Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Movement ....

Are you missing your daily dose of 'TulStig International' info and updates? 

Check out the new home of our blog at - I am currently testing out this site for my blog, and for the time being all posts will be here!

and for more details about Casa TulStig News in general check out our whole site Tulstig Espana at Wix  

Thanks for your continued support,


Sunday, 13 July 2014

End of an Era

What a busy couple of days!

Friday morning I caught the new overground line from Brockley to east London. About 15 minutes to Canary Wharf. I can now see why property prices in Brockley are rocketing.

First stop was our solicitors,  after getting a bit of advice from Adam, to ask him to get his finger out and get things moving. Then Andrea and I had a leisurely morning's shopping in Westfield. 

Back to Brockley where Donna soon arrived, followed by Jane and Amy.  After a bit of domestic shopping we went back into town to meet Sally at London Bridge, where we wandered rounds to the Hays Galleria for a drink and bite to eat. 

Catching the train back to Brockley we dropped off in the local, the Brockley Barge,  where there was a cider festival ongoing.  A pint each lead to Chinese chips and curry sauce before we eventually got back to the flat. 

Another tiring day over. .. With another to go....

We started the day off on Saturday back down the Barge for a cooked breakfast to set us up for the day. 

Around 2 our prospective buyers popped in to say hello. Then within no time more people had arrived and the party was in full swing.

Everyone kindly brought a heap of food and plenty to drink too,  most of which went during the course of the afternoon and evening,  with the bits that were left going back to Smalldole to stock Jane's cupboards.

It was great reminiscing again and catching up with a load of good friends as a final farewell to our one time home. 

It's now Sunday afternoon and I'm back in Smalldole at Jane's and Andrew's feeling my age and the strain of the lady few days;  both physically and emotionally.  Find me a quiet darkened room someone I really need some peace. 

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Flat out

I arrived at our old flat later on Wednesday afternoon after a lovely time in Brighton with Irene and her family. 

To say I was disappointed with the condition of the place is an understatement.  It was filthy and definitely in need of TLC. So I went straight to the local supermarket and bought some cleaning stuff and have it a quick lick and a spit.  In no time it was looking much better, but still needs a lot of work.

Strangely finding the flat in such a pre state of repair means I am happier to let go.  I was worried I would be over-emotional but so far so good.  There are loads of memories but they aren't in the flat they are fixed firmly in my head. 

This morning I walked round to Lewisham to do a bit of shopping.  Along with the many changes there are many things that have stayed the same.

Lewisham isn't the most amazing place on Earth but it had what I needed today.  And that included breakfast in the Weatherspoons pub. A veggie all day brunch which was pretty much closer to perfect.

This afternoon I have been entertained by some of my loveliest and most caring friends.  Caroline arrived first in the pouring rain and we laughed about how happy we'll both be to return to our Spainand how poor some of our English has become.

Next Rita arrived.  This was our first meeting. We are both researching our family trees and have a cousin connection somewhere along the line. We've chatted online many a time but now have finally meet.

Finally Freda and Adrian arrived laden down with food for our lunch.  We reminisced about all the wonderful parties we've had here and I have to admit to a lump in my throat and a tear close by especially when Xali's name came into the mix, but I handled it, and kept my composure.  

It's been a brilliant day all in all for which I can thank my wonderful friends.  And tomorrow I start again. ....

Tuesday, 8 July 2014


SO.... Back from another Camino on Saturday afternoon,  a couple of days to sort things here and now in a couple of hours I'm off to the UK on another big project. We have decided it's time to sell our flat in Brockley, and I'm off to clear the place ready for the sale.

I am full of mixed emotions about letting go of our one time home. We lived there for twenty or so amazing years and the memories are super-strong. It was our first home together where we raised our first kids, and said goodbye to some of them. It may only be bricks and mortar at the end of the day, but I know as I start to throw out and clean up I will be feeling full of so much emotion as the memories pour through. 

After ten years of not having lived there I had thought that when the day came to let go it would be relatively easy, but those darned butterflies bouncing round in my tummy are a warning of what I am about to go through.  

I know I'll get through it okay, especially with so many friends popping in to help with the process, either with rubber gloves and dusters, or grub and Cava, but I know there'll be tears amid the smiles. 

