him that if he did not plead guilty he would get a more severe sentence than the minimum, which was 30 days and a fine.

My friend and I were asked to approach the microphone and answer the judge’s questions. Which we did. That went smoothly and we sat down again.

Marcelino R. was asked again whether he had used the card and he confirmed that he had.

Accordingly, the judge sentenced him to 30 days plus 10€ a day. Marcelino R. asked how he was supposed to pay a fine of 300€, since he was in gaol and had no income. Bizarrely, the judge reduced the fine to 6€ a day, so 180€, which Marcelino R. still has to find somewhere.

We were thanked for our testimony and told we could leave.


My friend thought the judgement was somewhat harsh. I didn’t! Maybe Marcelino will learn, but I doubt it!


Further reading:

To read an article about beggars, click here.


Tags: accused, accuser, bank, card, claim, court, court official, curmudgeon, denuncia, fine, foreign, fraud, interpreter, judge, limit, linguistic support, Marcelino, PIN, police, police officer, purchase, report, retail outlet, usher, video link, witness 

Like 3        Published at 7:28 PM   Comments (0)

Nowhere to Eat or Drink
Friday, November 11, 2022

The village where The Curmudgeon lives is beautiful, a pueblo blanco set high in the mountains of the Sierra de Grazalema. He loves living there ….. except on Thursdays!


The small village where I live some of the time is a great place: friendly locals, a spattering of foreign residents  and plenty to do.

However, two problems have emerged this year, which are concerning local and guiri alike.



Firstly, this village of almost 1000 souls has “lost” five bars / restaurants in 2022 alone. There were 12 on 1 January; there are just seven today, 11 November.

The reason for this is neither Covid-19, the cost-of-living crisis nor the lack of tourists. The five that closed were all for legitimate other reasons, since all five were economically viable. It’s unfortunate that they all came one after the other. Just bad luck: one bar owner retired (he was 66); another closed down (he was 22); three thirty-somethings, who had successfully run two establishments for a couple of years, decided to try something else; and the fifth? His lease was up and wasn’t renewed.



The second problem, which directly inspired this moan from me (and others, I have to say), is Thursdays, funnily enough market day! This is the day of the week when two of the three bars in the square choose to have their rest day. The remaining bar there does not open until 9.00 am and doesn’t offer breakfast. Another café in the village does breakfasts but he doesn’t open until 9.00 am either. The remaining two are pubs, so they only open late afternoons through till the early hours.

Workers, old men and insomniacs, who like an early coffee and a natter, have to get in their cars and drive to the next village. At least there the bar opens at 6.00 am!


It got worse

This Thursday, yesterday, it was even worse. There was nowhere to get a coffee, a beer or a tapa. The two remaining bars that are normally open, were on their annual holidays!

Yesterday everyone was wandering around, lost and confused with nowhere to get a caffeine hit or a chupito. Crazy or what? Everyone was wondering what happened to communication, cooperation and forward-planning? Surely between all the bar-owners and with the "encouragement" of the Town Hall, a contingency plan could have been organised …..

Just saying …..!

Like 4        Published at 6:46 AM   Comments (4)

My Top 10 Bugbears – From Banks to VOX
Thursday, November 3, 2022

The Curmudgeon is in a bad mood. Lately a few things have been getting on his nerves. He needs to get them off his chest.

Here he lists in alphabetical order the 10 things that are p**sing him off at the moment down here in Andalucía.


The Banks

I wrote about this recently (click here). In summary, the big high street banks are making huge profits from OUR MONEY, yet are offering customers an ever worsening level of service. Top offenders in my experience are Santander, BancSabadell and Unicaja (numbers 1, 4 and 5 in Spain respectively). I’d be surprised if the others are any better, although up to npw I’ve had a good service from CaixaBank.

Despite making lots of money, these successful banks are charging customers maintenance fees, closing branches and trying to shift us to online banking. At least one (Unicaja) has cut its services in languages other than Spanish. It’s an absolute disgrace.


Cita Previa

The need to apply online or on the phone for a prior appointment to do most things official is very frustrating.

Introduced during the pandemic for obvious reasons, now that Coronavirus is to some extent under control, the system is being abused, with entities continuing to insist on one.

I had to get one recently just to pick up a letter from Hacienda!


Cruzcampo lager

Why do andaluces love this beer so much? It’s horrible, yet it’s ubiquitous in Andalucía – it’s only just about drinkable when served ice cold.

Well, what do you expect? Cruzcampo is owned by Heineken, which alongside Anheuser-Busch probably brew the worst lagers in the world.

Fortunately, for me and other non-andaluces, although most bars round here sell Cruzcampo on draft, they usually stock a more varied range of bottled beers (tercios). Commonly available are Alhambra Verde and Alhambra Blanca (Granada), Estrella Galicia (A Coruña), Victoria (Málaga) and If you’re really lucky you might find El Águila  (Madrid), El Alcázar (Jaen) or Turia (Valencia).


Damas (Bus Company)

The taquilla in Ronda Bus Station only opens for two ½ hour slots in the morning and not at all at weekends.

The booking website doesn’t work properly, in that you can’t apply discounts and if you ring either of their two advertised telephone numbers, nobody answers.

Fortunately, you can pay the driver and get the discount, but you can’t buy a return ticket, thereby missing out on the discount for booking ida y vuelta.

The final annoyance is that, despite advertising free Wi-Fi, it doesn’t work very well, at least not on the Ronda to Seville route which we used recently.

This company functioned much better when it was just plain old Amarillas.



There are loads of delivery companies that bring us our online purchases, but DHL is one of the biggest. Indeed, it runs the privatised Deutsche Post (German Post Office).

But they are quite frankly hopeless. Their local delivery driver knows full well where I live, yet last week an urgent packet could not be delivered, because the driver reported neither my house nor my street exists! Funny that, for the road has been there since medieval times – it’s a via pecuaria or cañada real (drovers’ path) and the house has been there over 30 years!


Guardia Civil Tráfico

Unlike the guardia civil in general, Tráfico are the pits!

They just fine and fine!

Recently, they fined a 71-year-old lady friend of mine because she stopped briefly on the highway to pick up her husband, who was on foot, and they just happened to be driving past. She’d never been fined in 54 years of driving, a point which was made to the officers, but they weren’t prepared to let her off.

