Friday, 31 August 2012

Globe trotter

At lunch the other day Uncle HerrZeus (how they pronounce Jesus, which is really his name), asked in Spanish what I thought of the whole pig's leg we keep on the sideboard. It was translated back to me and I made some sounds and smiles. He then added, apparently, that he thought English people look at it and see a pig, whereas Spanish just see ham.

He was completely right. I didn't tell him I had named it Harriet but I made some nodding motions to him.

I mostly ignored it when we were in the Madrid house, but right from the moment we arrived at the beach and I realised what was dragging from Javier's arms into the flat, it seemed more life life. I just felt so sorry for it. Bang, bang, bang. Trotter crashes into the lift door, trotter gets stuck on the door frame, the whole thing gets dropped on the floor.

It was worse when we got into the flat and I looked in the kitchen. There on the sideboard was last year's pet, thin and very distressed. Someone call the RSPCA! It looked like we left it with a gang of cats to maul it.

Here is a photo of when we went to the petshop to choose our new pig

I'll spare you a photo of the real thing as we've had it for a month now and it doesn't look well looked after. It puts its trotter in my face every morning as I reach into the muffin cupboard, saying 'Help me help', but alas, I think it's too late.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

I don't give a fig about recycling

At the top of the third page of my paper diary, Bob has written, 'Don't write anymore on Spain or the kids, no one cares."
Oh. Well, attempting to adhere to this I have made three weeks of entries fit into this:
It fulfills three purposes:
1) My sweet kind Spanish family will never be able to understand the reams of bile about Spain due to me writing extra small, upside down above each line, and inserting many superflous "oh"s.
2) Maybe I'll go blind from trying to read back my notes for this blog, and then I can go home as I don't have hospital insurance here.
3) Oh, I am doing my bit for recycling.

The latter is UNLIKE the Spanish. Recycling isn't the latest trend here. Maybe they don't read The Guardian. I also think it is because they prize super-hygiene much higher than the environment and our great great grandchildren's life quality. They use plastic gloves more than I ever remembered to at work, apart from that time with all the bloody sanitary towels. They use them at petrol pumps to handle the nozzle, they use them at the supermarket to pick up their apples. The amount of plastic wrapping they use on vegetables I could use to suffocate myself if the heat doesn't get me first*. They clean the house, even the holiday house, every day with hoover and bleach. Well, obv my Spanish Mum doesn't do it herself, she has a cleaner, but still. They've washed my bedsheets more frequently so far this holiday than I do in a month. I look on askance, unsure whether to help or stare. They look on equally shocked as I eat a peach with the skin left on. "But someone might have touched it".

Well, the only fruit I don't mind laboriously peeling here is a fig. One of the Grannys gave us a large bucketfull at the start of the hol from the tree in their garden. I'm not very good at describing something that I actually like, but you could pick from anyone of these superlatives- they were dreamy/sweet as nectar/the most delicious thing I've ever stuck my face into.

*Please just stuff it into my mouth to stop me moaning about such a nice holiday.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Face like vinegar

Today I survived on 2 hours of sleep thanks to the oppressive heat. It was awful. Worse, was that the sweet family didn't believe it was just lack of sleep that was the problem. They thought they couldn't understand me. At one point I ended up being sat down to have my blood pressure taken at the local pharmacy. I had thought we were going to the beach.
"Esta fantastico". Yes I know, I'm just TIRED.

It was a very upsetting day. When i'm feeling bad I start to interpret things negatively. So, Cristobal forgets to ask me if I want a drink whilst we're go-karting, and i think, "well Ana did buy me some new shoes earlier, and that's quite a lot, so maybe that's the only thing I'm allowed today." Or they don't think that I might want a yoghurt for pudding at lunch, so I think "maybe they hate me." It's ever so confusing.

It's times like this that I really need to stop and cool down with some fresh Gazpacho. C's friend Oscar made it for us. It's got watermelon, cucumber, tomatoes, vinegar, red pepper, salt&pepper, and oil. It really soothed my fretful head.

And the best thing? The name doesn't need interpreting!

Prawn scorn

Warning: I wrote the next 100 posts at the beach when I was a bit too hot. 

Sometimes I think Spain is worse than the French Exchange (and on that, Charlotte Daley and I were locked in the toilet by her penpal, Magali, and the doorknob removed from the outside.)

It's so hot, I don't understand 90% of what goes on, that Euphoria song plays at least twice a day.

I am so fed up of waking up here. You know the precious few moments upon waking in which you don't yet realise where you are? And then, oh yes, it floods back as strong as the sweat down my body, before, during and sometimes even in a shower. Oh yes, it is still too hot to breathe. Oh, and i can hear someone speaking happy Spanish, and I remember that i'm still an awkward mute. I think if I wasn't pleasantish to look at there would be no point for them of me to leave my room. In any case I'd much prefer to carry on lying on my bed playing "whose foot is that?" watching my calf downwards in the mirror. I even got it to look like a hand just now.

