Three birds in my bedroom

Ronda viewI can hear the keys on the keyboards tapping by OAP’s who were teenagers in the 1960’s. “Got to read this !!”. The 1960’s, the time when indecisive Hippies mused “Ommmmmm” all day while dancing in muddy fields with flowers in their hair. For the name given to women in those days was “Birds”. Forget it, gentlemen, you won’t be interested in this…..go back to the Women’s Volley Ball on the Olympics !! ( aside: maybe the title of this post IS a New Age cure for my condition? I’ll take my 10% now as I thought of it !!)

In fact, this is for the mystics, omen decypherers, psychic analyists of “what was that all about !”

I slept soundly on the first night in this rented temporary apartment. My two cats curled up fast asleep on top of the bed, cuddling in and warming my legs. Dawn broke. We did not hear the cockerels crowing or the baker’s car horn on his morning delivery through the village. We missed the sun’s awakening as the curtain of darkness gave way to the band of light moving gradually down the mountainside. In a drowsy moment I felt my cats sitting on my thigh. I opened my eyes and, there they were, looking up, heads moving from side to side. For flying around the ceiling light was a House Martin (like a swallow), black swept back wings with a white tummy and red face. Round and round. Then it sped out of the open french doors into the morning sunlight of Spain. The bird made my cats’ day. They never stop meowing about it !

This has happened three times over the 6 weeks I have been here. Maybe I can have a lay in one day !!

Another first day strange occurrence was when I arrived here in the village. A diamond formation of 4 fighter jets flew over the house so low, fast and loud. It never happened again.

Can you tell me what all this means, or shall I just enjoy the memories of the three birds in my bedroom.

Help !! I really need your opinion

Amparo Susanna JudithYes. It’s true, dear readers. I do need advice and your wisdom in this matter. If you have read my previous posts especially on my other blog you would know that I was evicted from my last house and am now living in a temporary apartment. A quick precis : I lived with a lady as a companion for 20 years. She died. The house went to her children. They threw me out through no fault of my own. I moved into rental accomodation 6 weeks ago. I am now in a position to buy an apartment on the Spanish Costa del Sol. I am in a real quandary. Why ?

Should I stay?

Plus side: I have many dear dream friends here in the mountains of Spain who are really caring. Drive me wherever I need to go and give me help if I need it. I know and am respected by most of my Spanish neighbours. I gave my car to my house cleaner as I am too dangerous to drive on my own in the mountains where I have been living for 8 years.

Negative side: Should I rely on the kindness of others for the rest of my life. Shops are well spread out. It is kilometres to the nearest large town.

Should I go ?

Plus side: I want to move to Sabinillas a small Spanish coastal town. All the shops, my bank, lawyer, cafes and restaurants are on level ground and grouped together in a small area. Due to the Spanish housing market slump, house prices have dropped dramatically and it is now a good time for me to buy. I will not need a car.

Negative side: I will miss my friends and neighbours. (They could always visit and use my new apartment as a beach hut )

So, should I stay or should I go. One day I want to stay, the next I want to go. Help !! 

Spanish medical mayhem

Juan and his roses“Yippee !! 15th December 2011. Today, at 65, I am an Old Age Pensioner (OAP). Amongst other benefits I am now entitled to the free Spanish Health Care. Should be easy !!” or  so I thought.

My S1 ( a form obliging Spain to look after me medically. It’s an EU thing !! ) arrived from England with my OAP pension details in December 2011. I went to reception of the medical centre in the “big city” of Cortes de la Frontera to ask where I should go to process my S1. Reception was a room full of 30 waiting “Andaluth” women all shouting and no-one listening, with one receptionist. I eventually found who was last to arrive before me and waited. The pretty receptionist with big….heart… told me that she could initiate the process there and then. Took photocopies of all my docs and S1, gave me a stamped form in lieu of my forthcoming Spanish Health Card. Five months later, no health card. So I returned to reception and went through the same agonising wait. The pretty receptionist with the big….heart….could not find me on the computer. So, she photocopied all my docs and S1 AGAIN and gave me another stamped form. Then I had to go to the doctor in Estacion Cortes de la Frontera for the first time.

The doctor comes twice a week, Tuesdays and Thursdays. On Mondays and Wednesdays at 12 noon one has to go to the Estacion town hall to get a numbered ticket to see the doctor for the following day. So with ticket #8 I saw the doctor who could not find me on his computer. He eventually found me, saying something was wrong, then initiated the process for me to see a specialist at Ronda hospital. A month ago I received two letters from Benaojan medical centre ( where the doctor comes from ).

Let us assume that my name is Adam Baker Charlie DUCK. The first letter contained a warning that I would receive a communication from Ronda hospital and the name on the letter was to Duck Adam Baker CHARLIE. The second letter addressed to Adam Baker Charlie DOCK asked me to go to Benaojan medical center with my passport and European Health Card ( never ever had one ) within 7 days or I will have to pay for treatment, because there was problem with my name. No, who would have guessed !!

