Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Just another wonderful day in El Tacó

So this was the last sunset of January 2012- How come the first month of the New Year is over already? Where on earth did that one go? It's been a good month -are there really any other sorts to be honest? We've had a couple of festivals and my little bro turned 50. February looks like it'll be a fun month, a little travelling around, Cuddy's 4th Birthday, Carnaval and that's just for starters....

We've just been watching a programme about Monte Carlo, and have both said we'd not swap it for our wonderful lives here.
This evening on the way home one of my ex-students (Agustin who lives opposite) rushed along to  catch up with me and chat as we both walked home. He's recently started catering college, so we have a bit in common, although he's just 17 and I'm not. He's a delightful young man and a pleasure to talk to. The fact that he rushed, arriving by my side almost out of breath, just so he could walk up the hill with me, made my heart swell. That's just the way things are round here- would that happen in Monte Carlo? I seriously doubt it! Life in El Tacó is the BEST.

Not only that I've also received some  wonderful feedback about both my books today.

The Magic: Hah!
But I'm walking with one Mark Tullett and thoroughly enjoying 'The Magic' of it.

There aren't many things that can make me laugh aloud in bed at twelve o'clock at night (or maybe just the one). The image of all those pilgrims bedding down in the 'dormitorio' and 'tuning up' for the night-time symphony had me in stitches!.... Following that guy's tightly-clad buttocks up the mountain... catching the other guy shuffling his deck under the bedclothes (Could Power Animal oracle cards possibly have been 'entre manos'?).

Well done you. I'm loving it. It's readable, approachable and I'm in there re-living it with you. I was tempted to reach out and offer a helping hand to stop you slipping over you shorts in the shower stall.
It's all just so YOU.  I only wish I had more time to be able to read it all in one go, without interruptions.

Now, I hope you're feeling suitably chuffed with yourself. Skip off and nurse that cold, I've got a good book calling me away.

Jane told me she had taken it on holiday with he, but hadn't had much chance to read. Amy her friend asked to take a look at it after finding out it was my work, then when Jane thought she'd get it back Amy said she'd started reading it and was enjoying it so much that Jane would have to wait till she'd finished.  How good is that?

Monday, 30 January 2012


Phew -that's that sorted then!!

A couple of days ago I got a strange text from the bank saying that if there was a problem with my Spanair flights I should contact them. I thought that it was a strange message but thought no more of it.

Today in one of my classes a couple of the students were talking about changing their Spanair flights to Ryanair- I thought no more about it!

This evening I got reply through one of the Camino forum sites about the Primitivo Camino Nick and I are doing in June, so went on the site and saw a different post about Spanair going bust. I immediately went to their website and found out that yup they'd gone down the tubes. Spanair is the airline company with whom I'd booked to fly to Oviedo in June, and then back from Santiago in July.

I flew into action, checked the back statements and fired an e-mail off to our friend and Bank Manager Toni to check about getting the money back, at least I'd paid by credit card. Next I checked to see who was taking over the flights and it appeared to be RyanAir or Vueling.  Not being a great RyanAir fan I went of to the Vueling site and rebooked my flight to Oviedo, only to get a hung page at the end of the process. So I called them to find out the booking had gone through- they sent me an e-mail directly- sorted. The same happened when I tried to book a return flight for Nick and I, so I called them again, but the booking hadn't gone through. They simply confirmed it over the phone and again sent me an e-mail.

So Mr Brennan fear not you are travelling with TITS and we have everything in hand.

And just for a bit of info here's the first stage of the Camino we'll be doing in June:

Sunday, 29 January 2012


Yup I'm back after a week of hardly any PC action at all - As mentioned in the last post on here we had Michael staying last weekend which was a lot of fun. But I ended up the weekend with a cold and lack of energy, then got a sore back so couldn't sit for long here and update- Ahhh I can hear across the world as the sympathy vote increases. Well I'm much better now after having a great back Massage with Sue's Jordi and a touch of acupuncture too.