But then later we will go in the speedboat, and I suppose that's quite fun. As Bob has written for me in my paper diary: 'Cheer up, you're not Anne Frank.' This is true Bob. I'm sure I could manage to get out of my luxury apartment bedroom and join the family for some breakfast. It is by now midday after all.

And I'm sure I could manage this huge plate of langoustines later on. I might even crack a smile as I hammer into their shells.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Riding off into the sunset

It is nearly midnight, I am back in Madrid, and I am meant to be relaxing before bed as I have started not sleeping well if I don't. I've banned myself from internet before bed as I just get too excited emailing  my darlings! Unfort, worse than this, I'm not even typing up the blog posts I lovingly wrote about five times a day whilst I was at the beach for two weeks without internet.
Instead I have got distracted reading the blog of a certain 'Nev' who was at school with us. He is having an even better time than me on his travels. He has got engaged to a Vietnamese lady after some loving google translate dates. Gosh, I'd better get started. No more letting no language knowledge get in the way of me.

I did a bit of practise talking to Spanish men today. Javier even commented "you talk a lot." I figured this was the way most conversations go.

"We do bike?"
"Ok, you carry mine, and yours"
"My pleasure, my sweet Javier"
"Ok, we jump off this?" (a step).
"Nooooo, you do it wrong. I do it more bueno!"
"You mean better?"
"Yes! You do it wrong. I show you."
He showed me. It looked exactly the same.  
I tried again. 
"Noooooo, that is bad. You bad girl".
I lolled against the wall pretending to watch his superiority. 
"You have to do it like thisssss"
This went on for twenty minutes until I did it right.
"Ok now we ride, I have to go first."

p.s Nev, if you happen to stumble across my blog I promise I'm not really making fun, I wish you well, and I'm sorry about that time that I spoilt your happiness at school, by asking you to go to Morrisons with me at break time when I knew full well that Lara Melting Face Girl wanted to ask you out at that exact time, thus foiling her just to amuse myself.

p.s.s If anyone else wants to follow his exploits:
It's possibly more interesting than mine. 

Saturday, 18 August 2012


One thing I have been unnerved at is how many things the children cheat at:

2)Gran Turismo
3)Card games
4)Swimming races
5)Dodge ball
7)Switching films back into Spanish after five seconds

I think I just forgot what it was like to be a child. I guess they know they can never match me for strength, wit, speed, or patience, so they have to force luck onto their side.

Another surprise I had today was that there was pineapple in the pasta salad! Little twirls of pasta, a creamy sauce, and pineapple! As we have such a big lunch we mostly eat leftovers with chorizo for supper, and unsurprisingly I declined the later go at it. I'd rather go and lick the melted chocolate off the remaining clothes in my bag.

p.s actually i'm cheating now. The food is still an absolute dream, and the children are mostly very sweet. They figured out it was more fun to get me to judge games, than try to claw back dignity in swimming races, so we get along fine with that.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Mary Magdelena

Whoops. I've accidentally become Spanish in a few days.

I came down for breakfast at 11.30am, looked around for my magdelenas and milk, and like a very saintly Spanish child, commenced dunking. I then brushed my teeth. Did you know the Spanish brush their teeth after each meal? Well, you do now. I suppose you have to dig out all that chorizo somehow.

We also then sit around doing nothing until 3/4pm when we might think about some chorizo spaghetti for lunch. Have a brief swim then have some more magdalenas and milk, and perhaps a fatty meat sandwich at six. Another bit of sitting chatting (ok fine I sit there looking bemused as I only know five words), ice coffee this time.

But along with this I think I've put on about three stone. As much as I like to imagine that I look like an Enid Blyton character who spent 2 months convalescing from whooping cough in the fresh air of a dairy farm, i.e. bonny, I think in reality I look like a Spanish Grandma.

I suppose no wonder when I eat magdelenas swimming in milk at least three times a day, and only do a touch of sport with the boys when Ana tells us off for watching too much tv.
The score in our dodge ball games is frequently, Javier and Miguel 100, Frances 3. I think that tells you how little I bother to haulk my body across the pitch..

But, the thing is that my evening sickness is abating, so i'm pretty sure that is what Spanish ladies use these fat reserves for. It all makes sense. How else could you go from 4pm until midnight without eating unless your heart eats up your existing flesh for energy?

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Feeling flan-orn

It is very disconcerting being asked if I want to do something and having to smile and say yes, without knowing what it is. One of the things the children ask is, 'Fransays, do you want to play play?'
Today it turned out to be Gran Turismo.
It unfortunately makes me car sick as they've got a big screen and it's very realistic. A bit of sick actually hit my throat as they sped round Monoco. Chorizo again.