I contacted a friend who had been through the correct process, who took me by the hand, bypassing Benaojan and took me to Ronda Social Services. Scattering all my documents over his desk and throwing his hands in the air and shaking his head, the receptionist man reinitiated the process. Photocopied all my documents AGAIN. Neither of us could understand what he was saying, but we thought that all the paperwork went to Malaga and I should receive a communication in 20 days.

In fact I did. My documentation was now at the same point as my friend’s who had started his process of getting a card in May of this year. So, this morning, my friend, his wife and myself entered our local medical centre. After 45 minutes of tutting and grimacing by the male receptionist my two friends are now proud possessors of papers in lieu of their card. It took me 3 minutes to get my piece of paper as he had had practice with my friends. The cards should arrive in the post within a month.

At the same time as my friends were being processed, my friend’s wife had to have a tetanus vaccination. She had pricked her finger on a cactus a few weeks earlier and the finger ballooned. She was immediately given a tetanus shot. It was time for her follow up shot. Marcos Painting House & Nick & SophieShe leant across to the other receptionist and gave her a pile of papers pertaining to being shot again. The other receptionist stood up in amazement, for in amongst her papers was a receipt for a tetanus shot from an animal doctor. It seems that one of their cats had a tetanus shot by a vet and the receptionist thought that the vet had vaccinated my friend’s wife !!!

So the moral of this tale is that if you are coming to live in Spain for the Sun, Sea, Sex and Sangria (I haven’t got passed the Sun stage !) forget it, as it’s Paperwork, Photocopier, Pandemonium and Patience.

Flags and pink dots

flags and pink dotsIt has been just over a week since I plunged into constructing my first ever blog. I was going to ramble on about friends when I had an intense urge to comment on my sidebar flags and world map. It has probably been written about many times before over the years but I would like to add my tuppence worth. I was thinking: are there really people out there reading my written thoughts and experiences or are Microsoft/Google computers generating images of blogs and visits to my blog? Are they doing it just to keep me amused so that I would buy more blogs? But you are real. Friends have contacted me suggesting this and that and networking my sites to other people.

I look at the flags and the pink dots and think of what are these people really like, where are they when they visited my site, who are they really and how did they arrive at my door.?

Two from Canada; a lumberjack and mountie, maybe. A Belgian lace maker. Two Irish tap dancers. A pearl fisherman from the Indian Ocean. And so on. The mind boggles. The imagination flows. But are they like me? Just human, trying to make sense of their place in the world.

You are welcome to make a comment and prove to me that you are real. Are you commenting from a train or your study. I may believe you !!

Opening of Olympics. What a waste !!

River GuadiaroWhy didn’t I go out last night? What a horrendous waste of money and volunteers’  time. I settled down with anticipation to watch the opening of the Olympic Games 2012. It started well with the fields, hill and costume clad volunteers showing England’s green and pleasant land. This is going to be really good, I thought. The rest of the spectacular using the modern template of a disused warehouse, fire, smoke and action deteriorated into clip remakes of old films, off site fill ins and worn out old jokes. The hospital scene was plainly evil followed by a so called celebration of pop music touched up with the loss of a mobile phone.

Millions of pounds sterling spent on trash. This was meant to be the showcase to the world of the best of Britain. There is so much beauty and fun to be found in the world, including Britain. Where was the Irish dance, where was the Welsh choir singing, where was the Scottish games, where was the English beauty of say Chelsea Flower Show?. These are just examples. With real imagination in the design of the show I would have gone to bed last night, not let down, but a happy bunny !!

Horses drinking at the bar

 26th July 2012. “Not again !!” I thought as I was dragged out screaming for another night on the town. The Feria week, last week in July had begun. Five of us toddled into the pueblo (village) collapsing into chairs outside the first bar we met. A couple of horses were drinking at the bar. ” What did they put in my drink last night ” I thought.” Oh, well, we’re in wacky old Spain where anything goes !! “. The wine and beer came. The white wine was so bad that it could be used to clean the toilet. Replaced by red wine, satisfactory to the palette; the kebabs of chicken or shrimps which filled a small hole; we wandered off one way leaving the horses to their annual night out on the town.

