171 – Four Breakfasts and a Barbecue

Another month, another “escapada”.  This time to Cádiz, a city I had overlooked for far too long.  Three nights in probably the best-located Airbnb flat anywhere, with a terrace looking directly onto the tower of the impressive cathedral.  It was the flat of Francesca and Carlos – for me the real benefit of the Airbnb system is being able to stay with locals and get their tips about things to see and places to eat.    Continue reading

157 – Just an Everyday Birthday

Suddenly Paqui began to sing. The room fell silent, and even the aggressive guy in the corner, who had been talking to himself and shouting randomly, looked up and listened quietly as she sang a saeta. It was Mercedes’ birthday and twenty of us gathered to celebrate with her. She received her gifts with gratitude as enormous as her smile, and she closed her eyes tightly to make a wish as she blew out the candles. People laughing and chatting – smiles that could light up the darkest of spaces, the darkest of lives. Paqui finished her song and received applause, shouts of “¡Óle!” and a hug from Mercedes. Continue reading

147 – It’s All About Tongues

Dentists don’t often make me laugh.  Sadly, it’s years since they were allowed to use laughing gas to knock us out before an extraction.  And I’m a really rubbish patient.   But my Spanish dentist is lovely.  Film-star looks, craggy, sexy voice, about the right age …..   COUGH!  Sorry, I wandered off for a moment there!  Anyway, back on topic, he DID make me laugh. Continue reading

142 – Beer and Bocadillos – On the Government!

142-schoolThe course I’m on at Málaga’s Escuela Oficial de Idiomas is heavily subsidised by the Spanish government (thanks guys!).  So when the head of Spanish said we were going on a “school trip” we didn’t expect a great deal, to be honest.  Imagine our delight, then, when it turned out to involve free beer and bocadillos! Continue reading