Another problem is the subtleties of meal times. I can never tell when I agree or decline something what the others are going. Sometimes I end up with a starter whilst everyone else has a main, another time everyone waited for me whilst I had a pudding and no one else did. At a very nice restaurant the other day I was determined not to be caught out, so answered just ice cream to the pudding offer. I thought, at least it will be quick if no one else is eating.

Alas, I was delivered an over frozen Feast bar, whilst the others tucked into 'flan, egg custard with a biscuit on top, fruit, and a light cheesecake with jam on top.' If you want to embarass a guest by recreating these meals, the recipes are below:

Actually, just the pictures.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

I spy a vegetable

It is getting a little easier. Today I discovered another few words, a new more effective shower setting on the mysteriously complicated shower, and probably a few more pounds of magdelenas on my body. I then spoilt my ease by accidentally rubbing conditioner all over my skin in the shower instead of shower gel. I'll be as greasy as Laura Corby's favourite dish soon.

We also had some vegetables today. A dish of green beans cooked until they were unrecognisable to me, but still very tasty. I think they had gone past old person soft and out the other side.

Incase you were worried, we still had chorizo. Swimming in a lentil soup.

Ana purees it more than you would normally so that the boys can't spy the vegetables in it, so it was lucky I had my hit earlier.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Piggin' out.

Today I woke up with a M&S Percy pig chewy snout stuck in my hair. I like to sleep wrapped in memories.

Once I had detangled it, I realised I had woken up too early again. The trick is really to sleep till nearly midday. As lunch isn't until about 4pm, and I start thinking I've got ME when meals are served too late for me.

Ana took me shopping to see what food I like. I couldn't believe it when we wondered in to the meat aisle. It was a Laura Corby wet dream. There must have been about 1000 legs of pigs in there. We already have one in our house which Cristobal hacks bits off for our supper.

I was going to take a snap of our one, but then I noticed a security camera in the kitchen beaming down on me and changed my mind.  Odd, I know, but the Spanish seem precious about their food.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

To bidet or not to be

This weekend we spent in a remote village where the family used to holiday years ago. My hotel room was ever so swanky. Like in our house, this also had a bidet. I wondered if this would be the day I would finally get involved but I spent all my time sleeping and pretending to enjoy people talking loudly in Spanish around me.

We didn't have supper until midnight the first night. And then we went to a children's fancy dress party. If I lived in Spain when I'm older it would be my children dragging me still sleeping in my pajamas from the car, when we arrive somewhere at night. Not the other way round.

The experience was very special and I did enjoy it, but as usual I started to feel really ill between lunch and supper. I was never one of those cool spontaneous people, who can eat, sleep, sit in the sun without a care for their head, whenever. I've started to feel fed up of the hot sting of chorizo hitting the back of my throat each evening when I got sick from not eating. As a result I've been keeping a small pharmacy in my bra (sundresses don't have pockets obvs). I find paracetemol, a rennie, a pro plus, and a travel sickness pill wash down nicely with a timely cereal bar. Sort of like backwards bulimia but conducted just as secretly in the toilet, lest I worry my hosts.

One meal we had sort of on time was a village paella (3 pm lunch). The whole village assembled in the square around these old ladies cooking up a cauldron of it. It looked and tasted amazing. Unlike that slimy stuff at Becky Lucas' 18th birthday party that I threw under the table before dashing to Mosh, this was the real deal. It had full crabs, prawns, unidentifiable meat and there was even a tentacle still moving in my dish...

This paella isn't the actual one. I was worried I looked enough of a tourist for giving in and wearing sunglasses, than to swoop in on the old ladies with a camera phone.

Monday, 6 August 2012

p.s yes that is my pool below


Dear diary,

Spain is proving a little more difficult than I imagined. Firstly, when I arrived and I unpacked to change my clothes I realised that a large bar of chocolate had melted over half my clothes, and a full bottle of antiseptic gel over the other. What was it to be? Too clean or too dirty? I plumped for dirty as the antiseptic smells more funny, and went to carry on my day. This proved to be a fitting choice as I soon got to grips with the number one snack of the Spanish.

Magdelenas a.k.a muffins torn into chunks and dropped right in chocolate milk, soaked, and spooned out. It is quite messy. I looked on aghast the first time. They have it for breakfast, after lunch, as a snack about 6 or 7 and often after supper at 11ish.

The family have all been very sweet to me. My NBF is 10 year old Miguel as he can speak some English and is generally my translator. When he is playing Sims I am mute. The 7 year old, Javier speaks streams of Spanish to me. I understood it when he said movie vampido. I'm hoping that means I get to watch the new Twilight.

So far we have played monopoly and watched cartoons. I am enjoying physical comedy more and more. Oh we also went swimming and they tried to improve my backward and forward rolls underwater. They said, "don't worry, you've got two months to learn..."

I think I'm still coughing up chlorine.