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Showing posts from March, 2009


The signature dish of Ciudad Rodrigo

I lifted this, wholesale, from one of the local websites. Strangely enough we had a set lunch in the place that features in the video yesterday.

When you visit Ciudad Rodrigo it's obligatory that you try the local favourite: fried eggs and farinato. Farinato is a sausage made with breadcrumbs, pork dripping and onion seasoned with salt, pepper, cumin, garlic, anise seeds and an anis brandy. It's eaten with fried eggs making sure you break the yolks and mix up the egg and sausage really well.
This dish is available in nearly all of the bars and restaurants of Ciudad Rodrigo either as a part of the main menu or as a little snack.

And now in the original:

El plato típico de Ciudad Rodrigo
En la visita a Ciudad Rodrigo, es obligado probar el plato típico: los huevos fritos con farinato. El farinato es un embutido elaborado con miga de pan, manteca de cerdo y cebolla, sazonados con sal, pimentón, comino, ajo, anís en grano y aguardiente. Se come con h…

An Unholy Alliance

You may know, from previous posts that I'm not a big fan of the banks, nor am I a fan of insurance companies. It's a bit like those films where the bloke in bandages and the one with a bolt through his neck team up with that other one with the brylcreem and opera cloak. Bad news for we country folk with pitchforks and donkeys.
Anyway, I'd paid for the car insurance with the worm firm on a UK credit card. They got around to paying me the money back today. It took them fewer than 5 minutes to withdraw the cash but some 3 days to return it. In the process I lost nearly £20 in changing the money or about 7% of the total.

Once more unto the breach

I feel really sorry for my bosses, Adel and Gusa, they have been remarkably fair and generous with me and they had put together a cracking little language school here in Ciudad Rodrigo but, in the end, there just weren't enough customers and they have decided to close from the end of this month.
What is terrible news for them is bad news for me too because, once again, I am out of work and without income. Some of my students have asked about continuing with me privately and I'm keen on that idea but, being the person I am, I instantly thought of all the difficulties.
Where could I put classes of up to eight people, certainly not in the spare bedroom at the flat. Then there are the materials, the text books and other resources including things like a whiteboard, tables and chairs - quite basic things.
Adel suggested that one way to get sufficient space would be to move to a bigger flat but as Maggie and I are a bit unsure about our plans after summer that seems a bit excessive. No…

The worm turns

In the post about insuring the car with the worm firm I said that the insurance was nearly sorted. It isn't anymore.
The cover with the new firm was due to start on Friday. They had sent me a policy and the usual gubbins through the post but the insurance was only third party. That was OK, it was what I was expecting because they had said that I could expect a call from a "perito", an insurance assessor, to check that the car was as I described. That being so the insurance could be upgraded to fully comprehensive. 
I was a bit concerned, there are only two days to go before my old insurance lapses and, unless their expert came to see the car I was going to end up with it on the street with only the most basic insurance. So I phoned the worm firm to ask what was happening. After a lot of confused Spanish (on my side) I began to get a little angry. They were no longer going to send a perito to me, I had to take the car to them and the only place they have is in Salamanca, a …


The Spanish news programmes did the usual thing of announcing the exact moment when it became Spring (Friday 20th March at 12.44pm mainland Spanish time) and we proved them right by going to see the cherry blossom in the Sierra de Francia today.

Their logo is like a worm or a caterpillar

Give or take a name change here and a branch closure there I've been with the same bank in the UK for 37 years. I'm sure that if I'd shopped around I could have found a much better bank but they've been fine. We've had our little disagreements but then again who wouldn't in all that time?
When I first insured a car in Spain it was the 30 year old MG. I had trouble finding insurance for it at all. Someone with another old car recommended an English speaking broker in Torrevieja and they insured the car quick as a flash. I've been with that broker ever since even through the change to a modern car. I've always checked their price against other insurers but they've been competitive so I've stuck with them despite some very poor customer service at one point.
They contacted me, the Mini insurance would be 477€ this year. I checked a few online quotes and one, with advertising that really annoys me (it's all lurid yellow and green and involves a sp…

Now I remember

There is a papershop about four metres from our door but the next nearest commercial establishment is a bar, maybe 40 metres away - it's just next to the greengrocers cum butchers.
Anyway I've been in the bar a few times recently for a mid morning coffee. It is not a sophisticated bar, they don't get a lot of foreigners, so my order of Café Americano caused some consternation the first couple of times. Yesterday was maybe the fifth or sixth time I'd been there and the barman/owner said to me "You can't keep coming in here if we don't know your name, I'm Rafa, what's your name?" Sweet eh? 
I went drinking in the Postillion in Paston for four years; they never knew my name, though they knew my drink, and it wasn't until I went in there with a girlfriend who had long blond hair that "I" was ever invited to a lock in.