By the way, the lady is my wife. And guess who had to pay the fine?

When I mentioned the incident in passing to a couple of our local village guardias, whom I know, they said: “They’re no friends of ours, nor colleagues – they’re just sinvergüenzas.”

To keep the record straight, I like the “normal” guardias civiles. Of the three police bodies in Spain, they come out top in my opinion, ahead of the Policía Nacional and the Policía Local. I wrote about it here.



The sheer incompetence and intransigence of the Spanish equivalent of the British Inland Revenue never ceases to amaze me.

Every year I receive a letter accusing me of tax avoidance/evasion, because I don’t pay them any income tax on my UK pension. And every year I have to point out that my pension is a local government pension, which is taxed in the UK, so I am not liable to pay tax on it again in Spain.

I am fiscally resident in Spain, as I am a permanent resident here, but there is an agreement between Spain and the UK, so that this type of pension is not taxed twice.

You would think that somebody at the Agencia Tributaria would cotton on and save everybody time and money.


Partido Popular

What is going on? The PP has been in control of the regional government in Andalucía since 2017. I cannot understand it. How can a region like Andalucía that has always been socialist since the Civil War, elect a right-wing party?

And, what’s worse, it’s looking like the PP will form the next national government after the next general election in 2023, despite Pedro Sánchez, the current prime minister, having done a great job, especially in dealing with Covid and now with the cost-of-living crisis.

Look what’s happened in the UK with 12 years of a Conservative-led government. Five prime ministers (Cameron, May, Johnson, Truss and now Sunak), a ruined economy, out of the European Union, a laughingstock in the rest of the world. Does Spain want something similar under the leadership of the distinctly un-charismatic and naff Alberto Nuñez Fijoo?

My big problem with right-of-centre parties is that they only look after themselves and their cronies at the expense of the poor and needy.


Policia Local

Like guardia civil tráfico they love dishing out parking fines, showing little sympathy and understanding. I picked up five in my village in 2021, from the same two municipales! I also picked up two in Ronda, one in Estepona and one in Fuengirola. Pretty expensive at 200€ a time (100€ if you pay quickly). I make that 900€ I’ve contributed to the annual police ball!



I cannot abide any political party that smacks of the extreme right.

Look what happened in the middle of the 20th Century with fascism rife in Germany, Italy and Spain. Oh, and also in Great Britain (remember Oswald Moseley?).

First the Spanish Civil War (1936 – 1939) and then World War II that lasted six years (1939 – 1945). Both cost millions of lives and the repercussions are still being felt today, 80 years later.

The rise of the AFD (Alternative für Deutschland) in Germany, of Marine Le Pen and her far-right National Re-Unification party in France and VOX in Spain is a real cause for concern.

Vladimir Putin, president of Russia, for all his claims to the contrary, is an out-and-out fascist, whilst claiming that the West are the real Nazis! Around here we call him: hijo de Putin! (Geddit?)


© The Curmudgeon


Tags: The Curmudgeon, banks, Santander, BancSabadell, CaixaBank, Unicaja, cita previa, Cruzcampo, Heineken, Anheuser-Busch, Damas, DHL, guardia civil, tráfico, hacienda, partido popular, policía local, vox, fascism, far-right, Putin, Civil War, World War II

Like 1        Published at 9:16 PM   Comments (0)

The Tax Man, Spanish Banks and the Policia Local
Wednesday, October 19, 2022

The Curmudgeon, despite his nickname, is a pretty positive guy. Despite the many challenges of living as a foreigner in Spain, he wouldn’t live anywhere else. But three things, or bodies, really get on his wick. He explains why ….


What is the matter with these people? Tax inspectors, bankers and local bobbies manage to annoy most of us, Spaniards as well as foreigners.


The Tax Man

Take the Agencia Tributaria, aka Hacienda, equivalent to the British Inland Revenue, for example. Why are they so stupid? Is it because they are funcionarios (ie job for life, no matter how incompetent, inefficient or rude they are)?

For the last four years I have received a letter from them accusing me of not paying tax on my UK private pension. I have to prove that I have already paid tax on this pension, which is a public sector one, whereby tax is paid in the UK, wherever you live. Spain accepts this, but I have to prove it every year. Why was the first time not sufficient?

I know of British residents in Spain who end up paying tax twice on these hard-earned pensions, simply because they do not know how to sort it out. My answer is use a gestor. However good you might be at Spanish (and I am fluent) you need an expert. The Spanish use gestores all the time. Why not? They know what they’re doing and they are not expensive. Mine does my tax return every year for 50 euros.

But the fact that there is a solution out there, doesn’t negate the fact that the staff of the Agencia Tributaria must be stupid or incompetent.


Spanish Banks

Most holders of Spanish bank accounts have a grievance or several. These organisations, which are making vast profits, are closing branches left right and centre and trying to shift us all to digital or telephone banking.

One of the things I always used to like about Spanish banks (I’ve been an accountholder for nearly 25 years) was the number of branches and the accessibility of a physical person to speak to, often the manager him or herself.

Unicaja, when it was a regional caja de ahorros (savings bank), is a case in point. An amalgam of small provincial savings banks in Andalucía, there were branches everywhere and the staff were friendly and helpful.

Since they’ve become a bank, buying up Liberbank and becoming the fifth largest bank in all of Spain, they don’t seem to care any longer.

Their strategy seems to be to make as much profit as possible, close as many branches as possible, charge more for their services and cut back on those very services. For example, removing foreign language options for their many foreign customers. English is still available, but German has been cut back so that my German wife can no longer work comfortably in her mother tongue online.

Other banks are no better. Most have tightened their conditions for free banking. I had always enjoyed free banking with Unicaja and my other bank BancSabadell. Unicaja started to charge me, after I had been a loyal customer for 20 years, because I no longer met all of their (changed) pre-requisites. They refused to budge so I closed my account and moved to CaixaBank where I have free banking again.

I was delighted with BancSabadell for years, enjoying access to the manager, Carlos, whenever I needed it without the need to apply for a cita previa.

Then, overnight, they closed the only branch in the town where I live, without informing us, other than via a sheet of A4 stuck to the window of the branch. The nearest branch is now over an hour away by car.