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Going away

For the next few days I will be 'out of the office' -if I haven't mentioned it before I am off on another Camino. 

So if you're interested in following what I'm up to for the next week or so pop on over to 

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Kindness abounds

Aren't people kind?!

Selling our flat in London is proving to be as stressful as we thought it would be, but people are rallying round to help out where and when they can. If you read yesterday's post you'll know that i am kinda prone to worry. 

First of all our solicitor asked for proof of identification.  We needed to get copies of our passports certified by a lawyer. Ho hum, I thought (Stress level up a point) how to do this is Spain, as any documentation would be all in Spanish (of course).  I then remembered that one of our co-allotment friends is a Scottish Lawyer. I sent her a message asking if she could oblige, at normal rates of course. She has said of course, and at no charge as a Horta buddy (Horta is Catalan for allotment).

Then a few minutes ago I received an email from our tenant asking if I would like him to leave the phone and internet connected until after my visit, again no charge. He has been a model tenant, and good friend now, and is happy to help out even though we are kicking him out. 

And after my invitation for anyone around to drop in on the Saturday I am in London for a farewell to London party I have had many offers of help with the clearing, including an offer to bring round lunch one of the day I am there and another offer of picking me up and dropping me off around town as I need it. 

I am truly lucky to have such kind and thoughtful friends.  Thank you to you all. 

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Que Sera sera ....

Today I have mostly been worrying (see my Camino Blog for more details) - I know it does no good, but it's the way I'm built. 

I know worrying serves no purpose and just takes time from the present, and I am constantly trying to modify this useless behaviour, but more often than not I slip back into 'worry mode'. 

I have a mantra which usually helps - 'What will be will be' - I know a bit 'Doris Day', but there's nothing wrong with that. Today that mantra has been repeated over and over, and I am now in a place where I can relax. Stroking Cuddy and the cats always helps too.

I think my worrying in general comes from a place of frustration, a place where I cannot control or even have any effect on what's going on. I am not a complete control freak, but really dislike it when something may happen that I cannot influence to the better. But for now I am giving it over to the universe to manage for me. after all 'What will be will be'!! 

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

The Good Life

This morning I spent over three hours digging, weeding and generally busying around, up the allotment. 

Whether it's the hard work of digging, and believe me it's tough as the soil is so dry and hard  in most parts, whether it's being in the peace and quiet of the allotment, or whether it's seeing things growing and hearing the bees and insects buzzing around on their daily chores, but I always feel buoyed up. This morning I was joined by Paul, Jen and the lads for while, as we all mucked in. 

Coming home I raided our tomato plants for a nutritious lunch. I also grabbed some of the basil that we've growing by the back door, and a couple of onions recently plundered from the allotment: 

Cream of Tomato & basil soup, with white beans.

Oh, it's the good life.... (remember Tom and Barbara?)

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Moving on ...

It had been feeling like the sale of our flat in London is taking forever, especially as most of it is being done by internet, meaning we end up waiting for replies -why don't people treat e-mail like the immediate communication it is? 

First of all the landlord's agents (it's a leasehold property) didn't pass on an e-mail I'd sent, claiming I hadn't given the information, until I resent the original copy with date stamp clearly showing a month before with all the information they had requested.

So over the past couple of days I was a little extra-proactive and today e.mails bounced back in from all parties concerned - Result. 

First of fall one from our solicitor letting us know that he had at last heard from the landlord's solicitors re the lease extension and requesting money, which was duly transferred- gotta love the rapidity of the internet. So that's all moving on.

Then an e-mail arrived from our tenant in reply to mine about my arrival in the UK in July to clear the flat. all sorted, and hopefully we'll meet up in July for a drink. I have to admit to feeling a little sorry about asking him to move on, but he seems quite okay with it all. 

And finally one from our prospective buyer confirming he has his mortgage all ready and is simply waiting for us to be ready to exchange contracts as soon as we're ready. Moving along nicely then.  

Hopefully everything will now rush along over the next few weeks ... watch this space for more updates... 

Monday, 16 June 2014

Holidays - Day one

No lie in for me today - been quite a busy one! 