 So first of all lets reverse wheels a moment to last weekend -a great weekend with Mr Michael, whose flight was completely without incident- remember last year he left his mobile on the flight, and the year before he got the flight times wrong leaving me at the airport three hours early to pick him up, and the year before .... well you get the picture.

 After picking Michael up at the airport we went directly to Sitges and the Montroig café-bar, where Paolo joined us just in time for dinner at the Wok (yes the Wok again, well it is good food and at a reasonable price!)

Saturday morning I was working so we met in the Rambla for a light lunch. After which Michael and I made a trip to Decathlon (a large sports store just on the edge of town) whilst Tony had a siesta. In preparation for this year's Camino I bought a new pair of trainers, which have yet to be broken in.

Saturday evening we went back into town and had dinner at the new Indian restaurant where we bumped into Sue and Jordi who were just leaving, and a student of mine who was eating there with his girlfriends and looked quite embarrassed that I had turned up - Poor lad!
We all chose the menu of the day, and you can see from the pic on the right where Michael is tucking in, that there was plenty for all of us.
After dinner we popped into 'Nostalgic' -a local bar and then dropped in on Jordi (yes another one) at his bar just up the road, before trawling all the way up the hill home.
By Sunday we were all a little jaded, and as Michael didn't surface until lunchtime we had a lazy day in the house, until Michael's flight later that evening.

This week we've done very little, but as I've spent a lot of time lazing on the bed I've had plenty of time for one of my passions- reading, there you go every cloud has a silver lining, and I've managed to get through my first book of the year-  Therapy by David Lodge -a present gifted me a while back by Christine, and it wasn't until the final part that the clue as to why she had thought of me when gifting me the book. 

Friday, 20 January 2012

First guest of 2012

We've been busy bees today cleaning up the flat, and preparing the guest room for our first guest of 2012. In just a few moments we're off to pick up Michael from BCN airport. Hopefully his flight will have been without incident, but quite frankly I quite doubt that. Whenever Michael comes over he always has some sort of drama.
The first time he came he almost missed the flight and ran through the gates skidding into a seat (well almost)
The second time he gave us the wrong timings and I was at the airport in the middle of the day when he actually arrived later that evening.
Last time he came over he lost his mobile on the plane, with all the trauma that causes.
So this time we've our fingers crossed.

Once we've met him we're decamping to Sitges where we will be taking a cocktail in Café Bar Montroig, followed by dinner in the Chinese restaurant. 

Michael is here until late Sunday evening, so it's just a flying visit, but we're bound to pack plenty into the weekend, although most of that will involve eating and drinking in some of our favourite haunts. So if I don't post for a few days please forgive me I am either really busy entertaining (and working -it's my weekend to work) or I'm simply recovering from the weekend.

Thanks again

This morning I had to be up early for an appointment in Barcelona, which meant catching the train at around 08.00am this morning. So I set my alarm for 6.30ish and was up like a lark and out. At first I thought what a palaver, but getting up and seeing the sunrise for the first time in ages was wonderful. Riding the train along the coast seeing the sun stretching it's warming rays across the sea little by little was amazing. As I sat there watching the new day beginning I once again realised how lucky I am to be living where and how I do.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

St Anthony's Day

Today was St Anthony Abbatt's day, and as h is the patron saint of our town we had a day off and a a fiesta. Apparently St Anthony Abbatt was a bit like Saint Francis of Assisi and an animal lover. So for us that mean s that animals are allowed in the church for blessings- no we don't take ours they are truly blessed already!  - and there's a parade around town of horse, donkey, mules etc. some being ridden, some pulling carts and some pulling fine carriages. Even our neighbour has a Shetland pony that he parades around the town with Mrs Next door-neighbour in the back and grand-kids.