Carlos assured me the service would continue to be available on the phone and they were going to maintain the cajero (cash machine) in my town. Within six months that too was closed and removed. And Carlos never answered nor returned my calls.

I have closed my account.

CaixaBank is good and banking is free. You also get a free RENFE railcard if you are over 65. One disappointment is that the branch I use, in a village with 980 residents and no other bank (Unicaja closed their office years ago), CaixaBank has reduced the opening hours to just three days a week. The cajero works though and there are two other branches in nearby Ronda.

Fellow EyeOnSpain blogger Pablo de Ronda carried out an analysis of the main Spanish banks last autumn. Click here to read his report.


Policía Local

Why are these jumped-up jobsworths so intransigent and inflexible? Everybody hates them. They’re like traffic wardens in the UK, dishing out parking fines left, right and centre. And the fine is not cheap. An eye-watering 200€ a time (100€ if you pay up sharpish).

I was carrying out a house renovation in a tiny narrow-streeted, Moorish mountain village and needed to park “illegally” for short periods to unload materials and to load rubbish. This is allowed. Despite this, the local fuzz fined me five times in 2021 alone!

Once while my workers were unloading sacks of cement, sand, bricks and other materials. They actually stood there writing out the ticket. When I appealed to the agentes to use a bit of common sense they refused. I was going to protest in writing, but I was advised by many, including my gestor, to just pay up. If I had protested, I would have forfeited my right to the 50% discount for paying quickly. And, as everybody said, you never win against the police.

On the last occasion I received a parking ticket, I adopted a new strategy – I just ignored it. That was nearly a year ago and nothing has happened.

I was also fined twice in Ronda and once in Estepona, although the Estepona one never arrived.

I have just been denunciado by the local police of another village for depositing small sacks of building rubble in several rubbish containers. That’s fair enough. I knew it was wrong, so it’s a fair cop.

Nevertheless, overall, I find the inflexibility of the Policía Local way over-the-top.

And don’t get me started on Guardia Civil Tráfico …..!!!


OK, rant over for today. But you can be absolutely sure that none of these people will be getting a Christmas card from The Curmudgeon.

Like 3        Published at 11:26 AM   Comments (15)

The Downing Street Clown finally falls on his sword
Friday, July 22, 2022

But where does Boris Johnson’s demise leave the failed Brexit project?

The Curmudgeon still cannot understand how Boris Johnson could have become prime minister of the United Kingdom. We all knew that he was a liar and a cheat, that he was  a buffoon who took the mickey out of a gullible electorate, who continually made a fool of himself on his various campaign trails, who took great pleasure in flattening that small child in a rugby match all those years ago.

His record as a journalist, as Mayor of London and as a disastrous Foreign Secretary gave us sufficient clues about the nature of this horrible man, an overweight, amoral, privileged brat. Bojo  used Brexit as a tool to achieve his goal of becoming “king of the world”. Well, now he’s gone and, as the Curmudgeon says: “Good riddance!”


Boris Johnson's resignation on Thursday of last week opens a new stage in the battle against Brexit.

His was the Brexit Government. That is how it was elected, that is what it was for. Looking back, we will see the fall of Boris Johnson as the first step on the road to rejoining the EU or at least the Single Market.

In his resignation speech on the steps of Downing Street on 7 July Johnson claimed that he 'got Brexit done' -– but he did no such thing. The Brexit deal still has not been fully implemented, and now likely never will be.

The Brexit project and the rise of Boris Johnson to the office of prime minister were inextricably linked. He used Brexit, pushing it not because he thought it was a good idea, but to take power for himself.

And both Brexit and Johnson were based on the same politics: nostalgia, authoritarianism, racism, denial about Britain's place in the world and, above all else, lies upon lies upon lies.

On both fronts, the spell has worn off. The Tory MPs removed Boris Johnson to save their own skins, because he is no longer an election winner.

And likewise, Brexit's popularity has also collapsed. In the latest polls, 58% now say it was wrong for Britain to leave the EU, 60% say Brexit is going badly and 53% support rejoining the EU immediately.

Despite the growing popularity of the campaign to rejoin the EU, there has been some scepticism about whether it is really possible.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer’s announcement this week that a Labour government would not attempt to rejoin the EU is not helpful, although he may be being politically and tactically astute. If Labour is seen as the rejoin party, they may well spoil their chances of getting elected.

However, with Johnson gone, the prospects for rejoining just rose significantly.

Bojo, the incompetent, lying, dishonest and unprincipled clown of Downing Street, is dead! Long live honesty and integrity!


Tags: Boris Johnson, Brexit, EU, resignation, clown, Bojo, liar, cheat, buffoon, amoral, journalist, Mayor of London, Foreign Secretary, Keir Starmer, Labour, Downing Street, election

Like 0        Published at 6:54 AM   Comments (0)

A Change is as Good as a Rest – No, it’s not! Or is it?
Friday, June 17, 2022

Most of us don’t like change. Sometimes it’s for the better, but not everybody sees it that way. Pablo de Ronda has noticed a lot of changes recently around his patch. In his opinion, not always good at first, but sometimes it gives new energy to local life. The Curmudgeon, on the other hand, doesn’t like change at all. It just makes him cross. In this joint article, they go into more detail.

Pablo de Ronda: There seems to be a lot of change at the moment. For most of my life I’ve preferred the status quo, because it’s usually easier. Lately, however, and since Covid-19 appeared and blighted our lives to a huge extent, I think that change has often brought about good outcomes.

The Curmudgeon: All the changes we’re experiencing make me really cross and usually just make daily life a lot harder.



When someone passes this represents a big change, not just for loved ones of the deceased.

Famous people die all the time.

Recently we lost rock drummer Charlie Watts of The Rolling Stones and keyboardist Andrew Fletcher of Depeche ModeVangelis, the Greek composer of those wonderful film scores, such as Chariots of Fire, has left us.

On Monday, as Pablo de Ronda flew to the UK for the strewing of the ashes of Andy, the husband of his niece Nicki and father of Alex and Willow, who died two years ago in a light plane crash in Australia aged 44, he learned that Phil Bennett, the Welsh rugby union legend, had just died aged 73.