  • First of all down to the ambulatori for more blood tests. All over quickly, but left bruised
  • TO post office - letters to the UK.
  • Dropped books off at school and picked up final pay.
  • To the Bank to pay in cheques
  • Viewed another flat, which I really liked, but someone else is viewing it tomorrow and is likely to pay the 'reserva' straight away. I refuse to be rushed into any decision, especially with Brockley still going through.
  • To the florists to pick up some 'cat-grass'
  • lunch
  • bit of reading and sunbathing in the garden.
  • Appointment at the Agencia Tributaria - rebate of tax agreed, and I didn't have to do anything.

  • Home for dinner.
Phew - I think tomorrow will be a bit quieter....

Sunday, 15 June 2014

It's all over...

... the school year for me that is.  I had my last class on Friday, to which only one student turned up, picked up her certificate and left, leaving me to go home early - the first tiem ever this has happened. Bit of a result, methinks. 

Then last night we had our annual 'End of year' party. This year it was held in the  'Sindicat del Vi' bar and restaurant. 

Tony and Karen

Tony and I arrived slightly early (well actually dead on time) to find June waiting on the doorstep too. We were delivering the puddings for the night's festivities, made by yours truly: Lemon Meringue, Raspberry Cheesecake and Tiramisu. 

June hacks away at the puddings

 The entertainment was provided by various staff members, all talented musicians, accompanying Roger (one of the Jefes). or playing solo. all were brilliant. Made me think about picking up the guitar again 

Roger & Bill

The food was good enough -I know, I know, I'm far too damned fussy (well I like my own cooking so much) - veggie croquettes of mushrooms and mozzarella and basil salad being the main fare for us. And of course the desserts sublime, not that I had any, but had some complimentary reviews from the other teachers. 

Mozzarella, basil & rocket salad

And there was an additional celebration for Liam, whose birthday is during the holidays , when he will hit the big 4 oh! 

So that's me unemployed again, for at least the summer, just the way I like it. Now I have plenty of time for me and doing those things I love. 

Friday, 13 June 2014

Today I have mostly ...

... been baking. 

Having been asked to prepare a few puds for tomorrow's Supernova end of year staff party I've been doing a little preparatory cooking, preparation etc. 

First of all I've made a tiramisu ... which will be topped off with chocolate before delivering

Then I've thrown together a raspberry cheesecake, which is languishing in the fridge. In the heat of the day (currently 28º) it'd melt in no time.

Additionally I have prebaked the base of a lemon meringue pie which I will make tomorrow, and also cooked up a few sausage rolls for my students this afternoon, as I just have two classes left before I'm on holiday (unemployed), and I really like my students to get a taste of England. 

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Allotment update

Yesterday and this morning I spent a couple of hours  each day up the Lottie, watering and doing a bit of this and that. 

Most of the plants are suffering from lack of water so I made sure that they have all had a very good drink for the last couple of days, and will be doing the same tomorrow. The gooseberry bush we have in the garden at home is watered every other day and is thriving. The ones planted the same time at the allotment, clearly have not had such a good deal: 

I love messing about  'on the land'. watering, weeding, trimming the plants - all these so called chores I find quite therapeutic. Fortunately our lottie is in a fairly quiet space, so the sounds tend to be the birds, especially the chickens  of neighbouring allotments, and the buzz of insects going about their job of pollinating the plants. 

So I'm getting away from the hustle and bustle of life in VnG and also getting sun and a bit of a workout before I set off on the Camino later this month. 

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Bloomin luverly

As the school year draws to an end (hurrah) I am finding more time to do those things I love. So today, besides preparing camino stuff (- see the other blog),  I've been pottering around the garden: 

Cherry tomatoes, Sage, sunflowers, lobellia and a couple of the family. 

Nuff said. 

Monday, 9 June 2014

Stationery or Stationary

I love paper, pens and all things stationery but get really frustrated when things appear stationary. 

Today I have spent the morning phoning and e-mailing various people. My prime motivation being I need to sort out the dates for our Camino and hopefully tie this in with a trip back to the UK to clear the remainder of our possessions from the flat.

