Thursday, May 31, 2007

Forward Control 2B/Royal Gibraltar Police

Here is a view of some local scenery.

OK I know it's a Land Rover but Helpful Partner likes Land Rovers.

And the dog already has his own blog, so I am certainly not, and I mean not, maintaining a Landyblog.

So here is a Land Rover Santana Forward Control Series 2B which lives not far out the back of us.

It is used on an aguacate finca (avocado farm) and it takes the aguacates to the local corrida (wholesale veg market) in our village.

It often drives past our house, but sadly Land Rover Smitten Partner never has the camera on him.

So one day he found it when he was having a brief wander.

For any similarly smitten people - drool on. It's the only one we have seen here in Andalucia.

Top marks
to the Royal Gibraltar Police (RGP).

It is really nice to be able to say something good about people for once.

We sent a fax to them today regarding getting a delivery to our flat in Gibraltar.

The street is narrow and will need No Parking signs to be put up by the RGP in advance.

We received a return confirmatory fax and a quick 'phone call. Great service, fast, efficient and very polite.

Let's hope everything works out as well on the day.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Listening to the neighbours

A little bit of Spanish can be quite useful. Mmmm.

So sitting out on our terrace while the (Spanish) neighbours were helpfully talking away at each other and anyone within earshot..

Snippet 1
The 15-year-old son next-door came off his pushbike some weeks ago. He wasn't wearing a helmet or gloves. He ended up in the city hospital with his jaw wired, his face badly knocked about, his cheekbones damaged, and he hasn't been back to school since.

The grandfather, who actually owns the property (three generations in the same space), asked why he came off.

Was he going too fast? Why was he going down such a steep hill? (Not one that we would tackle..)

"It wasn't his fault. It was the bike's fault," said his mother without missing a beat.

She went on to add that the brakes weren't working properly. So it was obviously the bike's fault.

The bike went into the skip after the incident. The lad now rides a moped, obviously without a helmet, and if the brakes don't work one day, no doubt it will also be the moped's fault.

Snippet 2
There was a party at the local council building a few nights ago. It was put on by one of the local political parties as elections are coming up very soon.

"We need to vote for them", said Marcey (the same mother of the son with the culpable bike). "They give us free beer and they will look after the people of this village."

Her 80-year-old father was nearly ROFLAO - or he would have been if he had internet access and understood the abbreviations. He still laughed at her anyway.

Snippet 3
The 15-year-old with the poorly face then piped up. "They look after the wogs/guiris/foreigners."

"No they don't," snapped his mother. "Our neighbours fund themselves. They don't get benefits or healthcare, they put money into our community and don't take anything out. They don't get a vote, they pay their bills - and the council does nothing for them."

"Well, my mate up the back says....."

"Your mate up the back is wrong. Just because his family is jealous doesn't mean they are right. And in a few years time, he will walk past you with his nose in the air because he thinks he is better off than you.

"When was the last time he came to call for you?" she finished.

"Well, my dad said...."

"Well, your dad is wrong too."

"The neighbour takes work from my dad..." he said.

"No, he doesn't do that either. The last time he did something was for an English couple - your dad would never have worked for them.

"If you haven't anything useful to say, keep your mouth shut."

Given that she is the only one bringing in money right now, she can get away with it.

His dad has not worked for two years. His parting shot in today's heated argument - about the same sort of stuff, politics, work, and why haven't we got anything - was "Why should I leave my pueblo for work?"

Fine mate. You just ponce off your father-in-law and your wife for the rest of your life. And don't forget to bring up your sons with the same narrow-minded bigoted views.

Que pases un buen dia.

Oh by the way. We like our neighbours. We have helped each other out lots and lots. We still do, they gave me some good veg plants only the other day. We just don't all come from the same point of view. La vida va asi.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

A day at the shops?

A few local scenery shots today.

Totally coincidental that they all involve Land Rovers.

Here is the supermarket car park with a fine example of a Land Rover Santana c Series III. Spot the deliberate omission. (Clue - it's a legal requirement.)

Here we are on the road back from the shops.

And here we are on the beach. Not a soul in sight. It was a beautiful warm day too.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Peas and mi chichi - habla español? (2)

One day we were getting peas from the vegetable man who comes round the village in his van.

We used to ask for guisantes but now we don't bother. We ask for chicharros like everyone else does in the village.

In the local town you can use either, it really depends where the shop owner is from as to which word they prefer to use.

We used to call ordinary flat green beans judias but, like the chicharros, we have adopted local custom and call them habachuelas.

And I have given up asking for patatas too, and slip into the idle use of papas. Asking for patatas was often met with blank looks anyway.

Back to the peas. So while we were asking about the use of the word chicharros, the (40-year-old) daughter of our neighbour started talking about mi chichi.