Finding another group of Expats and Spaniards in another bar we settled down for an evening of jollity, banter and refreshments. The band struck up a melodious tune straight out of a spaghetti western; drums and brass: slightly off key they played with great vigour. One of the Spanish girls at our table was 8 months pregnant; that’s the problem when one has no television or lights in the house. Feral cats and kittens found quiet spots to curl up and sleep as the band started up again banging and blaring out the same off key tune. The parade came past us. Well, the Civil Defence car with bright orange flashing lights, half a dozen children dressed up as lego men, a float of pretty girls and a very hygienic dumper truck with a blue barrel of sangria dispensed by a young man who looked like he had just got home from a building site. So we sat and chatted as the parade and the following adoring mums and dads disappeared into the distance. Ten minutes later back came the band gleefully crashing out the off key melody which we were sure that we must have heard somewhere before. So, as the last strains of the band disappeared back into the part of the village it came from, I called it a night. Others went on to watch the crowning of the queen, but exhausted and missing my WordPress “Dashboard ” I returned home vowing that tonight I am going to settle down on the settee with my two cats and watch the opening of the Olympics and if anyone emails me this afternoon to drag me out screaming for another night out…….I may go !!

How not to milk a goat

25th July 2012. The night it rained with thunder beyond the mountains. Well, a couple of drops. Not enough to get the soap out, strip off and have a shower.

Out of the blue, that afternoon, I was invited to a friend’s house on the mountainside a few kilometres from here. The evening’s attraction was a local Spanish farmer’s wife demonstrating her art of goat cheese making, combined with a fiesta/party. The night was filled with fine company and fabulous food. I digress. Back to the goat cheese. She heated a bucket of goat’s milk and let it cool to the right temperature. Of course, while the milk cooled a few cans of beer and wine were consumed and the conversation turned to milking goats.

It seems that the Spanish farmer has a relation living in the big city who visited them rarely. One particular visit the farmer was milking his goats and the young male relation walked into the milking shed. Being curious of how the farmer went about milking a goat the young man pleaded to have a go. “Grab a goat and get on with it then, lad” said the farmer turning back to the udder he was milking. Suddenly, there was a hell of a commotion, goats were flying everywhere. Why? Because the young man had tried, successfully, to milk a male goat !!

Back to the goat’s milk, in a bucket. Now at the right temperature. The Spanish farmer’s wife while stirring the milk with a short bamboo stick added a few drops of rennet to initiate the conversion from milk to cheese. “It will take a few minutes for the contents of the bucket to congeal enough for the stick to stand erect, unsupported”. While the contents thickened a few cans of beer and wine were consumed and the conversation turned to making cheese.

It was decided amongst the group that rennet was the natural form of Viagra to keep the stick erect.

Back to a now erect, unsupported stick. The Spanish farmer’s wife stirred the “blancmange” and gradually the curds and whey separated. The liquid was poured off and the solid was squeezed to remove the remaining juices. The “cheese” was then placed on a large board with drainage angled grooves to run off the liquid . She produced a trouser belt of woven hemp and curled it around and around to make a ring, a container,  which she placed onto the grooved board and filled with the “cheese”, pressing it firmly down with her fist to remove the remaining whey. Once the hemp ring was full the Spanish farmer’s wife turned the “belt” over displaying a beautiful pattern of lines on the “cheese”.

“How did she do that !!” exclaimed one of the guests., “I didn’t see her make THAT pattern !!”

So a handsome small cheese was created. Edible in a few days and if needed to be stored for longer, the cheese would be soaked in olive oil.

You learn a lot on my blogs. 😉

I crashed WordPress !!!

Captain's bridgeOn the 21st July 2012 I took the plunge. I decided to construct a website. My amigos on a forum suggested two options and the one I chose was WordPress. Not knowing what I was letting myself in for… into WordPress I dived. Fumbling around my themes and widgets I waded through the brambles of my ignorance in site construction. I chose a theme but it looked wrong to me, so out came my credit card and loads of money later I almost had it right. But not quite. My credit card took a hammering. So, a dot com later I found a “Dashboard”. OMG….what !!!! I wanted the blog to look like a normal website but at the same time fill an area with my ramblings. Oh, I am a fuss pot !!

Not eating properly or stroking my cats; I clicked, scrolled and tut-tutted for hours. Then IT happened…….Sunday night the 22nd of July…..I clicked and crashed WordPress. I take full responsibility. Smack my wrist !! Couldn’t do anything worthwhile for hours. Then I saw sense and peeped into the forums where dozens of members were banging at the closed doors of the WordPress office all shouting, “Fix me, we are getting withdrawal symptoms “. But, the nightwatchman was asleep and no-one was home. I tiptoed out of the forum and went to bed.

Monday the 23rd of July 2012 I warily switched on my laptop, poked my nose around the forum door and people were talking about committing suicide. Suddenly, at lunchtime, shouts of, ” THEY’VE FIXED IT !!! ” resounded throughout the Halls of the Internet.2nd in Command of engineering dashboards

Not shaven or showered for days, I was again drawn under the spell of the “Dashboard”; where I clicked, scrolled and tut-tutted for hours. Eventually Bluefish Way was born.

I still don’t know my tabs from my tags. It’s all magic to me !!  Ralph xx

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