Wednesday, 27 October 2010

And there will be fire from the sky…

My friend Steve is an arsonist. I’m sure that in a previous life that was how he spent his time. A pyromaniac. I have never seen anyone so keen to use lighter fluid on a bbq. The Steve method of lighting a charcoal bbq is this:

1. Lay a sheet of tin foil in the bottom of the bbq. (good idea this. makes cleaning the bbq much easier)

2. Break up ½ dozen fire lighters.

3. Lay in the charcoal.

4. Add more firelighters.

5. Spray liberally with lighter fluid.

6. light.

7. Spray more lighter fluid.

8. Clutch at face moaning about the fact that you no longer have eyebrows.


It was useful when the kids were younger as they would be round at the pool. They would know when the bbq was lit by the sudden conflagration that would rise to the sky.

We had some good food from Steves bbq, though. We sat outside the house in Spain, full of good food, full of good booze and full of contentment. And now that the winter evenings are here, and the temperature is starting to fall drastically, I miss the summer evenings in Spain. Even though it was only for a couple of weeks. Or maybe because it was only a couple of weeks.



Back to Spain…

There is a game that the Spaniards in Torrevieja play. And I have to learn to play it.

Now, if you remember we went to Spain in the summer and stayed at  our friends house in Torrevieja. You’ve read the blog about that, I know you have. You will also remember that we were frequenting Joses bar, the surly bartender.

Me and Steve like to play a game of cribbage or two, and most days in Spain this is what we would do. After lunch we would take a walk down to Joses and have a couple of cervesas, a plate of tapas and play cards.

Generally, after an hour or so, three or four old Spaniards would turn up, looking like they had stepped off of the set of The Sopranos. You wouldn’t want to upset them, that’s for sure. They would have a coffee and something in a small glass and break out a deck of cards. They then proceeded to play this card game, which we eventually found out was called Mus. After a few days of watching them while we played crib we started to show a more open interest. And they showed a little interest in our game. To be completely honest, neither of us understood much of the rules or what they were saying to us. I would imagine that they were saying something along the lines of “You stupid English will never be able play this game. It is for real men only. Now p*ss off and leave us to real mens pastimes!”SDC10804

They did seem to hold cribbage in some contempt. But in the end we parted as friends with a promise that we would go home and learn to play Mus and return next year to play them at their own game.

Unfortunately this is a strange card game. Devised by the Basques and, like them, devilishly complicated. If you play it one area of the country you play by one set of rules. Play it somewhere else and a different set of rules apply. If it is raining you play with no aces, if it is Tuesday aces are high… Well that is the way it seems.

They have given us a bag of metal discs that are used for betting during the game, so that no money is involved. But I bet when we play them it will be Euros rather than metal discs! I bet they are rubbing their hands in glee at the thought of fleecing a couple of naive Englishmen. They will be living off of that story for months.

But at least Jose started to warm to us and we were almost his best friends by the end of the holiday.

We have bought a deck of the Spanish cards, a strange deck that when you play Mus you remove the jokers, 8s and 9s. The scoring is strange, with Aces and Kings scoring the same while collecting a hand worth 31 is worse than scoring 30. I am bewildered by the whole thing.


I have never tasted lobster. I wouldn’t know what to do with one if it fell on my head. But we all decided that, as we had seen fresh lobster on the fish counter in Carrefoure, we would all like to try it. So Harry and Ann, on their way back from a day trip to somewhere, and their daughter Amy and boyfriend Jeremy, brought back a couple of lobsters. Not quite as fresh as the ones we had already seen, these were dead. All we had to do was chop it up and eat it.

Steve lit the barbeque.


And Sarah and myself laid into a pair of crustaceans. We were drunk. I had to look up on the internet what to cut, what to remove and what to eat. And, to be honest, it really wasn’t worth the effort. Next time I will buy one that has already had its innards removed, cleaned and laid on a plate. No matter what i have to pay for it.

In the next installment: the cycle rides, nicking stones and what happened to Steves eyebrows.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Who killed Cock Robin?

I’m in trouble again. I have not been keeping up my blogging rate and one of the few people who follow me has complained. Sad bugger, obviously has nothing better to do!

I’m at a loss as to what to write today. Summer has gone, winter is knocking at the door and the camping season is over. The tent will have to stay in the cupboard till the spring. All the shops appear to have the Christmas decorations up and Halloween hasn’t been yet! We now have to look forward to the neighbourhood children knocking the door and begging for money with menaces. Another American “tradition” that we have imported and twisted to suit the greedy bastards that we are bringing into the world. They don’t really want to see a carved pumpkin. They don’t want sweets. They want good, hard cash. If they don’t hear the jingle of pound coins or the rustle of a fiver they’ll probably carve your face into a Jack ‘o’lantern. Kids round our way are hard.

Mrs Giant68 has just come in complaining that some of the kids she works with in the school do not know what a sparrow is, or looks like. I find that quite sad. I expect that if there was a video game called “Kill Cock Robin” they would know. I can imagine it now:

“Oi! You feathered b*stards! Which one of you killed Cock Robin?”

“I” said the sparrow “With a f*^%in’ machete! Carved his face right off!”

My kids know what a sparrow looks like, we have a large number living in and around our garden. They know what cows are (mini Giant68 is scared of them!). They’ve seen pigs and sheep. Horses and donkeys. They have been round safari parks and seen more exotic creatures.

They also still like some of the things they learnt as young children. Winnie the Pooh, The Hungry Caterpillar and such things. They had nursery rhymes told to them and stories of Scraggy Rabbit courtesy of a family friend.

When I was little, ok I have never really been little, my grandmother would tell me stories that she had in her head. None of this written down rubbish. I have never been able to remember them, apart from the first few words, and google searches have failed. But, recently, my mum found a copy, that she had written down, of one of these stories. It begins: At number one in Rabbit Row, A crowd of bunnies live, you know. The oldest one was Bobtail bunny…

I have to try and learn this so that I can tell it to my granddaughter when she is a little older. All I need to find now is the one about the tin soldier. I wonder if anyone reading this knows it. Kate?

The important thing is that I think that the children we have should retain their childhood for as long as they can, and we should help them. Even when they are older they should remember the childish things. Myself and Mini giant68 can behave quite childishly at times and it does relieve some of the stress of being an adult.