Thursday, 30 January 2014

Newsletter News

This month we are reviving our monthly newsletter under a new name 'House of TulStig News' and with a slightly updated format.

It will have all our news from the month as per usual, and hopefully a few tidbits from friends around the globe too. 

as a result of dwindling interest we stopped writing it towards the end of last year, but following our end of year edition we were asked to re-start it , so sent out e-mails to everyone who had ever had a copy to create a new mailing list. 

We have a had a great response and will be sending copies out to a variety of lands across the world including the UK and Spain, of course, Canada, Australia and Denmark.

If you've not signed up for a copy yet there's plenty of time to do so. Just add a comment to this post or send us a mail or text, or even give us a call. 

The first one for 2014 will be going out over the next couple of days....

Wednesday, 29 January 2014


All go here at Casa TulStig as we have a a few repairs done. We are currently in the midst of having new ceilings put in in the bathroom and kitchen, and a messy business it is too. Dust and plaster everywhere, and bare light bulbs, but at least this time our builder is a bit more conscientious and clearing up after himself as best he can. 

Although we're all a bit upside down at the moment it's also been a great excuse/reason for a bit of spring cleaning. And an excuse for a trip to Ikea in the next couple of days.

But it does mean baking has been on hold for a couple of days. We are now waiting for some of the plaster to dry though so should be able to knock up a couple of goodies over the weekend, and with carrots being so cheap at the moment I feel a carrot cake maybe in the making. 

Once the kitchen and bathroom are sorted we're re-jigging the cupboards in the scullery to give us a bit more room, and then changing the skirting boards throughout the flat so we can run wires behind them for extra electric sockets....

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Seize the Day.....

OK, so having got the weekend over, and I mean that in a nice way, we're getting back to normal. It was great to see Andrew and Jane and spend some quality time with them as always, but hectic schedules always leave us a bit energy depleted. 

On Tuesday we got the results of our Catalan test, and I am happy to say that we both passed -one of us even got over 85%, but I'll not be big-headed and say who! 

I've had a rather productive morning, starting off with a  bit of writing on Writey Ho, continuing the 'thriller' suspense story I've been writing. Sometimes summoning the energy to write is difficult (yep -I'm basically lazy!) but as soon as I get to it I love it. 

Did the usual household bits and bobs - a line of washing blowing in the breeze is always satisfying, and doesn't really need a lot of energy as the washing machine does all that. 

Had a tinker around in the garden. Spring is already on its way I feel as some of the plants are starting to bud already and some bulbs are sticking their heads above ground! 

And just a bit ago I baked - one of my favouritist (sic) pleasures. Juts a few muffins today - coconut and cranberry, and although I say it myself - they are blooming good. 

This afternoon I shall be sampling more of said muffins, teaching a class across the road, and another down town this evening. apart from that the day is mine- well to be honest: The whole day is always mine anyway! 

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Fiesta, family and fun

This last weekend has been a bit of a hectic one. Last Thursday Andrew and Jane arrived for the weekend's break, which we timed to coincide with our 'Tres tombs' fiesta  on the Friday celebrating our town's patron saint's day - St Anthony Abbat- who was a bit of an animal lover so the day is celebrated by animals getting blessings in church and a parade of the band biggest of what horse husbandry has to offer. Happily it was a lovely sunny day and we enjoyed ourselves in the sunshine. 

As is always the case with visitors it was a bit of a foodie time too. Thursday evening we had dinner in Gilda's after I finished work. Friday lunch was in Beverly Hills, with dinner chez TulStig. Saturday we snacked for lunch and I cooked Cauliflower & Broccoli Cheese with Spinach and Roast Potatoes for dinner, with Trifle for pudding. Sunday we had snacks again, down on the seafront, then A curry made by yours truly for dinner. Tony took over the kitchen duties on Monday preparing a delicious pumpkin soup for lunch and jacket potatoes and a thick stew for dinner. Plus a few assorted treats thrown in I think we all ate very well! 

On Saturday we had a trip out in the rain down to Cambrills and Salou which was kind of a wash out due to the poor weather.  Sunday was a glorious day so we spent the morning up the Lottie digging and the had the evening in again. Monday we popped into Sitges for a nose around, then I was back to work in the evening so Andrew and Jane had a wander round VnG. 

This morning I dropped them off, rather early, at the airport in BCN for their return journey to Gatwick and home. All in all a fun but little bit tiring weekend. 

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Exam Time

This morning was our last Catalan class for this course, and because of that it was exam time too.

We knew this was coming, but did we prepare? Like most schoolkids we left it to the last minute, then found something better to do. The number of times I tell my students to prepare for exams and not to leave it to the last minute then I do the opposite-  a definite case of do what I say not what I do.

We didn't think it would be a big exam, but it actually took up most of the one and three quarter hours of the lesson this morning.

We started off with a listening. Now this part of any exam is always difficult, but to make it extra difficult the main character in today's listening was not only speaking Catalan, but also was a Chinese gentleman - added level of difficulty because of the accent. Still I did think I got a few of the answers. Tony on the other hand found it impossible- partly cos of his deaf ear too!

