And so it goes on. Coming up to a year, now. Facebook “Memories” each morning highlight the last of those crowded events we went to back when doing that was normal – a concert, a street party, a packed bar. Last week Facebook reminded me that this time last year I was on a mini-break in Seville, and heard on the Spanish television news that Spain’s first patient with the virus had been admitted to hospital, right there in Seville. I turned off the telly and went out to eat in a cozy bar, shoulder to shoulder with strangers, before going out to photograph the magnificent Plaza de España. Continue reading
188 – Chocolate? With SALT?
Their eyes widened as I tried to explain ‘salted caramel’. A flavour that has long been popular in the UK but is only just arriving in Spain (and being received with a fair degree of scepticism). Lorenzo is a man of few words, and his eyes locked onto mine as I described that touch of salt that cuts through the sweetness. He said nothing, but wagged a finger disapprovingly towards the chocolate petals flavoured with salted caramel that I was offering.Continue reading
187 – Empty Benches in Empty Squares – Lockdown Day Nine
LOCKDOWN DAY TWO:
Monday is the first “normal” day of the lockdown. I go to the surgery for routine blood tests. Everyone is maintaining social distance. Doctors and nurses are wearing masks and gloves. The village is VERY quiet. I use the opportunity to go to a couple of food shops. In the first, they have put tape on the floor to keep people queuing at a good metre’s distance from each other, and that works well. It feels a bit like a board game, when the person at the till leaves the shop we can all move one square forward. In the bakery, a sign prohibits more than one customer at a time, and there is a tray to put the money on. Continue reading
186 – Lockdown in the Pueblo – Day One
It’s just as well that the Spanish prime minister is easy on the eye. Guapo, we say in Spanish. Just as well, as we sit glued to the television watching his almost daily pronouncements. It’s just like those days last year when we couldn’t tear ourselves away from BBC Parliament. Continue reading
185 – The Best-Laid Plans …..
I get to the bar first, bang on time. You can take the woman out of England but you can’t take English punctuality out of the woman. Miguel makes my coffee and disappears into the miniscule kitchen to tip some brown sugar into a tiny espresso cup for me. I roll my eyes at him and he says he’s decided to order some sachets of brown at last. ¡Por fin! I’ve teased him often enough about it.
184 – Nothing has Changed ….?
At Málaga airport they let me through the normal passport queue. A relief. The EU citizens’ queue. My first flight after THAT date. Exit day. The guy at the passport desk said we could continue to use that line all this year, apart from odd days where they would “trial” sending us through the other queue, just to check that it’ll all work smoothly. Landing at Bournemouth nothing had changed, but then it is only a portakabin-style arrivals hall, nothing very high-security. Continue reading
183 – A Toothbrush for Christmas
They were already queuing to get back into the hostel for their lunch when I parked outside on Christmas Eve, risking leaving the car in the “Personas Autorizadas” spaces. The line snaked right to the corner, and you could see in their posture a sort of resignation, an aspect of helplessness. All of them standing, mostly motionless, just waiting, with nothing else to do and nowhere else to be, until the hostel staff open the door to let in the waiting people. Continue reading
182 – Flight to Vote
As I boarded I had a sneaky feeling it was a complete waste of time. No, that’s not fair. It’s always lovely to see friends in Dorset, and I was due a visit. Cabin bag laden with turrón (a cross between fudge and nougat, a Christmas essential in Spain) and packs of Spanish ham and cheese. Continue reading
181 – Has Anyone Got Any Knickers?
Church halls pretty much anywhere in the western world all look remarkably similar. This one was just like the one in Yorkshire I went to in the 1960s as a Brownie, and the one in south London in the 1990s when I hosted fundraising jumble sales, and then in Somerset in the 2010s when I ran charity training courses. This one, though, was in a small Axarquía town in inland Málaga province. Continue reading
180 – Settled?
There was a nurse on my flight home to Málaga. A Spanish nurse, working in a GP surgery in Dorset. British husband, dual-nationality totally bilingual daughter. We’d been chatting in the queue about the newish Ryanair rules requiring us to jam our handbags INSIDE our cabin bags, just for passing through the gate before boarding. ¡Qué pena! What a pain. She was flying to Spain for just a couple of days, to collect her daughter from the Spanish grandparents in Granada province to bring her back for the new school term. Continue reading