Thursday, 24 January 2019


This is the story of a man who knew how much his wife loved city breaks, so he arranged a few days in Seville as a birthday treat. 
The man and his wife packed what they needed into 2 rucksacks and flew off to enjoy some winter sun. 
They enjoyed lots of Spanish food:
Trying stuffed peppers and yucca - like fibrous potato, since you ask!
 They had the best sangria:
 They saw Seville's amazing Gothic Cathedral: 
 Admired the weather vane depicting Faith:

 Paid their respects at the tomb of Christopher Columbus:
 ....and climbed La Giralda - to see the bells and admire the best view of the city:
 This was as close as they wanted to get to the bull ring:

 On their first evening, they watched a Flamenco show and were astounded by the guitarists and the dancers in all their foot stamping, finger clicking, syncopated hand clapping, castanet playing glory:
 They wished they too lived in a climate where you could grow lemons, oranges and grapefruit outside:


On their second day, the man and his wife visited the Royal Alcazar, a Moorish Palace built for King Peter with fountain-filled gardens, ornate arches and 16th century tiles.

 They admired the peacocks in the English garden: 
  .......and enjoyed watching the fish:

 After lunch, they walked to the Parque de Maria Luisa and took a ride in a carriage:
 They enjoyed the street entertainer who did incredible things with a silver orb:
 ...... and they admired the architecture of the Plaza de Espana:
 They reminisced about seeing Carmen as they walked by the Tobacco Factory, now part of Seville's University:
 Ate more incredible food at a surprisingly cheap, Michelin starred restaurant with a huge vegan selection. Sadly, the wife had left her camera back at their hotel!
On their final day, they crossed the river and explored the Triana district, famous for its pottery. Always keen to explore a local market, they were thrilled to find one:

 They crossed the river once more and walked along the bank to the Torre del Oro, a once defensive tower built around 1220:
Exhausted but happy, the man and his wife enjoyed a final lunch of Andalusian chick pea and spinach stew, accompanied by a quinoa and bulgur salad:

 They were serenaded by a guitarist:
The wife made a trip to the bathroom, reminding her husband to keep an eye on their bags. She returned 2 minutes later to see her husband enjoying the winter sunshine, with his eyes closed. She asked him where the bag was, and at that point, their holiday turned into a nightmare.
As it was their last day, they had already checked out of their hotel. The man's bag, which had disappeared, contained his laptop and phone (for he had been doing some work at the hotel in the evenings), their house and car keys, and (more importantly) their passports.
The man and his wife went to the police station to report the theft and were given an official form with reference number which would supposedly allow them to travel home. They found this to be false when, after waiting for two and a half hours at the airport, they were not allowed to board. The form would have allowed them to travel anywhere else in Europe, but as the UK is outside the Schengen Area, they couldn't go home.
An airport official explained that they would have to obtain emergency passports from the Consulate. Sadly, there was no Consulate in Seville, the nearest one was in Malaga a 2 hour train journey away. The unhappy, shocked, shaking pair made their way to the train station, only to be told that the last train to Malaga that day had already left. So, they checked into the nearest hotel and set about applying for emergency passports online. They blessed the male receptionist who kindly took their photos and a photo of the police report, and emailed it to the man who used the hotel computer to attach them to the relevant forms.
The next day, they caught the 8am train to Malaga and located the Consulate. After passing through security,they were shown into a small room. On the wall was a large portrait of the Queen. On seeing this, the wife nearly wept through sheer relief as it was so reassuring. Their emergency passports were ready and waiting, so they thanked everyone profusely, blew a kiss to her Majesty, and took a taxi to Malaga airport where they were able to purchase 2 tickets for a flight home.
On arrival, the wife was so grateful to be home that she nearly emulated the Pope by kissing the tarmac.
The sting in the tail, was that because their car keys had been stolen, they had to leave their car at the airport and drive home (1 1/2 hours away) in a hire car to retrieve a spare key. The AA would only have been able to help 2 days later and it would have cost nearly £300. The following day, they made the return journey to rescue it.
There is an Othello quotation which states that 'The robbed that smiles steals something from the thief'. The couple can't quite bring themselves to smile yet, the experience is all too recent and raw. The wife's initial reaction was to wish a plague on the thief's house. On reflection, however, she feels only pity for them. What sort of person would see a man innocently enjoying the sunshine and think that they had a God-given right to take something of his without a second's thought for the consequences? She feels that their house is probably plague-ridden enough already.

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Happy New Year!

