Monday, June 23, 2008


And following on from Gucci.....we have Oasis. Another UK high street fashion store which opened in Gib this month.

As Partner was working there on the elaborate interior decoration, he took the opportunity to take a few pix before it opened.

Like all chain stores, it has to fit in with the corporate image, and Oasis in Gib needs to look like Oasis in Regent Street.

This is not a couple of coats of white matt emulsion whacked on the walls. Oh no.

Specially mixed paint, Lincrusta panelling (put up by Partner of course, which luckily he has done before) and an exclusive huge chrysanthemum logo on the walls.

To make their job even more difficult, the huge chrysanthemum was self-adhesive so there was no flexibility and no margin for error. Just as well they got it right. So here are the pix of their craft work. And some clothes pictures to finish with, seeing as it is a clothes shop.

And if anyone in Gib notices a disproportionate amount of construction tradesman lurking amid the flounces and frills of Oasis, it's almost certainly some of Partner's colleagues going to look at the finished decorating rather than floral frocks.

His colleague, a joiner, outside the shop.

The joiner moving one of the panels.

Admiring their work.

Columns in the middle of the shop, which now have Lincrusta inside the moulding.

Window dressing.

And a few more clothes.

And more ...... and a nice long shot of the chrysanthemums.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

I can see clearly now.......

Some time ago I bought some new contact lenses in Spain.

When they arrived the prescription was wrong. While I could see reasonably well out of one eye, the other was little better than my own very short-sighted vision.

After a few months, one eye was feeling a bit itchy so I took the lens out. It had ripped across the middle - not completely, but very nearly. Certainly more than half way.

I gazed at the offending torn lens and felt slightly sick at the thought of having narrowly escaped two shards of plastic scratching around in my eye.

At this point I went back to the previous lenses which I must have had for ten years. Although somewhat battered and knocked around, they were still intact. Just not brill vision as my eyesight has deteriorated since I bought those lenses.

Sadly the other day I dropped one of them on the floor. Even more sadly it happened to be the one lens that was the better prescription.

Despite not vacuuming (not something I do much of anyway), examining the contents of the dustpan every time I swept up, and crawling around on my hands and knees, I found nothing but dog fur, dust and grit.

There was no way round it, I was going to have go through the tedious eye-testing process again.

For anyone who doesn't wear contact lenses, it basically takes twice as long as a normal eye-test and your eyes get filled with yellow gunk. Then there is the cost. And I am not fond of spending money if I can avoid it. Shopaholic me - never.

Partner suggested I get some glasses. He thought it would be more sensible than me crawling around on the floor every time I dropped a lens.

So I wandered into the local opticians and had a look at some frames. Mmm. Yes, there was quite a nice dark brown pair. I decided I could cultivate a new image. The sort-of librarian look. To any librarians out there this is not a derogatory comment. I was thinking, thoughtful, serious, intellectual. I asked the price. They were something over a hundred quid. Not cheap - to my way of thinking. Although there were cheaper frames. There were also dearer ones.

I wondered if I could get some of those cheap off-the-shelf jobbies from the supermarket like Partner wears for reading. Nope. They are only for long-sighted people. They don't do the same stuff for us myopic types.

I bit the bullet and made the appointment. Partner came to help choose the frames. We all - me, him, the three staff in the shop - agreed on the same pair of frames.

Gucci. I ask you. How embarrassing. I have never bought anything by Gucci in my life and I end up with a pair of designer spectacle frames. I am sure it would be perfectly possible to design a pair of brown frames without putting that all-important double G sign on them.

Still, they looked better than all the others. And much better than the Prada ones that had disgusting pieces of diamanté on them. Diamanté on spectacle frames? Definitely not me.

I decided I wanted contact lenses too. Hard ones. PMMA. The nice easy-to-maintain, tough-as-old-boots ones that I have managed with for the last 20 years. My optician said she would need to get a price. Heart sank on hearing that.

In the meantime, they would try and get my spare pair of glasses (it was "buy one get one free" although unsurprisingly the free one did not include another pair of Gucci frames) made up as quickly as possible.