  • Firstly I have been communicating to the best of my ability about the sale of our flat in Brockley. Solicitors, Landlords, and Management company  My paper trail was deficient so couldn't provide all the information I wanted to, but think I have managed to dislodge the blockage that had slowed things and look forward to everything speeding up now. 
  • Then I tried to change a hospital appointment to fit in with the point above, but the next available one wasn't until late September, and I really don't want to wait that long. 
  • Finally I have been 'chatting' to my prospective mobile phone operator to ensure that I do not lose service as part of the changeover. They have promised it will all be smooth, and all I have to do is go to the post office on Thursday to pick up my new sim card....
So after all this I am a few steps forward and am now net-surfing to finally arrange the dates for our Camino, after which I will go directly to the UK. As always watch this space... 

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Back on track

Look what I saw today as I walked the coastal path from Vilanova to Sitges.


For quite a while now I've not been my usual positive self. I can put this down to a few things:
  • A difficult break up with someone who I considered to be my best friend -none of my doing - my friendship just wasn't good enough apparently. 
  • A recently diagnosed problem with my kidneys which caused me to feel over-fatigued, but that (at least for the time being) is improved.
  • and of course the loss of our little man, Xali, in December. 
but in the last couple of days I've started to plan a Camino for Janey and me to do (check out my Camino Blog for updates), and this morning I got my act together and set out for a walk along the coast. Walking in nature always raises my spirits and energy - 'why didn't I do it before then?' I ask myself, and seeing the letters J -O -Y written in the sand as I arrived in Sitges just about topped off my up-beat feelings. 

At last I feel I'm back on track. Energy levels back up, Spirit soaring, who knows I may even write a little something as well..... 

Friday, 23 May 2014

Garden Therapy

For the past few weeks I've been lacking energy due to a lack of potassium. BY a variety of tests and changes in medication this has been found to be due to one of my blood pressure pills (Enalapril - just in case anyone else is on it and suffering similar). This has in turn damaged my kidneys, and I'm currently getting checked out for that- especially because of the family history. But enough of that ... 

Today I woke feeling more energised than normal so set off to the garden centre to get a few plants to add to our patio and garden here. Following that little trip I spent most of the morning tidying and repotting and potting on etc. Our garden is now almost awash with colour, and as they settle in will start to give us feasts for both sight and smell, and even taste as I've added a few herbs to the mix. Prizes to anyone who can name the ones pictured below.... 

Anyway the upshot is I still feel good for getting out here, however I am now ready for a short siesta before setting out for work this afternoon :-) 

Thursday, 22 May 2014


Today would have been Xali's 15th birthday, and we still deeply miss him. 

He was an amazing character and a wonderful companion. I've tried not to be sad and miss him today so we are celebrating the time he spent with us. Fourteen-plus great years - From Battersea to Barcelona. 

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Whirlwind weekend

This weekend just gone, from which I am just recovered, I made a flying trip to London (in both senses of the word. 

Sometime back my dearest and most amazing friend Andrea sent me an invite to her 50th birthday party, with a message saying that she knew it would probably prove too difficult for me to make it but wanted to send me an invite anyway.  Hmm I thought I wonder.

first of all I worked out that it would be my weekend off - score one. Then I checked the flights- reasonable price considering the late booking. Then I contacted Carla and Nick to see if they would kindly have a bed for the night. They did. I went ahead and booked the ticket and my plan was laid.

A little while later I contacted Adam, Andrea's husband to let him know I'd be coming but to keep it secret. I wanted it to be a surprise. 

Her birthday was on the Wednesday (the day ewe arrived in VnG just 10 years earlier, on her 40th birthday, which we missed :-( 

So last Saturday I went off to BCN airport, taxi supplied by an ex-student of mine my dear friend, Irene, Sitting in the cafe at Terminal Two I received a WhatsApp message from Andrea asking what I was up to. 'Just sitting having a coffee' was my reply. we then chatted about the food she was preparing for the party the next day. I cheekily asked her to save me some. She then sent a picture of her dog saying something like: 'This is what Sooty is doing at the moment'. I trawled  through the photos on my phone and found a recent one of Cuddy and sent that saying the same. 

The flight over was otherwise uneventful and Nick met me at Luton. Back at Carla and Nick's I  met the twins for the first time, and caught up with Frankie.