Of course we don't just watch the animals around town, although that is part of the enjoyment of the day-we also make a day out of it. Today we met Sue in Beverly Hills for a beer and a  plate of fries. Sue couldn't stay out all day but we did, so our next port of call was 'The Pupot' - one of our favourite bars, and where we had our stag-party before we wed.
Next we stopped of a few doors up the road at the 'Sentit's bar and then had quite a wander up the road. We dropped in on Jordi, just to say hello, as his bar wasn't officially open- him the missus and son were just tucking into their (late) lunch.  Our final stop off was at 'Café-Bar Neus' to see the couple who used to run the bar next door -- Inez and her hubby. Their son works there too now- scarily we remember him as a little lad running round with football -and has just returned from 18 months working in London. Interestingly he didn't speak English with us, he's still as timid as ever!
When we got back Tony hunkered down in bed for a quick siesta whilst I sat on the sofa for a while reading, then I too dozed off cuddled up to Cuddy and R2.
Thanks St Anthony, and Tony for a great day - now we've got to work all the way through to Carnaval next month!!

Sunday, 15 January 2012

A fairly relaxing weekend

Yesterday we had Julie round for lunch and I prepared a delicious lunch feast -Hop on over to Blog N Stuff to see what I cooked and for a tasty dessert recipe, and still all from items in the cupboards. Needless to say we had a great afternoon eating and chatting away.

I've spent some time this weekend catching up on both my sleep and some writing projects, with the wonderful help of Sprout -just as well I've a new desk that has a shelf that pulls out.

Over the weekend I've been rereading 'Winner' and am surprised at the number of small errors still there. Some of them were just capitalisation errors and a few punctuation errors, but some were more obvious, and to be quite frank a little embarrassing that I'd missed them before.
Strangely I really enjoyed reading the story and almost felt like it was the first time I'd  actually read it. It felt really different in book form, as opposed to the computer or A4 sheets I'd read before whilst writing it. I've now revised it on the publishing site and all new copies will be much improved, although I'm sure there will still be some errors.

Sitting at the PC for too long is a bad thing on one hand though as I often end up net-surfing and shopping, and today I was back at my tow favourite on-line shops of Amazon and E-bay. Yup I've spent a few more euros today!!

Thursday, 12 January 2012

A message I need to hear...

This morning whilst walking the dogs I found a tarot card in the street. Just lying there on its own in the middle of the pavement near the bins. SO I kinda thought it must be a message for me, so picked it up and turned it over:

I had no real idea what meaning it could possibly have so when I got back home I surfed the net for a meaning and posted a request on Facebook to see if any of my chums could help with interpreting what it might mean for me.

I then had a meeting with my dear friend (and Spanish Teacher) Victoria. I had approached her a while ago to translate 'The Magic' into Spanish with me. She has now agreed (in principal - she wants to translate a few pages before giving a definite answer to see if she's happy with the task). I have complete confidence in her abilities. I have this afternoon e-mailed her the first half of the book, as it was too big to e-mail all in one go. Victoria was going to start this week and on Saturday we'll chat again.

In the car on the way to Victoria's and back I was pondering the meaning of the card, and then again on the way to school.

So far I've had the following thoughts from kind friends on Facebook:

"The very general meaning indicates withdrawal from the outer world to activate the unconscious mind and also a teacher who will come to help begin the process and show the way.So if you have been pondering something in particular (especially if you have asked for guidance) it may mean that this guidance is on it's way. It feels like it's a confirmation for you, particularly for some thoughts that you were having on the walk. Sounds a bit airy fairy but it's what I got!!!!" CL

"What I got was protect your space and generate your vision:)" PC

"... and I got... time for an inner journey also... interesting.." JC

"what if feel is maybe you need to stay close to your home for a while since it has only been a few months since you have put yourself out there with publishing 2 books.   DW

I've also found a load of stuff on the net. Then on the  way home from school I was pondering it again when my dear guardian spirit asked "When will you learn to trust in yourself, you know the answers". Hmmm just when will I? SO I asked him what he thought. His reply was again "You know. Trust and go with it" So I stopped on a bench and thought for a moment- not for long it was too bloody cold to sit out side so late. When I got back home I looked at the card again. An old man following a light in his lantern, possibly showing others the way, but definitely lighting the darkness, and by the look on his face happy doing what he's doing. Then I looked more closely at his face - grey straggly beard, receding hair, furrowed brow. Yes I see it! I can be a bit of a hermit, I like being in my own company, but like sharing my talents too. Just recently I've been getting messages that I'm on the right track, on my path and I feel this one is telling me pretty much the same. So all the suggestions above fit in well with my own interpretation- I hear it "When will I trust my own intuition? When Will I accept I'm on the right path?" Time to get the message I guess. Look out 2012 this is my year...... 


Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Today international

This morning I had a great meeting with the other editors of 'The Joyful Warrior' -a newsletter some of you are already subscribed too. They are all in Australia, whilst as you well know I'm here in Spain. Thanks to the technology of Skype we were able to talk, and even see each other. It was early(ish) in the morning here and mid-evening there. IT was great to hear and interact across the miles, and sort some stuff out for the newsletter. It was also a bit of a platform for my head to whiz off into space with ideas for future editions and also revived my lazy mind into thoughts about some of my own projects. The website on which all the wonderful information and articles appear is currently in maintenance mode, but once we're fully operational I'll be adding a link and hope you'll all get one over there and subscribe, AND pass the word on. We really want to go GLOBAL and it's with your help we can do this!

After starting the morning with this meeting it was difficult to bet back into 'day-to-day' head-space. My first task was off to D&P's place to feed their cats, then to Lidl for dog food- still living off cupboard stocks means we didn't need anything else.

For lunch I found a few ingredients in the fridge and threw together a tasty soup, while Tone popped out for a baguette. Recipe (for what it is) will be over on the other channel as soon as I can 'GrubNStuff'. I've had some good feedback about the new blog so far, but comments are limited (hint, hint!).

Then I had to get ready for classes - it's been so difficult to get back into the routine since Christmas and today was no exception. However walking to school I was 'talking myself up'- telling myself as  I was going to have fun- and guess what that's just what I did, and as did the students too.

So all in all a pretty great day.

Monday, 9 January 2012

Back to school

Well that wasn't so bad after all.  It was 'back to school' today. My first class was at 4.00pm and I really wasn't looking forward to it. Positive thinking I told myself and hey ho it all turned out nice again! Strangely it seems most of the students weren't looking forward to returning to the grind either , and only 4 turned up, and had they done their homework - Oh no. But we had a good class. That then really set me up o the next one and guess what- yup that went well too. I really don't know why I didn't want to go back as I really enjoy my job -I guess I was just being even more lazy than normal.
Want to know more about the place I pop into know and again:

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Sunday stuff

The trimmings continued her at Casa TulStig today. Xali has had a good brush and both dogs have had their nails clipped. It's a job I really dislike doing as I have cut them too short in the past and caused a 'bloody' mess literally. I know how sore it is when I cut my nails too short so feel really bad when I do the same to them. Today though there has been no blood.

I've also started a bit of a clear out indoors too - Back to school tomorrow so I had to prepare some lessons, so went through some of my old papers and added them to the shredder pile. Paper printed on one side only has been added to the printer tray for recycling adn printing off future works for drafts for proofing etc.

The 'cupboard eating' is going well too -today's lunch being a mixed veg stew from items found lounging at the bottom of the fridge.  Dinner is the remainder of the Lasagna (did you check out the recipe on GrubnStuff?) with rocket salad. To start I made a snacky thing with one of the leftover avocados.

And for today's photo here's a pic of R2, Vinci and Tom watching the day's action from the comfort of the sofa. 

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Cupboard love...

Well that's it -all the Christmas celebrations are at last over- Yesterday was Kings' Day -Twelfth night in the UK, but so much more celebrated here. We had dinner at Denise and Paolo's, who incidentally are off this week for a few days in Bologna (Italy).

As is our wont at this time of year, after all the excesses of the Festive period, is to have a 'cupboard menu' month. For the next couple of weeks I will not be seen in any of the local supermarkets. Our cupboards are well (Over?) stocked and its time we used up some of the things in there. Our plan is to make up our meals for whatever we can find in the cupboards, fridges and freezer. WE will of course  still be buying fresh veggies and the staples such as butter, milk and the such like, but otherwise we'll be inventing and testing our ingenuity in the kitchen. Last year we survived, well actually prospered for about five to six weeks, and still hadn't run out of stock. This 'cupboard cooking' also means that we will be using up all the goodies that we acquired over Christmas -Chocolate, biscuits, cakes and not buying any more till they're gone. As for what we're cooking up tonight, why not pop over to our sister-blog  http://grubnstuff.blogspot.com/ later and check it out. I've a few ideas but without checking the cupboards wont know what the ingredients will be until then.