Then we had another five or six sheets of questions. A reading comprehension that wasn't too difficult, a gap fill exercise, also OK, and a list of grammar questions. Some of those were OK, but a few did my head in!

So there's no class this Thursday, but there is one of sorts on Tuesday when we will get the results, and be able top sign up for the next level ... watch this space for how it all went.

Monday, 13 January 2014

Monday at Casa TulStig

Not a great start to the morning, but all very necessary. 
First stop R2 to the vets - booster shots for his problem.
All handled with a minimum of stress and he's a happy chappy.
Next me to the hospital. a little more stressy than R2, but all okay.
Next stop Aldi - picking up some bits and pieces for our imminent arrivals. 
Home for a breather, then lunch, lesson prep and a bit of mess around on Facebook. 
All in all a pretty ususal kind of morning at Casa TulStig except...

We had a call from one of the estate agents we've been trying to find a flat for a holiday let late on Sunday evening - I never answer my mobile at the weekend for 'unknown' numbers.  She left a message to say that the flat we had liked a lot is back on the market -seems the guy can't get the amount he wants for it and we're the only interested parties. Negotiating hat back on.. leading to further thoughts of our property empire. We are seriously thinking of selling our flat in Brockley this year. We're never going back and with the freed up capital we have another possible project in mind... watch this space.

Oh and on another note we're reviving the TulStig Newsletter. It seems quite a few people missed our monthly rounds-up of news, and I missed going over the good things we do each month and celebrating them in print. On Sunday I sent out a round robin to all those who used to get the news asking everyone t ore-subscribe, and have had quite a few replies so far... so later this month we'll be mailing out a new 'House of TulStig' newsletter. If you didn't get the e-mail but would like a copy of our monthly rag just send us a message or add a reply on here.

So that was kinda my day - how was yours? 

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Life is good

Life is GOOD.

As another busy weekend is drawing to a close we are resting indoors in front of the telly with Cuddy and the cats. Had a bit of rain last night, for which we are grateful (really) and today has been overcast, but enough of the weather.

Yesterday I was up early to get round the market before going to school, it being my weekend to work. Strangely I really enjoy the Saturday classes - Four hours of proficiency -the highest level so challenging but enjoyable all the more for that. 

Last night we had dinner out in Sitges with Toni, Pilar, Carmen & Bernard. We've been meeting up for regular dinners for a long while now, but this has been our first in some time. Some of you may remember Pilar and Toni from our wedding (good memories?)- Toni is our Bank manager and responsible for our getting Cuddy! 

So dinner was in Sitges at a fairly new restaurant called 'Lady Green' (facebook page), originally called Lady Blues. A veggie restaurant with a fairly limited but tasty menu. We started with Lebanese Lentil soup. Now sure why it's Lebanese as it was really similar to a lentil soup we would make. For main course we had Pakora and ended with cheesecake. The cheesecake was worth the visit on its own- the best I've had for a long while! 

Afterwards we went to another fairly new bar for a drink to celebrate and toast Pilar's retirement. She finished work at Christmas and promises that she will be taking up English again once she gets herself organised. The bar specialises in gin and tonics in a variety of guises, but as I was driving (on the wagon) I opted for a 'San Francisco' -a fruit cocktail. 
All in all it turned out to be quite a late night - we didn't get in until 2am so toady was a bit more sedate than originally planned - no visit to the lottie, but I guess it was a bit wet up there anyway. 

Friday, 10 January 2014


After having tidied up our garden/patio this week I mad ea trip up to the Lottie to plant one of the Yukkas that was outgrowing it's pot here.

In the garden we cut back a load of the plants and removed the dead and dying ones, cleared up the gravel and put down some clean soil. Whilst doing so we noticed that some bulbs are already peeking out ready for some delightful spring flowers to show their heads soon. I'm happy to say the gooseberry plant is hanging on in there, and dare I say thriving, whereas the rhubarb plants are not to be seen -I'm just hoping they've goen underground for the winter!

Up at the Lottie I planted the Yukka, and did a bit of general tidying.

 Fortunately Sue, Victoria and jen had all been up the day before to do some weeding and even made a scarecrow to try and protect our little plants from the birds, who have been feasting on the tender leaves of the lettuce etc.

It's all looking pretty good. Last week I spent some time up there and put canes up for the peas and constructed a small compost site.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

False start...

WE got off to a bit of a false start this morning. UP and out in time for our first Catalan class of the year with no problem. Ten o'clock came and Sue Tony and I were the only ones sitting there, wondering if we'd erred. I popped into the office and win my best Catalan asked if there were classes today- 'Oh no,' the man told me 'They start on the ninth.' -Oops. So we adjourned to a local bar and did some revision, which was all good really as on the 21st we have our end of course exam. 

This afternoon I had arranged to start classes again with a lad across the road. At 4.30 I rang their doorbell but got no answer - I guess he's not ready to start again yet either. 