Five villagers from Montejaque (Málaga) died of Covid-19, each of which constituted changes to the lives of relatives and friends and to the life of the village.


Working from home

Introduced on a massive scale to help countries to cope with the volume of cases of the Coronavirus, this has been a positive change. As employers have realised that the output of their staff has not diminished but increased, that their workers really are working for the company, and not taking the dog for a walk, playing with the children, gardening or decorating the spare room, this has been a positive change, both for the environment (less travel) and for the wellbeing and mental health of their staff.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, the UK government cabinet minister, who thinks that all civil servants should return to their offices, should keep his silly mouth shut.


Health and Hygiene

The pandemic has brought about a number of changes in the world of health and hygiene.

At the start of the first lockdown, we discovered we had been washing our hands incorrectly for thousands of years. We learned to sneeze into our armpits and to tap elbows or fists as the new form of greeting. Handshakes and kissing on both cheeks was definitely out.

Doctors began telephone consultationsThe Curmudgeon’s wife, after being very ill from Covid-19, was offered physiotherapy ….. over the phone!

Within the private health care sector, many specialists in Ronda declared themselves unavailable for consultations for fear of catching the bicho.

The Curmudgeon says: “We had to travel to the coast to see various specialists. Obviously the Coronavirus wasn’t as dangerous down there, as most specialists continued to ply their trade! Funny, that!”

The vaccination programme went very well in and around Ronda. Pablo de Ronda and his wife were full of praise for the efficiency, timeliness and expertise of Salud Andalucía, who completed three jabs for all adults ahead of time.

“On top of that our certificates were on the Salud Andalucía app within no time at all,” said Pablo.

The downside of the pandemic is that other routine procedures and operations were not dealt with for the best part of two years and there is a huge backlog.

The Curmudgeon, a recently diagnosed type-2 diabetic, complains that he cannot get a blood test on the national health system. “The protocol states that blood tests are only available every six months,” said his doctor.

“It’s ridiculous,” moans The Curmudgeon“Testing the sugar levels in the blood of diabetics regularly is crucially important. In other countries, eg Germany, you get a blood test every month.”

“I can get one done privately on demand, but what about people who can’t afford to? It’s not fair at all!”


Daily Life

Cita Previa

Introduced during the lockdowns for hygiene and safety reasons, this is now being abused by companies and organisations continuing with the practice, when arguably it is no longer necessary. For example, The Curmudgeon had to collect a letter from Hacienda last week, so he went along to the office expecting to be able to just pick it up, but no, he had to make a cita previa to carry out a process that took two minutes. "Ridiculous!" he chuntered, "Bureaucracy gone mad!"

On the other hand, sometimes a cita previa would work better and save us a lot of time sitting around waiting.

To do anything at a comisaria de policia, you just have to show up and wait. The Curmudgeon needed to do a denuncia a while back. He had to go three times because the first two times the (only) officer in charge of denuncias was busy on other matters. And on the third occasion he had to wait nearly two hours to get the report done!

“I have better things to do than sit around the police station for ages. And what’s more, they don’t have a public toilet, so if you’ve got a dodgy bladder like I have, it’s a nightmare!”

He also needed to register a rental property. He went twice last week. The first time he waited an hour and then gave up. The second time the (only) officer designated for this task wasn’t even there. He has yet to go a third time.

“I thought the police were supposed to be public servants,” he said. “Hah!”


There are huge and controversial changes in the field of banking, so much so that The Curmudgeon has left two banks in the space of six months.

“When my main bank, Unicaja, got too big for its boots and went from being a relatively small regional savings bank to becoming the fifth largest bank in Spain, they stopped caring about their loyal customers in Andalucía.”

Despite making huge profits, they’re closing branches left, right and centre and trying to force their customers, many of them old and without computers or smart phones, to do their banking online.

The Curmudgeon continues: “I was with Unicaja for over 20 years, but when they changed their conditions for free banking and wouldn’t budge despite my long time as a client, I closed the account and went to CaixaBank where the requirements for free banking are less onerous.”

He has also just closed his account with BancSabadell for several reasons. Firstly, they closed the branch in Ronda last December. “I knew it would be a problem, not having direct access to a branch (the next nearest is an hour away in San Pedro de Alcántara) but I agreed to give it a try. Sometimes their cajero isn’t working but, worst of all, when I recently ordered new cards, they were unable to activate them even on the phone or online.”

Three times The Curmudgeon called the manager and left messages requesting a call back and no call came. So, he’s closed the account and will just use CaixaBank from now on.


A few stores have changed hands. Supersol is no more. French supermarket chain Carrefour bought all their stores in Spain and are in the process of upgrading them, some to their economy chain Supeco"The stores are very yellow," complained The Curmudgeon. "I hate yellow!"

The other former Supersol store on the bypass, which has been closed for many years, was sold off in a different deal to Carmela, a Sevilla chain, and has now been trading for a couple of months.

Mercadona built a brand-new superstore next to ALDI and closed their old store opposite the new bus station. Bright and airy with easier parking, it’s a positive move from the Spanish chain.

Bars and Restaurants

A few bars and restaurants have closed their doors or changed hands in the last few months.

In RondaLocos Tapas has gone, because of the serious illness of owner Guillermo. That’s a real loss. This tiny tapas bar was the most innovative in the town and a delightful place to dine.

Also closed for good is Bar Maestro on Calle La Bola. Husband and wife Rafael and Paqui ran this popular bar for over 50 years before they reached retirement age and decided to stop.

Cafeteria/Panaderia Granier further up the same street seems to have closed its doors for good. We shall miss their excellent breakfasts and their pan noruego.

On the other hand the arrival of Miyagi Express, Ronda’s first Japanese Restaurant, and the new Moroccan restaurant in Plaza Carmen Abela, can only be a good thing for the town.

In Estación de Benaojan, Andy and Pauline have retired and have leased the charming hotel Molino del Santo to an Argentinian couple. "I haven’t tried it under new management yet, but I hear that standards are as high as before," observed Pablo de Ronda.

In MontejaqueBar Nazarí is no more. The young owner, Javi, realised being a “landlord” wasn’t what he wanted to do for the rest of his life. That's a change for the worse for The Curmudgeon, who loved to go there for a good old moan.