Not surprisingly it isn't an abbreviation of chicharros. And definitely not a good idea to go up to the guapa (pretty) shop assistant and say you want some of her chichis.

To save you googling it - it is the part of the female anatomy that is always used as an obscene swear-word in English.

Words that I try not to use. One of the vague feminist principles I can remember is that it is not cool to use such words in an insulting, derogatory, or abusive context, ie the word association is not good.

Apparently though, it is not always insulting, derogatory or abusive here.

My female neighbour in her late 70s will cheerfully stand outside talking and say "coño!" meaning not much more than drat. Can I imagine my mother at the same age (or any age) saying "c***!" in a casual conversation with the neighbours? It gets used on Spanish television too.

And according to neighbour Marcey, you can walk onto the bus, and say to a good friend "Hola, mi chichi...que hay?"

I do not think any of my good and very long-term friends would be impressed if I greeted them with "Hello, my little c*** ... how are you?"

Sunday, May 20, 2007


I've just developed an amazing respect for left-handed people in a right-handed world.

And an even greater respect for people who only have the use of one hand.

Since my dog most unhelpfully decided to chase a cat - and in the course of which dragged me with him for the first few yards - my right arm has been useless.

I can't cook, because I can't chop with my left hand. I can't clean (not that I do much of that), I can't type anything longer than a few sentences - but that's because I find it so frustrating that it takes such a long time. I can't write with a pen. I can't tie shoelaces.

The ironing board will soon collapse under the weight of clean but very wrinkly clothes. I can't cycle. The digi camera is designed for a right-handed person, although it doesn't stop Worn-out Partner - who is left-handed - being able to use it. I have visions of dropping it.

I can put my contact lenses in - and fortunately can take them out too, I can open things - jars, bottles, bags, although I need to use my feet or toes or knees to help.

But I am feeling pretty useless. I guess I should sit back and enjoy being waited on.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

A nice drive

We were idly driving round Gibraltar trying to find a parking space - as you do - when we suddenly found we were locked into a one-way system of no return.

Ah well, what better to do on a nice sunny afternoon than have a tour round the promontory?

And then have a nice rest. So we all had a stop at Little Bay.

I took some photos.
The dog had a few peepees. I had a bottle of beer. Driving partner walked the dog and wished he had turned right down the hill towards Ragged Staff Gates and gone to the usual car park instead of hitting the Rosia Road.

Then we went through a long tunnel. That was exciting.

For once I didn't have an attack of paranoia that the Landy wouldn't go through the small gap hacked out of the rock. There are so many MoD Land Rovers in Gibraltar that everything must be made Land Rover sized.

Down to Europa Point we went, past the mosque, and then back round on the top road.

And back to the car park where we normally park.

Friday, May 11, 2007


This blog, ie mine - Itchy feet at forty - is about our life in Spain, and a bit about Gibraltar too.

We have made mistakes like everyone does. And we have had lots of good times as well.

We want to share this with other people who want to move, live, travel, work, whatever, in this area. No ulterior motives.

I am seriously racked off with Brit Blog: The Blog aka The British Blog Directory for rejecting my application to join their list of blogs. They don't even have a very big list.

What is going on? Do I have to be scantily clad from Ibiza to get on it?

Here is what I received.

Dear BritBlog applicant,

We are sorry to tell you that your application to join BritBlog was not successful.

Before you get annoyed, please read on...

Perhaps you have not fully understood our submission policies, so if you have not yet read them but still wish to join, please take a moment to review them now:

It may be that we could not determine if you were British or not. We get a lot of spam applications each day, so if you think we've made a mistake please let us know!

Your blog may have been rejected due to a lack of content. If your blog is new and is lacking content, please do re-apply once you have made more posts.

Please remember that we get large volumes of applications each day, and while we take care when reviewing new applications it is still possible for us to make mistakes. If you think we've made an error do please contact, and remember to tell us the email address used for your application and your blog URL.

Please DO NOT reply to this email: replies will be discarded.


The BritBlog Team

If you did not request this then please accept our apologies and ignore this email.

Well, anyway. I replied - not to that address, the other one - Foolishly. Thinking I would get a response. I am British. It isn't spam. I thought they had made a mistake. The blog has content - about Spain and Gibraltar. Perhaps it isn't the sort of advertising or publicity content they want.

I contacted them the same day. At the beginning of this month.

I'm still waiting for them to tell me why I have been rejected.

Perhaps they want a photocopy of my passport signed by the British Consul in Málaga to certify that I am a British citizen - which I happen to be able to provide.

Well I wasn't annoyed when I received the email - but I certainly am now. I think around here people would say "hijos de puta". It's certainly my view.