A couple of days later the lenses had arrived for the free pair so I went to collect them. The flash Gucci number arrived another week or so after that, and then a couple of days ago my contact lenses arrived too.

Total time from start to finish? Around two weeks. Cost of glasses (two pairs), eye test, and clip on sun-things - equivalent to one week of Partner's take home pay. The contact lenses were not dear - cheaper (and better) than the ones I bought in Spain, and also cheaper than the spectacle frames. The prescription seems fine too, and the service has been excellent.

To anyone in Gib or Spain, I totally recommend Gache and Co opticians, just off Main Street in Cathedral Square.

That all-important double G for Gucci logo

Monday, June 16, 2008

Take away or eat in?

As readers of my dog's blog will know, we have had a flurry of eating out. For the first time in I can't remember how many years.

This is how it started.

I decided to ring for an Indian. You have to imagine the right accents for this conversation.

"Hello Take-Away Restaurant" says Indian in that combination of singsong Indian meets singsong Welsh accent that they have.

(I'm not very good at understanding accents but I can manage Indian ones because they all sound like Partner when he's had too much to drink. He's Welsh. Not Indian).

"Hello" says me.  "I want one vegetable jaipuri" in even sillier combination of Gibbo speaking English with clipped accent meets singsong Indian/Welsh accent.

"No vegetable jaipuri." 

I scan the menu quickly.

"OK.  I have vegetable rogan josh."

"No vegetable rogan josh."

"No vegetable rogan josh?" says me parrot fashion.

"No vegetable rogan josh" says Indian robot.

"Well what vegetable curry do you have?" still in silly accent but at least reverting to proper sentence structure.

"Only veg curry sag aloo."

"Only sag aloo?" (return of the parrot).

"Yes, only sag aloo" says robot, clearly dealing with the thickest woman in Gibraltar.

"Well thanks sweetheart but no thanks" says me, so annoyed that I even forgot the silly accents and reverted to posh Yorkshire.  And put the phone down.

Looked at Partner.  The parrot came back to me and I told him there was no veg jaipuri, no veg rogan josh, only veg curry was sag aloo. Which was pretty stupid as he had been sitting there listening to the whole surreal conversation anyway.  

Then I ripped up the menu and threw it in the bin.  It's always satisfying to DO something when someone annoys you, I find. Then I was stumped.

Why was the Indian not doing veg curry on a Thursday night?  It's not as though I'm not a good customer.  I have spent £8 there on my veg curries at least twice in the last two months, maybe three times.

"What about the other one?" says Partner.  No. Don't like that, I said.  (Mainly cos I didn't feel like the walk as it is near Morrison's, although I'm not that keen on it either).

"Well I'm sure that one at the marina (near us ie Ragged Staff, Queensway Marina) does take aways," says Partner.  So I rang up - with strict instructions from Partner to speak properly.  Without any accents apart from a posh Yorkshire one.

Yes they did.  This seemed a Good Plan.  Near, and we could all (ie us plus Pippadog) walk down and choose what we wanted and sit and wait for it.   So we walked down and I went inside.  Partner and Pippa leaning against the railings looking cool.  

Indian waiter escorted me outside with menu and tablecloth.  

"We've got a dog," I said, pointing to Pippa.  "He's big", I added unnecessarily.  

No problem.  We all sat down, actually Pippa lay down to get the best cat-spotting position.  Chose the food, went for the impossible veg jaipuri which was available, sag aloo which I'd refused from the other place, nan and rice.  

"Do you want a drink?" says me to Partner, thinking how nice it was sitting there.  

"Ask how much it is", he says.  Less than two quid - cheap.  Beer for him, glass of wine for me.  Nice.  Evening sun, boats, a drink. Someone cooking my tea. No washing up, or at least only the plates when we got home and I dished it up.   What more could I want?  

"Shall we eat here?" I said brightly.

Partner looked horrified. "No.  I want a take-away.  I want to eat in the flat."

"Why do you want to eat in the flat? We could eat here. It's nice here.  It's nicer than eating in the flat, I think."