Well hello there! Long time, no see. It's been over a month since my last post and a lot has happened in the intervening time. We've had Christmas, my birthday, New Year. and then E's 21st birthday. I'm all celebrated out. L was home for 2 weeks and E for a month, so it's been lovely. I took E back to Bristol yesterday in time for her exams, which gives me a short interval to clean the house etc. before R and I go away for a few days. In the interest of clearing my camera, here is a summary of our festive season in photo form:

Taking E for lunch at 'The Real Greek' in Bristol when I collected her before Christmas. It was yummy but the portions were huge - next time, we plan to share!
Our Christmas tree. For once, it was the perfect shape - it's almost become a tradition in our house that the tree either has to balloon over the back of the sofa, bulge weirdly on one side, or have a strange, bald section near the top. This year's, however, was the perfect size and conical shape ........ it dropped like a b*****d though, so you take your pick!
 My Christmas Eve cast on: 
 Our festive jigsaw. This one wasn't new; we did it a couple of years ago, but J was here at the time and it was finished before we could blink!
 Our Christmas day walk through Bagnor, ending up at Donnington Castle:
 Hamish toasting himself in front of the stove:
 My birthday picnic. I say that L had 2 weeks off for Christmas - actually, the only day that she had something booked in court was on my birthday. It also happened to be in Hastings (4 hours by train!). I got up early, prepared her a packed lunch and dropped her off at the station. We had decided to celebrate the following day, so E settled down for some revision and R decided we should go for a quick drive in Bridget. We packed a picnic, left E a sandwich and set off for an hour. It wasn't particularly sunny, but it was so lovely to get out and blow away a few cobwebs.
When we arrived home, L phoned. She had got as far as London (and luckily hadn't boarded the Hastings train) when the solicitor called to say that the case had been postponed as the judge was ill. She popped into her flat to drop off some stuff and then came straight home again. We therefore managed to celebrate my birthday on the day itself. There was bowling:
 ...... and a trip to the cinema. I loved this:
Finally, there was an Indian meal and a game of Dungeons and Dragons. Now, I can't remember if I have mentioned this before or not: L is a fan of the old D&D, and a couple of years ago when we went on a sailing holiday, she took along her stuff with the intention of introducing us to the game. The first thing you have to do is 'design' your character. Well, it was after a long day and within minutes R was fast asleep, snoring loudly. E was thoroughly underwhelmed by the idea and only got as far as naming her character 'Boredy McBored Face'. After a couple of hours, I was the only one with a fully formed character, showing even the semblance of enthusiasm. Forward 2 years and we gave it another bash. Admittedly, L and I had to design the characters for R and E, but E did go so far as to give hers an alternative name ..........ladies and gentleman, I give you Paella Toss-cobble! Over a couple of evenings, we got as far as level 2, and I think that may be it until next Christmas!
 Hello deer!
 My baby turned 21:
We celebrated by driving into London with a 3 point plan: lunch at The Gate, go shopping for a watch, and then a trip to the theatre to see Agatha Christie's 'Witness for the Prosecution' in the evening.
The food at The Gate was yummy. It's usually a veggie/vegan restaurant, but to encourage 'Veganuary', the whole menu on her birthday was vegan. I had a selection of wild mushrooms on a risotto cake with a creamy cep sauce and lemon and truffle oil. E had the same.
 Polenta chips and salad, with L's burrito in the background:
 R's aubergine escalope with kale:
  There was a whole selection of vegan puddings to choose from too. Here is R's chocolate bomb:
My hazelnut mille feuille:
... and L and E both chose vegan tiramisu:
E had decided that she would like a watch for her main present. She had looked online and had a vague idea of what she wanted. We walked miles down Oxford and Regent Street and various other parts of London, but nothing grabbed her fancy. It was useful in that it clarified what she did and didn't like, so we called it research and grabbed some supper before the play. Incidentally, I took her into town for a haircut 2 days later and she found a watch she loved at the nearest jewelers to our house! It's an eco-drive analogue watch, solar powered so she doesn't have to worry about changing the battery and it suits her perfectly.

Here are a few of the sights from our great watch hunt of 2019:

This was the play we saw and it was indeed 'criminally good'. It was performed in the County Hall on London's South Bank - think Ken Livingstone and the GLC building! It was worth going for the building alone, both it and the play were glorious. Set in a courtroom, you could pay extra and sit in the jury box. One member of the audience was actually the foreman of the jury and had to stand and deliver the verdict! As we bought last minute tickets - E wasn't sure whether she would be in Bristol or not - we were in the circle, but the view was excellent.
Finally, a trip to see this at our local cinema. Given that Ralph Fiennes was playing Antony, I had high hopes. We were sadly disappointed - E declared it a 'snoozefest' and we had to agree. I thought that Hamlet was supposed to be the longest play, but this gave it a run for its money. The last time I saw this play was in the 80s with Anthony Hopkins playing Antony and Judi Dench as Cleopatra. I remember it being much better. The only redeeming feature was when R pointed out that Fiennes had a way of standing that was reminiscent of Rigsby in 'Rising Damp' (I'm showing my age here!). He stood with hands on hips, nodding his head repeatedly. You could almost hear the cry of 'Miss Jones!'. He did it a lot, and once you'd noticed it it was impossible to take him seriously.
Well, that's all for the moment. I hope you all had the merriest of Christmases and wish you all love, light and peace for 2019.

Toodle pip for now. x