And now I have looked at some of the blogs on there I am not too worried. I can live without BritBlog. I will find some other way to share useful information with people that are interested.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Driving in Spain - incidents on the N340

We've just come back from a trip on the N340 between Málaga and points south. The well-known coast road that for the most part runs by the sea, through the amazing, totally overbuilt Costa del Sol from Torremolinos down to Estepona, and further.

In fact with the amount of buildings that are going up at La Duquesa (south of Estepona), the non-stop urban monstrosities will soon reach San Roque.

The road is part dual carriageway, part motorway, and if you choose, part cruising through the towns, but we have stopped doing that because it really is too, too slow. Although prettier.

The Spanish drive fast. Most people on motorways drive fast. The national traffic department regularly publishes statistics about how many people die over the weekend.

For the 1 May Bank Holiday weekend 2007 (celebrated here on the first and not the first Monday as in the UK), there were only 45 deaths. And this was good news, because 13 people less died this year than last year.

In a couple of trips we have experienced:

1) A strange guy driving very slowly (30mph - or perhaps it was 30kph) on the dual carriageway, held everyone up until we could all pass him.

When we passed him he seemed more interested in his nose than driving. Not sure whether he was picking it or what. With the bit of silver foil in his hand.

Later on he woke up. And overtook everyone again. Half an hour later on the three-lane motorway coming into Málaga he was in the outside lane doing 30 something an hour again. With everyone amazingly slowing down and managing to avoid him. Again.

2) Going through Málaga in the other direction, a car stopped dead in the middle lane. Two guys getting out leisurely to retrieve their obligatory yellow jackets from the boot before they started messing around with the car. The ones they should have been wearing before they even stepped out onto the motorway.

We just couldn't work out why they had stopped. Not an ideal spot though. Downhill. Traffic speeding up or flying off on one of the city exits. Still, another accident narrowly avoided.

3) The rude, ignorant, and aggressive driver of a Q8 tanker somewhere between Málaga and Rincon de la Victoria. The stretch of road where the speed limit is 100kph and we were doing around 85 and it wasn't fast enough for him so he started tailgaiting and hooting his horn.

Yes we were in the inside lane. Yes he could have overtaken but chose to be abusive and intimidating for a while first. Then he overtook, hooted his horn, and cut in front of us. It was fairly obvious he was going to do that so we were expecting it.

We are not the only vehicle on a motorway that doesn't do the maximum speed. We were not doing 30kph and picking our noses. We do not have a new vehicle or a company vehicle that will be replaced when it has died after abuse on the motorway.

A maximum speed limit of 100 kph is exactly that. It does not mean a minimum speed limit of 100kph that we should all be doing, and that everyone else who really wants can do at least 120kph.

We are looking forward to the day when Spanish trucks have nice signs on saying "Do I drive well, if not - report me...." Ojala.

More on the N340 and Spanish driving later....

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Regimental Day

Gibraltar oozes history. It also buzzes with life.

At the weekend there was a superb piece of live history when the Royal Gibraltar Regiment (RGR) paraded through the town.

The regiment celebrated its Regimental Day and it's 68th anniversary by exercising its Freedom of the City.

The events began at midday on Saturday with a Ceremonial Guard Mount outside the Convent (Main Street).

Afterwards the regiment marched down Main Street, from Referendum Gate to Casemates Hill.

Since being granted the Freedom of the City in 1971 the Royal Gibraltar Regiment has aimed to exercise that Freedom every two years.

Under the provisions of the Freedom of the City the Regiment can march with bayonets fixed, swords drawn and Colours flying.

The parade was accompanied by the Regiment’s own Band and Corps of Drums, and visiting members from the Pipes and Drums of the London Scottish Regiment.  

In recent years the regiment has become more important as it took over the defence of the Rock, which is a key logistical base for the British military establishment and Nato.

Soldiers from the RGR have been deployed to conflict areas such as Afghanistan and Iraq where they have gained battle frontline experience.

Adrian for photos and being there

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Tall ships - tall stories

So the Hardworking Partner had a good time the other night (in Gibraltar).

After flogging himself to death repainting the flat, ie covering vile coats of dark coloured paint with three or four coats of white he finally knocked off for the night.

Off to the bar where he meets some friendly Swedish people. Lars and Sven or whatever Swedish people are called. And Peter the cameraman.

They had lots of games of pool and then they all drifted off together to go and get something to eat.

"Come and visit our ship tomorrow, at 11 o'clock, for a tour on board."

So he did. Here are some of the pics.

He didn't get on board though. Lars and Peter never came off the boat.

Hey guys. Nice ship. Good evening had by all. Don't make offers that you aren't going to fulfill.

Hardworking Partner wasted an hour or so sitting down at the port waiting for you to show up.