Warming to theme and with incontrovertible logic I thought.  Repeated it to get point across.

"Don't you think it's nicer sitting here in the sun looking at the boats instead of eating inside in a small poky flat?"

Furrowed brow from Partner.  "We don't like eating out.  You won't enjoy it.  It will be dear."

"No it won't.  It's the same price as the takeaway."  Actually I didn't know what price the take-away was, ie I didn't know if there was a reduction. Maybe not, there isn't always.

"I want to eat here."  I said.  Therefore end of discussion as far as I was concerned.

"Well, when was the last time we ate out?" says Partner suddenly trying to convince me we should eat out.

"And it's really nice sitting here isn't it?" he says persuasively.

"I've just got paid too, so there is plenty of money," he says generously.

He turned into the parrot and repeated this mantra a few times while I sat there doing the goldfish routine.  After a while I remembered how to speak.

"Why are you trying to convince me?  It's you that doesn't want to eat out.  I want to eat here."

"No, no, I think it would be really good ......blah blah" parrot mantra again.

So ate out we did. And have done since repeatedly. The take-away has lost out. The food at the restaurant is better anyway.

I can recommend the Maharaja on Queensway Quay. Lots of veg curries, choice of rice dishes, different nans, some interesting starters, good salad, and an excellent pickle tray. Average price including a couple of drinks - £20-£25.

And a great view too. Starting prices of the flats overlooking the marina with the same view - around half a mill (sterling). Worth £20-£25 for a lovely meal out.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

A few thanks

Sometimes it's nice to be able to say a few good things. It doesn't seem to happen very often these days.

Firstly to the Alsina Graells bus driver.

We were travelling from Málaga to Algeciras on the directo bus which has one stop in Marbella.

Approaching Marbella after about 50 minutes, there was an odd smell. Some of us turned round to look at the other passengers. Someone, somewhere at the back of the bus was SMOKING. Which has been banned on Spanish buses for a few years now. And interestingly, although smoking is ingrained in Spanish culture, the ban is rarely transgressed.

We pulled into the bus station and whoever it was had stopped by then.

Some fifty minutes later, same thing again. Second-hand cigarette smoke wafting through the air-conditioning.

I wondered if it was the driver as I have seen the very odd few smoking. I looked in the mirror. He looked right back at me. No. It wasn't him. He was looking for the culprit at the back of the bus. Then he clicked some switch and the roof light shot open.

"NO PUEDE FUMAR EN EL AUTOBUS!" he hollered down the bus.

Everyone turned round at this point. One very red-faced looking person ducked down, presumably to put out the offending cigarette.

Very good, bus driver. It may only seem like one cigarette, but to those of us who don't smoke, it is not a cigarette we want to smell or breathe for five minutes or so. Good on the bus driver for not ignoring it.

Secondly to the Gibraltar Health Authority. I have finally motivated myself to get our official health cards. I took the forms in on Wednesday and I was told they would be ready on Friday. And they were. A very efficient and friendly service.

Thirdly to our local shops. Given the current fuel problems and strikes by lorry drivers there have been some problems in Gibraltar. Shortages of petrol and empty shelves in Morrisons.

Petrol stations started allocating petrol to Gib reg cars only. I think that is fair enough. Nothing wrong with people driving in from Spain to get cheap fuel here in Gib but when there isn't much of it around, it's good that responsible garage owners are putting local residents first.

I said empty shelves in Morrisons. When I went, the fresh vegetable shelves were empty (apart from turnips and kohlrabi). But when I went to my local veg shop, which happens to be a) nearer b) cheaper c) provide (IMO) better quality veg, there was still plenty of stuff. Nor was there a sudden hike in prices because there was a shortage of food elsewhere. Still for all those people who don't speak Spanish and don't want to go into small dark shops when they can just use the supermarket, I guess this type of shopping isn't an option. Fortunately for the rest of us.

Anyway, thanks to all of you. For being thoughtful, considerate, polite, and in the case of the local shopowners for not taking the opportunity to profiteer by hiking up the prices in a time of shortage.