Nick and I spent the night watching a film and enjoying a takeaway curry, while Carla was out babysitting at a friend's place.  The film was 'Connie and Carla' and despite a slow start was really funny. 

On Sunday morning we went into Loughton to shop and take Frankie to the park. On our return I made a pasta bolognaise for lunch - Carla wanted a simple veggie recipe she could use. 

Then it was time to party. Nick dropped me off at Andrea's and i was met at the door by Adam, who led me through to the garden where Andrea was sitting chatting. As we approached her he told her that someone had arrived who she might know. Looking round she spotted me and her mouth literally fell open. She rushed across and we hugged through happy tears. During the rest of the afternoon I met some more of her friends and family and every time we chatted she retold me that she couldn't believe I was there! - Mission accomplished. We even had time for a good catch up on each others news.

Later on in the evening, my personal chauffeur, Nick, picked me up again. Amn't I lucky to have such amazing friends. Not only do they give me accommodation, but also ferry me around whilst I'm staying. 

As it was Nick's birthday yesterday I had bought a little cake when we were out shopping that morning to which Carla added a candle and we sang happy birthday to him too. 

The following morning at a completely ungodly hour Nick dropped me back at Luton where after a bit of a wait I caught the flight home. despite having two school trips on board (surrounding me) the trip was pleasant enough. 

Back home I showered and changed and set off to school almost without time for a breath, Slightly (very) knacked but it was all so worth it for the look on Andrea's face when she turned and saw me -a look I'll have in my memory banks forever! 

So huge thanks to everyone who made it possible - Irene for dropping me at BCN, Carla and Nick for looking after me during my stay, and Andrea, Adam et al for a great party. 

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Ten Years on

On the fourteenth of May 2004 we arrived in Vilanova to start a new life. The plan was to give it a year and see how it went. Three months in and we knew we had found a new all-time home. 

We left our home in Brockley late on the previous day to drive the thousand or so miles in our 'Bertie' Berlingo. The boot was stuffed to brimming with our personal effects and on the backseat beside Tony were Sammy and Spike (our cats) in carry cases and on his lap Xali. I was assisted with the driving by Martin, our friend from back in those days. 

On arrival we were expecting a new kitchen to be ready for use. Instead we found our builder still in situ, kitchen half finished and our bedding used as dust sheets. After a long drive I was none too happy. But it wasn't long before we had the place in ship shape, the builder dispatched and life running to our new schedule. The cats loved the sunshine, and Xali enjoyed everything life had to offer, as did we. 

During the last ten years our family has changed considerably. Sadly none of the animals that left London with us are still around, but we have a whole new crazy four-legged family. 

We have both aged a bit, well ten years to be exact, Tony hit the big six-Oh and I hit the big five-Oh, but despite the addition of the years we've both prospered. We've had a fantastic number of visitors to our little town, with which we are enamoured, and expect more this year. I've walked well over two thousand miles on the various Caminos over the last few years, many of these with Janey, and have had some success with my new found talent of writing.  

We are now in the process of selling up in Brockley and doing a few bits to the flat here.

Ten years on and life is still good, no life is better than good. We both enjoy pretty good health and a social and working life that we enjoy as fully as possible. "Was it a good move?"  we have been asked over the years to which our answer, without having to consider for a moment, is  a resounding  'YES'. 

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Recognition and Equality

Today our marriage of just over 6 years is finally recognised in the country of our births. Now this might not seem like a big thing to some people but when you have spent so much of your life trying to justify your existence just because of who you are it's a big deal, I can tell you! 

Tony and I met back in 1982 (September the 14th) to be precise, when being gay was still not widely accepted. We had fewer rights and were far from equal. I remember far too clearly being spat at in the street in which we lived simply because I was a 'fu**ing poof'. One night whilst leaving a bar on our way to the tube station a group of 'lads' (read cowards) pelted us with bricks- we were lucky not to be hurt. 

Throughout my  life I have put up with discrimination, some of it so slight it should hardly matter, but it does. For instance at one point I was told that my partner/boyfriend could not get similar benefits as a partner in a married couple as it wasn't a 'real' relationship. Yes those words were really used. 