Yesterday we took on another post Christmas task and gave the garden a bit of a spruce up. Well after the gale force winds of the day before it needed a bit of tidying, and as I found the secateurs I trimmed back our bushes too. (fnaar, fnaar. just for you Nick!!). I don't like doing it too savagely as I worry about hurting and damaging the plants, but yesterday I went for it big-time. I know the plants will grow back, and already it's let a lot of light into the garden.


Writing: Yesterday at dinner Paolo pointed out a couple of typos in 'The Magic'- How can this be possible- It was proofed at least 5 times by four different people, adn still we've missed some. No matter I've made anote of them and will be updating future editions of the book. So if you're reading it and find any more please let me knwo and I can add those into the next edition too. 

Likewise with anyone reading 'Winner'. 

And whilst I'm talking of writing I am currently in early stage planning to translate 'The Magic' into Spanish. It's likely that dear friend Victoria (also my Spanish Teacher) will be working with me on this interesting project.

I have to admit that writing hasn't been going on much this year so far.  I've written a couple of chapters, and am excited by how it's going but a little part of me is holding back worrying that it wont be as easy as last time. All this notwithstanding I shall be getting back into it in the near future, and will be pushing forward in my second novel, which WILL be published sometime before the summer!!

Friday, 6 January 2012


Now that's what I call graffiti! Over the Festive period a marquee is erected in the Sports centres grounds for various parties and concerts during the Christmas and New Year period. Each year the outside walls are 'painted' by local artists. Some of the graffiti that is on the sides isn't that good -the usual round of skulls etc, but this I thought was brilliant.  I hope the artist is encouraged to explore their talent and paint more than graffiti on the side of an impermanent structure.

Today here is another public holiday- Kings day - traditionally the day the three wise men/ kings delivered their presents to the baby Jesus. Here it's another opportunity to give and get presents- boy are Spanish kids spoilt! Yesterday I dropped in at one of the larger shopping centres on the way tothe airport to pick up Sue who was returning from the UK. The place was packed with panicking parents getting those last minute goodies for their kids for today. I was just filling my trolley with cat food and the such like!

As mentioned yesterday I have decided to set up a new 'foody' blog. It is now 'live' and has a couple of entries. take a look and drop me a comment. I want it to have more than entries from me so if you have any foody comments to add or recipes to share bung me an e-mail or add a comment on the site. I'm happy to open it up for other  contributors if you'd like to make regular contributions so here's the site: http://grubnstuff.blogspot.com

Thursday, 5 January 2012

It's been a funny, as in strange, couple of days. There has been good news and bad news, good stuff and not so good stuff going on.

Firstly I've had a couple of days not feeling myself- (uh-hum) -well I was a bit off colour- just one of those things that happens from  time to time.  It's usually just a matter of waiting it out and getting on with things as best as I can, and Today I'm feeling much better.

Then we had some bad news from the UK -Sad but not insurmountable. Our love goes back in buckets to the Tullett's in Sussex.

Here we've been doing those New Year things like taking down the deckies, and I have at last put up the new 'cat gym' which they are thrilled about. They have been running around like kittens up and down the passage bouncing on the gym and then off again. The old one is in the garden for the time being and they're enjoying playing on that as it's out there too.

Yesterday we were back at Julie's for lunch. For someone who claimed not to be able to cook just a little while back she's keeping us happy with her lunches. We had onion soup, followed by home made spinach cannelloni, then pears in chocolate sauce.  Her cats were out and about too, which was nice, as they usually hide under the sofa. Well Dominic and Denzel do, but Doris who is fearless- she really is a grumpy guard-cat was there to keep an eye on us. Fortunately Julie has had her claws removed- originally so she didn't harm herself- so when she attacks it's not quite so serious as it sounds!

