Sunday, December 28, 2008


On Christmas Eve Partner came in loaded up with shopping. I dutifully unloaded it all. No surprise presents to be seen. It was obviously hidden elsewhere.

When he went out of the room I carefully checked his jacket pocket and could feel the shape of a box in there. Goody.

As James and Peanut both asked - a pair of silver earrings, in a delightful box, which I had a fine time playing with. The box photos better than the earrings.

And, in response to James' other comment - I was pleased it wasn't a Nickleback CD, which I do not want, and even Partner realised it wasn't entirely smart to buy something for me that he wanted.

We spent most of the break relaxing at home, apart from walks out with the dog down to the marina. So here are some shots from Boxing Day which was nice and sunny. Including one of a seriously obscene boat currently moored there.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas presents

So yesterday Partner announced he thought he might buy me a surprise Christmas present on Christmas Eve after work.

"After all," he said, "it's nice to get a surprise present on Christmas Day."

Not a surprise in as much as I don't know I'm getting it, but the surprise is what I'm getting.

This morning he skipped up hours before the crack of dawn.

"Have you get enough money to go to the supermarket?" I called, still idling my arse on the floor/in bed. (For anyone who doesn't know we haven't got round to buying a bed so sleep on camping mats on the floor).

"Yes, I think so," he said sounding organised and pleased with himself.

"And my surprise Christmas present?"

"Oh. No. I don't think I have."

Heard the noise of him hastily shoving a few more notes in his wallet.

Laughed to self. Tantalises me with the prospect of a present, and the next morning, totally forgets that he will need money to buy one.

Fine surprise that would have been.

Oh, and I'm sure this sudden surprise present has nothing to do with the fact that he wants - yet another - Land Rover Santana for Christmas.

ETA: Dog clearly knows it is Christmas too. I nipped out down the high street to get a couple of things and came back to find him devouring all the bread rolls that are meant to keep us going over the holiday.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

EU ruling in favour of Gib, State Aid Case

Yay! Good one Gibraltar government and the UK. Click here.

Government of Gibraltar and United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland v Commission


This is an excellent result. Gibraltar and the UK have rightfully asserted the case with the EU for the Gibraltar government to determine its own policies and not be regarded as some little hick region of the UK.

For anyone who doesn't click on the links, the whole issue is about Gibraltar's ability to set its own tax regime, distinct from that of the UK. A judgement against Gibraltar would have resulted in a severe setback on the investment in Gib by financial and gaming companies, affecting local jobs and our economy here.

Interestingly, from the construction side of things, we have seen the reduction in spending - or in some cases downsizing - of some of the financial/gaming companies, as they have recently laid off staff and reduced to minimum office space. Hopefully, the companies that were worried about the impact of this ruling will now regain their confidence in investing in Gib.

It's worth a national holiday. Thanks to the Government of Gibraltar and to the UK for fighting the case - and not least, thanks to the legal team for tackling - and winning against - Euro-bureaucracy.

Edited to add: the holiday declared for the 5th January 2009 has now been moved to 12 January.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Diary of a holiday

So, finally talked Partner into taking a week off work.

Day 1 (Monday)

He unloaded the Land Rover of all the junk as it had become something of a separate store room. He made endless trips from Queensway, up through Ragged Staff, along Main Street, and up to the flat, as there were no available parking spaces outside the flat. He then dumped it all into our junk room in the flat which should really be our kitchen. One day.

Day 2

Set off at nearly the appointed time. Drove up - nice weather, beautiful drive, arrived home about 3pm. Started cleaning patio, white goods, sink, coffee machine, toilet, sweep and mop floor. At some point grab sandwich.

Discover router for internet connection is not working so felt very cut off from the world. Rang Telefonica for a new one. It wouldn't arrive for a week, so demand rebate for unused time. Tried to persuade man to get it sent sooner. Suspect router is pre-programmed to fail shortly after warranty is up, (all computer stuff is surge-protected). Man from Telefonica told me he was sorry but I had expired last month. Quite possibly.

Went down to electrical shop in village that sells slightly damaged white goods as fridge had packed up weeks ago. Spot a couple that are ok so decided to come back in morning to look in daylight and make final choice.

Walk dog round block and go to see English neighbours who live nearby. Agree to go back - without dog, as they have a cat - for a chat and a catch-up with news.

Far too busy a day, so start food - but retire to bed - leaving Partner to finish it off and serve it up to me in the four-poster. Hehe.

Day 3

Stagger out onto street with old fridge. Mop floor where fridge had been.

Set to tidying the front terrace with a vengeance. Partner rips off the covering so we can put up some new stuff later on. I sweep up all dead leaves and rip out dead plants. Every time he makes a mess pulling down the brittle cane covering, I sweep that up too. Cut down prolific jasmine that seems to have decided to create a green carpet.

When electro shop opens, some two hours or so later, shoot down there to buy new fridge. Horrors! Can't use it for 24 hours. No cold beer until next day. Depressed Partner. Put fridge in back of Land Rover and drive home. Stagger up steps to terrace with some difficulty and drop it on the last step. Much swearing.

Resume terrace revamp. Sandwich called for mid-morning. Partner stops work to chat to a Spanish neighbour and is informed if he wants to chat he needs to work at the same time. Continue at same frenetic pace filling endless bags of garden rubbish. Watch with interest when someone collects fridge from side of skip and puts it on top of their vehicle. Good recycling.

Partner cycles into town to book Land Rover into auto-electrical garage and dog into vet for rabies jab. Cinders continues working on the terrace. Fall into bed but wake up later to cook lentil dahl and hot curried potatoes.

Day 4

Wake up and both feeling slightly groggy. Fill selves full of strong black coffee and feel even worse. Feeble Cinders also has aching muscles. Finishes off remaining small part of terrace. Takes all morning to not do much. Partner mops out kitchen.