All this is probably because schools don't start back until tomorrow. I have just one class at Supernova this evening, just wondering if any students will turn up. 

So this afternoon as a way to pass a bit of time I wandered onto the cruise site to see what's available for September -well if we book in advance we'll get a bargain. Sure enough found a cruise we'd quite like to do. Setting sail from BCN going up to Savona, then down to Casablanca, Cadiz and Lisbon, amongst other stops. All for well under a grand. So first of all need to check on pet-sitting volunteers and then we may just book it. Janey, Donna, Amy - you reading this? Or anyone else fancy a stint at Casa TulStig (9 days in September)

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Word to live by

This was today's prompt from 'Fatmumslim' that I've been following for my writing challenges. After a modicum of thinking I came up with a few words by which I try to live my life, but perhaps one of the most important for me is TRUST.

  • I trust in myself
  • I trust I will always be provided for by the universe
  • I trust in the law of attraction (even when I am attracting the not so good things)
  • I trust in the principles of abundance
  • I trust in my friends
  • I trust you are reading this and adding to the list. :-) 

Friday, 3 January 2014

My Town - Vilanova

When I first came across this town I wasn't sure about it. On my second visit I started to fall in love with it, on my third I knew it was where I wanted to live, and to die. 
"What brought you to Vilanova?" I am often asked, and often reply with 'a car' or 'a plane'. But what really brought me here was magic - a power so strong that it united me with the home of my soul- yes I really feel that strongly about where I now live. Which isn't to say I haven't loved the other places I have lived, but now I feel settled, content and truly at home. 
True enough being an expat has its drawbacks, and advantages. For instance I don't really fit exactly here as a local, nor do I feel right when back in Britain. I am a man without ties to any land, but ties to both. A strange dichotomy that at times is freeing and at others frustrating. 
This town, and in particular our barrio, has an incredible energy that all our visitors have enjoyed.  It is a tranquil place yet lives up to a partying reputation with so many fiestas and celebrations which are held (thrown?) at least once a  month. 
I could give you the touristy round of of VnG (as it is often referred to) but you can find any of that by googling (Vilanova i la Geltru), so I don't want to do that. What I do want to impart is just how wonderful this town can make you feel. 
Not convinced by my words? Then get yourself booked on a flight and find out for real. Mi casa es su casa, as the saying goes. 

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Day Two - Giant Chewies and Gourmet Chinese

Still pushing the 'think positive' line into my head. I know it works but sometimes it's difficult to hang onto it. However, from the stats I'm getting from my blogs from yesterday it seems there are quite a few of you wanting to read my scribblings.  Thank you to you all, whether you're enjoying my short stories on Writey Ho, or following my daily ramblings on here.

Cuddy's very happy at the moment, enjoying one of her Christmas presents -a giant chewy. Normally she gets through anything like this in no time. This one has lasted quite a while so far... let's see if it survives 24 hours or more. It mus make her jaw ache, but she keeps on going at it.

 This photo also fulfills my daily photo challenge the prompt being 'G is for...' Giant Chewy - of course.

I've been out to the market today. I love this town of mine so much, especially it's little stores where the staff can be so helpful and friendly - I even tried out some of my faltering Catalan today with a modicum of success too.  And the reason for market shopping? Well yesterday we saw a Chinese cooking programme, and a couple of the veggie recipes really whetted my appetite, so I was out in search of the ingredients. More or less all found so this evening we shall be eating Chinese - Home made!

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

And so it begins

Yep - 2014 is here, and for those of us that thought that Christmas 1996 would be our last we've a lot to be happy about! 

2013 wasn't a bad year for us here at Casa TulStig but it did end on a rather sad month. Still enough of that let's get on with the business of a new year and all that brings.

Last night we celebrated gently to welcome in the new year- twice again as is our want. First of all at 12.00 midnight Spanish time we did the whole grapes thing whilst watching the celebrations in Madrid, then at 12.00 English time we raised our glasses and watched the fireworks from London.

This morning we were up a little later than normal. Recovering after a late night definitely gets more difficult with the passing of the years. Cuddy didn't want a walk for some reason so that was that. So with housely chores out of the way I settled down to my usual round of checking mail and replying to messages.  It is wonderful to have so many friends out there sending messages of goodwill - buoyed me up I can tell you. 

For lunch I threw a quick courgette and spinach soup together, and as we were out of bread and the local corner shop was closed I made some sun-dried tomato and onion soda bread to go with it. Yumski! 

Since then I have messed about with our new smart TV -still can't work out how to watch on it - maybe need to get HDMI leads and stream direct from the laptop? (if anyone can advise just message me!)- anyway that will sort itself out bit by bit, and done a bit of writing. (  

I love writing so need to make sure I dedicate some time to it, likewise with the allotment, which I intend to visit over the next couple of days. I also love reading so am off now to indulge in a bit of that. Still haven't finished 'The Power of one'. I am thoroughly enjoying it, but it's not one of those books I feel the need to rush through.