Over thirty one year ago we I was told our relationship wouldn't last yet we're still here and as strong as ever. just over 6 years ago (on our 25th anniversary) we married here in Spain, where same-sex marriage has been legal so much longer. It was a wonderful day -a day when our relationship was allowed a fairer airing. Now the UK is moving forward too. Equality still doesn't exist for us 100%, like it doesn't for so many (and I don't just mean gay people), but we're heading in the right direction, as long as you don't look toward Uganda or Russia! 

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

My day in bullets

Here's what a normal Tuesday looks like here: (although I rarely do much 'normal')

  • Got up, showered, shaved etc etc
  • fed the cats and Cuddy. Special biscuits for R2 running low- note to self to pop into the vets sooner rather than later.
  • Had breakfast - Marmite and tomato toasted sandwich -still trying to increase intake of potassium.
  • Checked e-mail and Facebook. Not much going on there- the usual.
  • Caught bus to Catalan class - by the lore it was windy out there.
  • Spent almost two hours learning Catalan- getting into the future now...
  • Dropped into the school to do some photocopying and got nagged by the secretary for not answering my phone of picking up a message. I explained that good students turn their phones off during class!
  • Walked home, bought baguette on the way, would have bought a 'baston' but they've run out till tomorrow -well it has been Carnaval
  • Had lunch cooked by Tony - Pea and sweetcorn soup with bread.Rushed a bit to get ready for next class.
  • Started a new class at Kuku -a factory just five minutes from home. Most enjoyable.
  • Came home and had a coffee and biscuits - shared with Cuddy of course
  • More e-mail, facebook time- Never a waste of time when i'm enjoying it.
  • Wrote a short story at Writey-Ho (lucky I write for my own pleasure  as viewings have dropped off again- from 715 over a week ago to 5 yesterday)
  • Prepared lesson for evening class - Hmmm how to entertain students!! 
That's it so far but will:
  • Go to class and teach English
  • Come home and eat dinner as prepared by my wonderful husband.
  • Watch something on the TV - Maybe another episode of 'Game of Thrones'.
  • Bed.

Monday, 3 March 2014

The Party's over ..(mas o menos)

Well that was Carnaval Weekend and we're taking today out to recover. Happily it's a holiday here so no school and no private classes either.  There are still a couple of days left of Carnaval but it's a little more low-key, well for us anyway, as we start to get back to some semblance of normality. 

Will this dye ever come out? 

Today Tony's been housecleaning, although I did put the washing on and hang it out (note to self to get it in!) early on. While I've been out to the garden centre then dropped in at the lottie with some strawberry plants, a couple of sage-plants and a couple of mint plants. I also bought a couple of cat-grasses for our boys here, in the hope it stops them chewing every green shoot off as soon as it pops it's head above the soil. A bag of composted soil competed my trip - ready for sowing a load of seeds for planting out later. 


Yesterday we skipped out of a Sitges carnaval visit in favour of a few episodes of 'Game of Thrones'. We're getting used to our new IPTV system now and a new way of watching. I've watched more films in the last couple of weeks than I've watched in the last couple of years. So far I've watched 'The life of Pi' - good but not great, 'X-men, first class' - a nice bit of escapism; and 'The Help' which was every bit as good as the book, a book I loved and read far too quickly meaning it was over too quickly. I'm looking forward to seeing 'The book Thief' soon as that was another book I loved, and 'Dallas Buyers Club'. Sometimes there just aren't enough hours in the day to get everything done. 

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Comparses and Camp

Carnaval continues unabated, but we are slowing down a bit.

Last night we were out on the town dressed up among our fellow Vilanovins for a bit of a fancy dress party in town. We went out mid-evening, and didn't stay out too long, but enjoyed seeing everyone out in their garb.  The El Tacó lads were out and about again in the superheros costumes, while we were out in ours. 

Some of the Tacó lads
Our Sir Lord Tony of TulStig
 and his faithful jester...

and today it all kicked off again (early) for comparses -the sweetie throwing war. Groups from different associations from all over town skip around the streets of VnG throwing sweeties, singing and dancing gradually making their way to the town square where battles of wild ferocity take place. 

Just a bit of a mess ... 
 One of the bands of jolly Vilanovins