In the same village El Patio de Frasquito Pedro closed when the owner Pepe retired, but, good news, it reopened shortly afterwards as El Patio, when young entrepreneur Jacinto took it on.

Sad news from Estación de Jimera de Libar as Bar Allioli closed its doors after 14 years as the best live music venue in the Serrania de Ronda. We wish Paul and Synnove well.

Parking 🅿

As more and more bars and restaurants spill onto the streets of Ronda, more and more parking spaces are being lost. As streets are pedestrianised or upgraded, parking spaces disappear. Hence, the plan for the new car park in the Barrio de San Francisco, is more than necessary.

In MontejaqueThe Curmudgeon is not the only resident who was aghast when the mayor declared unilaterally that several streets where parking has always been allowed were no longer available.

However, as Pablo de Ronda, a frequent visitor to the village, pointed out: “The council has enlarged and improved the existing municipal car park, adding lighting and creating many more spaces. Work is also continuing to turn the old cemetery into an additional car park. As it has turned out, it was a smart decision.”

New Infrastructure

The new bus station, adjacent to the railway station, is well under construction, and the new swimming pool near LIDL is due to open to the public next week.

The plans for a massive car park in the Barrio de San Francisco to the south of Ronda have been approved, and a new access road from the barrio up to town is being planned.

The Curmudgeon thinks these projects are an unnecessary attack on the countryside in and around Ronda, while Pablo de Ronda thinks that both are necessary to keep traffic out of the centre, where parking is already a nightmare in the spring and summer.

The Alameda park overlooking the valley and the Sierra de Grazalema is due for an upgrade. “A senseless waste of money,” says The Curmudgeon“The Alameda is fine as it is!” Surprisingly, Pablo de Ronda agrees and thinks the money could be better spent elsewhere.


Houses changing hands

The housing market seems to be on the move again after years in the Doldrums. In Montejaque alone, more than a dozen houses have been sold in 2022. We will be welcoming new people from other parts of Spain, but also from the UK, Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Poland and Canada.

“This is a positive change,” says Pablo de Ronda“New blood means new investment in the local economy, eg construction, local shops, bars and restaurants, etc. Many of the houses had not been occupied for years and need renovation.”

“It’s also great to have new and different people from a range of nations to add to the rich tapestry of life in the village,” added Pablo.


The Murals

Over the last couple of years Ronda has undergone some changes to the urban landscape. Apart from the changes to the infrastructure mentioned earlier, the “City of Dreams” has acquired three giant murals and is about to acquire a fourth.

The first, a double mural on two apartment blocks at the old bus station were by famous street artist Oscar de Miguel (Okuda), This was followed by one at the Western entrance to the town by local artist Víctor Fernández“It’s my favourite, although I love them all!” said Pablo.

A third piece of wall art appeared on a gable end as you enter Ronda from the north via Avenida de Málaga. Also by Okuda.

The fourth is destined for the floor of a sports facility in San Rafael. This is by artist Víctor García. Work has already started and should last about three weeks.

These murals are part of a project called “Rebranding Ronda”.

Both Pablo de Ronda and The Curmudgeon like this change.


So, a change is as good as a rest? I think Pablo de Ronda and The Curmudgeon would have to agree to disagree about this.


STOP PRESS: The shock announcement earlier this week that BAR RESTAURANTE LA TERRAZA in Montejaque is to close has taken us all by surprise. That will bring about some changes. “I’ve no more reason to go to Montejaque,” said Pablo de Ronda. “I might have to move out,” grumbled The Curmudgeon.


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Why can’t we have dual nationality?  
Monday, May 23, 2022

As regional elections begin to be held in the 17 autonomous communities that make up Spain, attention is once again focused on the rights of foreigners, including British people, who reside full time in Spain. The Curmudgeon is sick to the back teeth at how he and countless others are disenfranchised. Some time ago he wrote a complaining article about foreigners not having the right to vote in national elections. Here he has a moan about the Spanish government not allowing dual nationality.


There have recently been regional elections in Castilla-León and Galicia. In Andalucía the regional vote has been organised for 29 June.

As a British man, permanently resident in Spain and empadronado (enrolled on the local padrón or census), I am able to vote in local, regional and, until Brexit, European elections, but not national ones.

An absolute disgrace! I have lived here and paid my dues here for more than a dozen years. I want a say in how my adopted country is governed.

Technically I could still vote in UK national elections if I could be bothered, like many, to fiddle it and get on the electoral roll. But I am no longer interested in voting in Warrington South, the constituency where I used to live, nor in exercising my right to vote in a country where I no longer live.

In my article on voting rights I referred to Giles Tremlett, a journalist who has lived in Madrid for donkeys years and is in the same boat as me and many thousands of others. He has been campaigning for years to get the vote in national elections here.

In 2016, in the aftermath of the Brexit Referendum. he switched his focus to another gripe that I have also held since the UK left the European Union. Dual nationality.

I wish to be a citizen of the European Union in my own right, not just because I happen to be married to an EU citizen. I do not like my status as a Third Country National.

I have researched acquiring Spanish nationality but to do so I will have to relinquish my British nationality and give up my British Passport, as Spain only allows dual nationality in a few circumstances, eg if you were born in Andorra (doh!), or come from a Spanish-speaking country in South or Central America.

Giles Tremlett together with fellow journalist William Chislett are calling for the Spanish government to grant dual nationality for British people who have resided in Spain for more than 10 years. To that end six years ago the two journalists organised an online petition, which achieved more than 17,000 signatures prior to being switched off.

Tremlett states: “Our petition is simple. As a result of the dramatic situation in which we find ourselves after Brexit, we urge the Spanish government to be generous to the country’s long-standing British community. Many of us could not vote in the Brexit referendum, so [that misguided decision by the British people] has been imposed on us against our will.”

It is clear that in order to allow dual nationality for those who have lived a long time in Spain it requires a change in Spanish legislation, but it would not be the first time this has happened.

In 2015, for example, the Conservative Partido Popular government of Mariano Rajoy offered double nationality to Sephardic Jews (the descendants of Jews expelled from Spain in 1492).

Spaniards resident in the UK already enjoy the right to joint nationality (unlike their counterparts in Spain) and Germany is considering making a similar offer to Britons who live there.