The Motivational Magic -Oracle Card Journey is going well- I really enjoy taking part in them- they allow great insight and the groups taking part are always so supportive and wise.

Today a box of books arrived for onward delivery -I've a few orders for signed copies of 'Winner', so am handling that at the moment, and the sales of  'The Magic' are still ongoing, which now has some ratings and reviews on the site which has raised its ranking and thus its profile. I'm also considering a Spanish language version of 'The Magic' too, as may of the people we met on the walk are native to Spain, or can speak Spanish, and some people have asked me if there would be a Spanish version.

If you checked in here to find a daily recipe- sorry for disappointing, but hold fast it will all be sorted soon. What I'm planning on doing is setting up a specific 'Foody' blog so anyone who just wants the food stuff can go directly there and won't have to read through all my ramblings, and visa versa.  As Tomorrow is  Public Holiday here I'm hoping to set that up tomorrow.  It will have recipes, and all things food related- links, restaurant suggestions (around the world if I can get you lot to contribute) and any other sort of foody types of nonsense I can come up with. So watch this space to the new blogspot address.

Monday, 2 January 2012

Play day is today day

Today we've been all about enjoying ourselves. I've walked the dogs, whilst singing carols. I've played Scrabble on facebook, I've played other silly games. We've been sitting in the sunshine on the roof. I've 'messaged' on the PC- and laughed out loud at my poor typing (thank goodness for auto-correct!). I've been reading my books. We've siesta'd and...

I've just been playing with the cats with one of their new toys - today has been designated a 'play day'.

And here are Sprout and Tommy watching the toy ready to pounce.

Now we're off to Sitges for dinner - neither of us want to cook and Tony wants a burger.  No cooking, no washing up.
Fear not - normal (??!!??) service will be resumed later.....

A recipe for the day

After a few request for some veggie recipes I am going to try and post one every other day or so. So for starters here's one for starters. Let me know if you try it out, and how it went, or if you've suggestions on improvements etc etc etc

Leek and Potato Soup

2 leeks washed and cleaned
2 large potatoes
2 tablespoons of butter

a glug of olive oil 
1 veggie stock cube
1 bay leaf

1 clove of garlic (crushed) or garlic salt (optional)
1 pint water (approx)

splosh of milk or cream
Salt and pepper


1.  Having washed the leeks slice them lengthwise into 4 then chop into smaller pieces across the width.
2. Wash the potatoes and chop into small (no large than 1cm) rough diced- I don't peel them (you can if you prefer)
3. Put a tablespoon of butter and glug of olive oil into a saucepan. Heat and allow the butter to melt.
4. When the butter has melted add the leeks and stir until they are softened.
5. Add the potatoes, stir in and cook for a few minutes only.
6. Add the garlic if using, and the stock cube (crumbled). Stir again.
7. Add the water and leave to boil for about 8-10 minutes.
8. When the potato is soft you can crush it against the die of the pan to break up the cubes.
9. Remove the Bay leaf and add salt and pepper to taste (I don't add salt I find the stock cubes usually have plenty already, but I do like a lot of pepper)
10. At this point you can liquidise the mixture,or leave as a chunky soup (I prefer chunky)
11. If leaving the soup chunky crush more of the potato against the sides of the pan (This thickens the soup).
12. Whilst doing this (or as you liquidise) add a small glug of milk and the other tablespoon of butter, adjusting the seasoning to your taste.

You can serve this piping hot or chilled.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Hello 2012

Well here we all are in 2012.

We had our usual double celebration last night. First one at 12.00 midnight Spanish time when we gobbled down the grapes with each of the bongs of twelve, as tradition dictates. I then went outside and shouted at the top of my voice a welcome to the New Year and told it to 'Bring it on, I am ready'. I have a good feeling about the year - I have started it with an 'Oracle Card Journey' as headed by Michelle from OZ again.  Already it's stirring up the energy and firing up my mind.

I've made a few plans for the year, and have already set some in motion. 2011 was a great year at Casa TulStig with more challenges achieved. 2012 is going to be just as good, or dare I say better.

Happy New Year everyone - Happy 2012.