On time, fatherhood and popcorn

We had the day off today; Father's Day, San José, though, as Maggie reminded me, according to the official version, Joseph's links to fatherhood are pretty tenuous!
We drove down to Guarda, about 80km away, to have a nosey around the new shopping centre. When we'd had enough traipsing around shops we decided we'd go to the pictures. 
It looked like any other multiplex in a shopping centre and the popcorn was, as usual, massively overpriced. Otherwise it was all a bit odd. We had quite some difficulty getting the tickets - language problems - and our watches showed that we were nearly fifty minutes late, though we still had to wait ten minutes for the performance to begin. Best of all, when the film began, it was in English with subtitles rather than being dubbed into Spanish which is what we usually get at the flicks nowadays.
We were in Portugal of course. Unlike the Spanish the Portuguese have never gone in for dubbing their films; no Lisbon accent for Colin Farrell, an…

News of an old friend

Until about this time last year I was the proud owner of a 1977 MGB GT. A combination of tin worm and poverty meant that I had to sell the car. The new owner is called Manuel and, over the year, I have heard bits of news to say that the car has been restored to its former glory.
Manuel phoned yesterday to say the car had failed its ITV, the annual roadworthiness test. Not because of a problem with the brakes, or the steering, or the lights or chassis. It failed because the chassis number plate is riveted to the bodywork and could, potentially, be removed and replaced. He wanted to know if the chassis number were anywhere else on the car.
It struck me as very Spanish that a roadworthy car failed the test for something so bureaucratic, especially considering it has passed the test with the same plate in the same place for four years on the trot here in Spain.
The photo is from a long time ago, in Huntingdon


I call these blogs "Life in ....." because I hope that they are more about the things that happen in the area I live and which involve me rather than being some log of my life. The line is a fine one I know and today I've decided to breach it just because we went to Ávila yesterday which is one of the Provincial Capitals of this region we live in called Castilla y Leon.
Ávila is famous for having a completely intact Mediaeval Wall built just after some Christian King kicked the Moors out of the town back in 1100 and something. They are pretty impressive.

Avoiding the slaughter

Normally, if there is any sort of event going on we're there. Yesterday though it was the Feria de Botijeros. To be honest I'm not quite sure what a Botijero is but from a bit of dictionary surfing it seems to be the people who made and sold the earthenware jugs that were once used to store and cool water.
With a bit of reading between the lines I suspect that Botijeros represent a folk tradition, a cipher for the history of the area; basically the focus of the day was on local crafts and traditions. Fair enough. Unfortunately though the main event wasn't going to be somebody wearing a funny hat, a traditional dress or playing tiddly pom folk music (though they were all there), no the main event was going to be the slaughter of a pig. The traditional "matanza." 
They were going to slaughter the pig and make all those traditional sausages and what not that they make from a pig. Now I am happy to eat bits of pig and I'm not even particularly squeamish about killi…

On official information and local practice

A news item a few days ago - as an anti terrorist measure - all pre pay mobile phones have to be registered to an owner, those still unregistered in November will be cut off. When we bought our phones it was possible just to buy a phone without any paperwork.
I don't agree with this sort of Big Brother measure and it's a complete waste of time in any serious anti terrorist way but as my criminal and terrorist activities are strictly limited I didn't have much option but to do as I'm told.
The Official, Government PowerPoint display, lodged on all the mobile phone operator websites (Imagine that, what fathead decided that it was sensible to provide this sort of information in such a roundabout way?) said that it was possible to register a phone using a National Identity Card, a Passport or a Foreigners Identity Card.
I went to register my phone, I handed over the phone and my passport. The boss woman in the shop leaned over to the underling woman dealing with me and told h…

As regular as clockwork

There have been lots of things going on since I got here and, particularly since the beginning of this year - Kings, San Sebastian, Las Águedas, San Blas, San Anton and, of course, Carnaval. Their organisation is second nature to all the locals. They don't need to be told that this and that happens on such and such a day at this or that place, it's simply their culture, a local tradition. To me, new to the the town, they have all been fascinating events to gawp at.
As I strolled home this evening I noticed this shop window display. A sign that it's First Communion time. 
Spain isn't very Catholic anymore in the sense that far and away the majority of people aren't churchgoers or even believers but it is still incredibly Catholic in its celebrations. Government Ministers continue to be sworn in with their hand on a bible in front of a crucifix, the great majority of holidays and fiestas have some Church link and there is a story of an old communist and his daughter…

San Esteban Monastery

One of the places we took my mum to see in Salamanca yesterday was the Dominican Monastery of San Esteban - Saint Stephen's. It was a lot like most churches and cathedrals - big stone pillars, plenty of marble, cloisters, huge wooden doors - lovely ceiling, where else are we going before lunch? -  but somehow it was quite different. 
It may have been that the monastery was much less dark and forbidding than most churches, maybe it was because it was simpler, though the altar in the main church would have to be the exception that proves the rule, or it may have been because there was a group of people dressed in their sports jackets and pullovers practising a Gregorian chant sitting in the farthest corner of the choir whilst we were there. Really though I think it was simpler than that; it was because there was information to say how different the place was. 
The notices on the walls were droll, even ironic and amusing. There was a little room that had been used as a council chamber …