Tremlett continues: “We estimate there are around 25,000 Brits born in Spain or who have lived and worked here for more than 10 years (generally the required number of years for those seeking Spanish citizenship) might take up the offer.”

From the Spanish point of view, such a move would make a lot of sense in that it will also ensure that the country retains valuable human capital. 

We want to be Spaniards, Europeans and British – a reflection of our true identity, one that Brexit has taken away from us.

Tremlett and Chislett offer a hypothetical example:

Mr and Mrs Smith are British and have lived in Spain for 30 years. They came to the country when it joined the European Union in 1986. They liked it and decided to stay and work in one of its biggest cities, in the knowledge that their condition as EU citizens protected them as far as their rights were concerned and made clear what were their obligations. Between them, they have accumulated 60 years paying taxes and contributing to the Social Security system. Their two daughters were born in Spain, went to a state school and are now studying at British universities. When they graduate their daughters want to return to the country where they were brought up and regard as their home.

Brexit has left them confused and frightened. Will the daughters be able to return to the country of their birth and work? Can their parents collect their Spanish pensions if they have to live for a while in the UK? Would they be able to return to Spain? As regards to the age at which they retire, will the years they have paid into the British system count? And if their children want to continue their studies in Spain or elsewhere in Europe, will they pay EU or (costly) non-EU fees?

For the Smiths, like thousands of other Brits in Spain and thousands of Spaniards in the UK, the future is uncertain and deeply worrying.

The Smiths are friends of the Sánchez, a Spanish family that has lived a long time in the UK. Brexit creates similar problems for them, but they have found a solution to many of the practical problems and to the erosion of identity generated by the referendum result. The Sánchez have just applied for dual nationality.

The Smiths, however, do not have this option under Spanish legislation as they must first renounce their British nationality.

The Smiths and the Sánchez are, of course, fictitious, but they reflect the reality of many Spanish and British families who have based their lives on rules of co-existence that are now being torn up.

The two journalists support those Spaniards in the UK who can resolve the problems created by Brexit by requesting dual nationality (the son of Spanish foreign minister Jose Garcia-Margalio is doing this) and they urge the British government to treat them decently.

Nobody trusts the British government to represent our interests in this matter, however, which is why Tremlett and Chislett are going straight to the Spanish government, via both the Interior Ministry and the Foreign Ministry.

It is fair that the normal filters (knowledge of the Spanish language, the constitution, etc) should also be applied to those who seek dual nationality. According to my research applicants need to take an oral test as well as an examination based on the history, geography, culture, politics, etc of Spain.

I think this is perfectly reasonable.

The organisers of the petition asked Spaniards in the UK and in Spain to sign it, along with the many British people in Spain whose life plans have been so dramatically shattered.

As for me, the Curmudgeon, I’ll probably go ahead anyway and if necessary, give up my British passport.

After the political debacles of recent years, starting with David Cameron’s disastrous handling of the whole EU membership issue; the lies; the catastrophic vote; Theresa May’s short-lived ‘rule’; Boris Johnson’s election to prime minister; the bodged Brexit negotiations; his incompetence over Covid-19 and pretty much everything else; Northern Ireland; the corruption; the parties; the sexual scandals and BoJo’s refusal to resign, I am no longer proud to be British.

So, I’m off – regardless.


Further reading:

Why can't we have the vote?

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Spanish Police Check - What are the "fuzz" like?
Saturday, April 23, 2022



Police check in Spain


The Curmudgeon has had dealings with all three Spanish police forces over the years. Here is his assessment of their relative strengths and weaknesses and their level of ‘niceness’ or charm.

I was stopped by the tráfico section of the Guardia Civil on my way into Algunlugar the other day. Not sure what I’d done, but they asked for my car documents anyway and my ID.

While one of them was checking me out on his handheld computer, his colleague asked me if I had a police record.

Without hesitation, I replied: “Yes, sir, several in fact. ‘Walking on the Moon’, ‘Roxanne’, ‘Message in a Bottle’ …”


Three police forces

There are three different police bodies in Spain, which I have written about previously [please see hyperlink at end of article].

Each force has its own responsibilities, but there is sometimes an overlap, which is confusing for Spaniards as well as foreigners. Which one do you go to in order to report a crime, for example? Depends on whether the crime took pace in the town or in the country.


Guardia Civil

My first memories of the Spanish police date from the 1970s when I was in my early 20s studying Spanish in San Sebastián (Guipúzcoa).

These were the, at that time, dreaded Guardia CivilGeneral Franco’s ‘stormtroopers’. They had a reputation for fierceness and brutality and for being uncompromising.

Their patent-leather tricorn hats were a symbol of these quasi-military types and they struck fear into the hearts and minds of the locals, especially in the Basque country where Franco was ‘waging war’ on the Basque identity and their language euskera, which was prohibited.

In San Sebastián every August there was a machine-gun-toting guardia civil on every street corner. General Franco liked to spend his summer hols in the elegant Basque resort and the security had to be really tight.

Franco died in November 1975 and the process of Spain becoming a parliamentary democracy began in earnest, aided by and abetted by Franco’s nominated heir as head of state, King Juan Carlos I.

One thing that had to change was the Guardia Civil. The force was subjected to a root and branch makeover. They began a charm offensive; out went the military-style uniforms and the tricorn hats, the latter to be replaced by soft berets. They were trained to be respectful and pleasant towards the public.

So, 45 years on, most Guardia Civil officers are polite and friendly and, above all, human and flexible in their approach to law enforcement.


Policía Local

The same cannot be said of some officers of the Policía Local or los municipales, as they are known. My recent dealings with members of this force have left me flabbergasted and much worse off financially.

I have been fined for parking infringements four times in Algunlugar and twice elsewhere – that amounts to 600€ if you pay quickly and claim the 50% discount.

The way the system works is that if you pay within 20 working days and waive your right to challenge the fine, you pay only 100€ instead of 200€.

That’s unfair as it discourages motorists with a legitimate challenge from doing so. You never win against the cops anyway, I’ve been told by many a Spaniard. So, best to pay up sharpish, bite your tongue and get the discount.

Gone are the days when the local bobbies read the meters, monitored mums and dads outside schools at the start and end of the school day and delivered important official post.

If they caught you parked wrongly, they’d just ask you to move on.

Not any longer!


Policía Nacional

As for the Cuerpo Nacional de Policía I have had little to do with them in recent years, as they are responsible for combating crime, which I am not involved in (Honest, guv!).

We had some problems 10 years ago involving threatening behaviour, actual bodily harm and damage to property. The CNP officers were quick to respond to our emergency calls and to deal with the problems. Out of interest the perpetrator of these ‘crimes’, José O., is currently behind bars in Alhaurín de la Torre penitentiary. Best place for him and long overdue!

I have had to present a few denuncias – theft of wife’s handbag (twice!), my wallet (once), loss of passport, ill-treatment of animals, vandalism of two vehicles. That kind of thing.

On these occasions I found the officers to be slow and quite inefficient, yet polite and respectful also.


Police check

So, in conclusion, my rank order of ‘niceness’ is:

1st – La Guardia Civil; 2nd – La Policía Nacional; and a distant 3rd – La Policía Local.

And, guess which force earns the most?

You’ll be surprised!!


Note: To read an article about the roles of the three different police forces in Spain, click here.

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Good Samaritan? – not any more!
Tuesday, December 14, 2021

We all know the parable of the Good Samaritan, which was described in the Bible in the Gospel according to St Luke. Many of us aspire to behave like that person and to help people who need assistance. It’s a common human reaction. The Curmudgeon, despite his tendency to have a moan, has always tried to live by that code by giving assistance to others who need it, whether that support be physical, mental, spiritual or linguistic. However, a couple of recent experiences have made him less keen to jump in and help. He also recalls how in the past he has been “ripped off” here in Spain, but only by guiris. He explains.

Like many, my instinct to help others is strong. Maybe too strong. Usually it works out fine and your help is accepted and appreciated, but by no means always.

I recall two incidents from around 15 years ago when I had a “spare” house in Algunlugar, Casa Blanca. First of all in 2006 I let it to Amanda, a Scots lady, at a reduced rent, as she was “down on her luck”. Despite having a written letting agreement (contract), at the end of her rental period, she did a “runner”, left unpaid utilities bills and took some of my belongings with her, eg bedding, a step ladder and umpteen CDs.

Lesson learned? Nope. I subsequently let it to an Irish “friend”, Trish, who was separating from her husband and needed somewhere to stay. Again I was prepared to accept a lower rent and we agreed she would pay me cash, as and when she had some. Am I stupid or what? She stayed for over two years, and only moved out when I sold the house in 2008. Trish owed me over a grand at that point. Has she paid me? Of course not.

In the next decade or so nothing untoward happened until earlier this year I met Jan, an English lady who needed some help to get her property in the Serranía ready for an upcoming Airbnb rental. As part of that support I did a big shop for her, which came to over 80 Euros. That was six months ago. She hasn’t paid me and doesn’t seem inclined to do so. Doh!

It reminds me of that prelude to a corny joke: “Have you heard the one about the Englishwoman, the Irishwoman and the Scotswoman?”

But, when it comes to getting engañado, ripped off, the best is yet to come.

This summer I was having an early morning coffee in the hotel near my house when a little old lady came to the bar to talk to the waitress, who was also looking after reception between serving coffees and chupitos.

The old dear couldn’t make herself understood. She was foreign; German as it happened. I offered to help. Both the receptionist and the German lady seemed visibly relieved.

The lady, let’s call her Gertraud Forster, because that is her name, was staying at the hotel and wanted to extend for three further days. Unfortunately, nay unusually, the hotel was already fully booked and there was no room at the inn.

I offered to help Gertraud find alternative accommodation, but she declined. In the course of the conversation, however, it emerged that, despite being 72 years of age, single and apparently unwell, she was a livestock farmer looking for a finca to buy in the Algunlugar area.

She already had seven stud horses and 15 or so donkeys “in kennels” nearby, so was keen to find somewhere quickly.

I’ve fancied my chances as a corredor (a kind of unofficial estate agent) for a while, so I spotted a possible opportunity to help this very amenable lady out whilst earning a bit of commission on the side.

We exchanged contact details. It was a Friday morning. She rang me several times over the weekend with questions and queries and to confirm that she would like me to find fincas for her to view.

On the Monday, instead of doing what I had planned, I spent most of the morning tracking down the owner of a farm that looked ideal for what Gertraud wanted. We viewed the farm but Gertraud was lukewarm, although she liked the price.

I continued the search for more farms for sale and lined up three more to view, but for various reasons Gertraud declined.

She was staying in a small hotel, which was working out to be expensive, so she asked me if I could find her somewhere to rent for her and her two dogs, also in kennels.

Within 24 hours I’d found her a large house in a nearby village, with outside space, a hot tub, parking and  rear entrance, for just 500€ a month including, electricity, gas and water. She agreed a three-month let with two months rent payable up front, as is normal. I was to get a month’s rent as my finder’s fee, which is also the norm here.

All this was done in a rush, on the phone and via WhatsApp, so no paperwork (B-I-I-IG MISTAKE!). She moved in on Saturday afternoon, but by Tuesday she’d done a “midnight flit”. We haven’t seen hide nor hair of her since.

Via WhatsApp she has promised to pay the house owner 200 € for the time she used the house, which I subsequently learned she has done. She has no intention of paying me my 500€ commission as we had no written contract. She seems to have no concept of “ein Gentleman’s Agreement”, although this has been a bona fide German word since the 1960s (Check Duden, if you don’t believe me!).

I went to the Guardia Civil to do a denuncia. The sergeant explained that they could do nothing because these were civil offences, not penal, and I had no proof of my allegations, ie no paperwork in the form of contracts etc.

Despite this his colleague painfully and very slowly typed up a denuncia (not sure why if they can’t do anything, but, hey, it’s Andalucía!)

All we knew at this point was Gertraud’s first name and we had her mobile number, strangely French!

I started to investigate further. I found out her surname, Forster. Through Spanish contacts it transpires that she has a huge debt with two livestock people locally.

One, who had been looking after her donkeys, is owed 30,000 Euros.

I went to see the owner of the stables where her seven studs are lodged. Juan Jesús told me she has been using his premises as a “kennels” for three years and she has, as yet, not paid him a penique. He reckons the debt is 23,000 Euros. He too has no contract, no paperwork.

What is it with everybody here? Are we all stupid, or gullible?

No we are most definitely not. Traditionally, in this part of Spain deals were often verbal and sealed with a handshake. Even houses were bought and sold on a handshake. People trusted each other. Unfortunately some foreigners have abused that, as these examples show.

So where next with Gertraud Forster? She should be re-named Gertraud Fraudster, in my view, because that is what she seems to be, systematically going round the place, appearing frail and helpless, getting mugs like me to work for her for nothing and not paying her bills. She is a serial engañadora by the evidence before us.

As it stands the law cannot and will not do anything. Until such time as one or more of her victims hires a procurador (solicitor) and a lawyer and goes before a judge, nothing will happen. The problem is none of the “victims” is keen to invest that kind of money with no guarantee of getting anything back.

So, if anyone sees a little old lady driving a grey Nissan X-Trail with a German registration, beginning with the letters ÜB, give me, or the cops, a shout.

With any luck they’ll be able to get her for having an illegal vehicle on the roads here! Like Al Capone and his income tax, she’s bound to have slipped up somewhere.

Me? Good Samaritan? Not any more, mate!

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Monday, November 29, 2021

When The Curmudgeon moved to Andalucía to live a dozen or so years ago, there were just three things he did not like about the place. The andaluz accent, smoking in bars and the beer. Oh, and the bureaucracy …!

Now that he’s been here a while, things have changed. He’s grown accustomed to the locals speaking fast and without consonants; smoking in indoor spaces has been outlawed (also outdoors post-Covid-19); and he’s gradually learning how to cut through all the red tape. But … what about the beer situation? 

No good beer here

Decent beer is about the only thing I miss living here in Spain. The best beer in the world without question, in my view, is a cask-conditioned ale from one of the hundreds of micro-breweries in the UK. Closely followed by German Weizenbiere, Czech lagers like Budweiser Budvar – not the American piss of the same name that is made by Anheuser-Busch – and Belgian beers, if you like fruit in your tipple. 

With few similar alternatives here in Spain, except for expensive imports, Mahou is the least appalling of the branded lagers; Alhambra, Estrella Damm, Amstel and San Miguel are also drinkable. Cruzcampo is the worst of the lot, in my opinion. 

For home drinking I prefer to spend 28c per can for Steinburg (Mercadona), the Aldi own brand Karlsquell or LIDL’s Argus, both at 25c, rather than 50-60c or more for a branded beer. Served very cold you don’t notice the difference. And interestingly all three of those marcas blancas, own-label beers, are brewed by the same company, Font Salem S.L. in Valencia. 

Real ale comes to Spain 

It’s good to know that there are some quasi-real ales being brewed in Spain now. I say quasi, because they really have to be served as keg beers under pressure because of the climate. 

I’ve recently heard of at least three in Andalucía alone. 

First of all there’s the Fábrica de Cerveza Kettal (FCK), located in Los Barrios (Cádiz). A brewpub claiming to produce English-style real ale, the brewers use traditional methods and all natural ingredients. 

FCK claims to be the first micro-brewery in living memory in the province. According to owners Mercedes Lynch and Tim Revill, FCK is part of the revolution against mass-produced products, which is growing throughout the food industry. 

“Consumers are growing aware that many foodstuffs contain all sorts of chemical additives to give them the flavour and appearance that big companies think the average consumer expects. At FCK we use the flavours that nature provides, with no unnatural additives.” 

FCK’s Brewmaster, Australian Jonah Jones, adds: “We brew English-style ales, which are kegged and served chilled and under pressure. CAMRA would not approve, but cask beer just will not survive at this latitude and temperature.” 

So, there we have it – it’s not real ale at all, although, having tried it, I can confirm that it tastes better than anything else on offer down here. 

FCK has a website at 

The Saxon Brewery in Vélez Rubio, Almeria, supplies various bars in Almeria and Murcia with UK style real ale. They don’t have a website but owner Ian Orpe can be contacted at 

La Fábrica in Sevilla is also a brewpub I’d been told about, so, when I happened to be in Sevilla one Sunday in May a few years back, I went to visit. 

We got to the Plaza de las Armas and looked around. No sign of it, so I asked in another bar. 

 La Fábrica? Oh, it shut down about 18 months ago. It’s now called Los Olivos, just over there. 

Disappointed, we went there anyway, as the thermometer was hitting 40 degrees and we were hot and thirsty. It’s just an ordinary bar now, but at least it had Mahou on draft, my favourite of the Spanish lagers. 

My disappointment at the disappearance of one of the few real ale outlets in Andalucía was tempered, however, when I learned the following day on Facebook that Bar Allioli in Jimera de Líbar, further down the Guadiaro river valley from where I live, had launched its own real beer, Allioli Weisse Bier (sic), a German-style wheat beer. 

Brewed by the afore-mentioned FCK brewery I have since tried it and can vouch for its excellence. Bar Allioli has a website at at

Well done, Paul Darwent!

90 cask ales 

Giving the lie to the assertion that the climate here is unsuitable for cask ales, Realbeeria is a distribution company which currently supplies up to 90 UK cask ales to selected outlets in Almeria, Murcia and Alicante provinces. Their website is 

I wonder if there are more real ale developments out there? Do let us know!

Stop Press

In the last few years craft beers, cervezas artesanales, have become all the rage in Spain.

Madrid and Toledo (Castilla La Mancha) boast several local craft breweries. Ronda (Málaga) has a couple, Jaén and Valencia also.

In addition, the big companies like San Miguel/Mahou, Alhambra, Estrella and even the dreaded Cruzcampo (Heineken-owned by the way – enough said) are brewing a variety of styles, including Pale Ale, India Pale Ale, Tostada, Golden, malt-flavoured and even Stout.

My current favourites are El Águila sin filtro (Madrid), El Alcázar (Jaén), Alhambra fermentación lenta (Sevilla), Turia (Valencia) and good old Estrella Galicia. A tercio (33 cl) costs between 1,50€ and 2,50€.

Things are looking up!

Then I was diagnosed as a Type 2 diabetic, so I can no longer drink alcohol!

My doctor conceded that a small beer on special occasions would do me no harm. Well, despite my sometimes curmudgeonly nature, I think every day is special!


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