Gets back into Spanish routine and decide to eat at lunchtime. Pod beans, boil potatoes, trim artichokes and boil them for evening salad.

Partner tidies up chicken shed, rakes straw, refills drinkers, tops up food. Chill out on terrace after lunch playing cards in the sun. Hmmm. Much better way to spend a holiday. Buy cheap veg from man in van who arrives late afternoon.

Day 5

The boys are up at stupid o'clock as usual. Finally work out this is because Pippa can hear our cockerel. I set the alarm ring tone on the mobile to a cockerel sound, which sounds too real. So clearly when Pippa hears El doodledooing away in the morning he knows it is time to get up.

Partner takes LR into garage. Just misses bus back so walks. Meanwhile I have decided the most important thing to do is to cook lunch as we could be spending an awful lot of time in town, so a ready lunch on return will be A Good Thing.

We all walk in. The boys go to the vet and I go to the electricity company to say I have not had a bill, I do not want to be cut off, so please can I pay. Walk the long way round to the leccy company as feeling brain dead. It is now shut to the public. I need to go to the next town along. Er, no, not today.

Stagger back into town and buy three surge protectors and four artichokes. Discover auto electrian doesn't know if they will able to get the bit for the LR today. All walk home, eat lunch (a good move there to prepare it in advance), and sit on terrace playing cards again as a reward for our efforts. Dog and I are exhausted so we go to sleep. Partner grills pimientos for tea - dressing already prepared by me in my super duper advance planning mode.

Day 6

Fiesta. Día de la Constitución. Wash dining room floor. Slop wash windows. Put on washing, hang it out. Cook and eat lunch. Not had roast potatoes for ages as oven in flat does not work. Yummy. Nice sunny day ..... cards on terrace. Partner rings work to tell them the LR is still in the garage, so he won't be back for Monday.

Day 7

Supermarkets are open because of the double fiesta (6th and 8th Dec) and the Spanish can't manage three days in a row without shops. Partner cycles into town for provisions leaving me mopping yet another floor. Decide to find something to do in the garden which is more interesting.

Man in street is putting up signs in street indicating no parking tomorrow for a duathlon. Means we have to move the 3/4 ton trailer by hand to .. somewhere?

Day 8

The day of the duathlon - cyclecross/running. It is pissing it down. The washing is still on the line, so half of it is soaked, namely my clothes. Guess who hung out the washing? Not me. Partner's stuff is all dry under the partial roof.

We dismantle the trailer, putting the box on the pavement, and pull the trailer round the street and stick it on our path. Race starts around 11 am. Runners/cyclists look wet and muddy. Get bored with watching it. Go to bed, eat late and feel gloomy.

Day 9

Last day, the sun is shining but we have a load of things to do this morning. Collect LR and go supermarket. Pay water bill and point out they actually owe me money due to over-estimated readings. Of course, they can't actually give me money back, just send me very small bills. Hmmmm.

Next stop, garage to top up for journey back, buy new bottle of gas, and take the address down from the leccy company of the new agency.

Go to hunt down elusive agency. Had got vague directions from someone in British bar so parked up and set off on the hunt. Finally found it - heaving. Full of pushchairs. Took ticket, number 18 - currently on number 5. A long wait. Went back to give progress report to the boys and tried to wriggle out of it but was sent back. Finally get copy of missing bill but have to pay it at a post office.

Next stop tax office to buy a form to submit our wealth tax. Drive off to the other end of town to park up. Walk to tax office, pay my 50 cents (for the form, not the tax) and go back to the boys.

Last stop - post office in first town (easier to park relatively near), to pay leccy bill. My ticket number - 67. Current number - 27. Fortunately there were a few no shows. Wandered back via veg shops but nothing new or interesting. Money in Spain - or at least Andalucía - is tight, with many people out of work, and they can't afford to pay premium prices for new season veg. In twelve months, the price of artichokes has gone from 1.95€ to 2.95€.

This is the day that Telefonica promised to send me the router. Ring them twice but no result.

Day 10

Back to Gib. Up early, and hugely organised. Tick off all the things on the things to do/take list and feeling very smug. ETD 10 am. Ready five or ten minutes before. Ring Telefonica one last time. Which took so long that departure time slipped to 10.30am.

And no joy from Telefonica either.

Classic quote from Partner over the holiday:

"Oh, it's probably good that the router has stopped working - we can get lots of things done."

We played lots of cards I suppose.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Just a quick note to say that I have been in Spain for the past however long.

But sadly when we arrived the router was not working.

Some of our neighbours told us there had been a lot of electricity surges and power cuts recently - often happens in severe rain.

It's probably equally likely though that the router was programmed to self-destruct shortly after the warranty finished.

Or as the guy from Telefonica said on the 'phone: "You expired last month madam."

Anyway despite his promises that I would receive a new one the following week, I didn't.

Three 'phone calls later, still no result, so headed back to Gib. Where all appears well. And I can indulge in catching up.

Oh, and at the local library where I called on the days I was in town, two out of three computers had an avería - broken down. And of course there was always someone on, and I was too busy to sit around waiting for them to finish faffing around.

So more posts later about my exciting holiday..........

Monday, December 01, 2008

Good news, bad news

Congratulations to Gibtelecom for reintroducing an apprenticeship scheme.

I am all in favour of young people getting skills and qualifications through an apprenticeship programme.

Apparently the last telecommunications apprenticeships were in 1981 - 25 years ago, when three apprentices were taken on. This year Gibtelecom has taken on eight.

But wait. A careful look at the picture shows eight men. Not a single woman. Why am I not surprised?

Disappointed yes, but not surprised.

This is not a criticism of Gibtelecom. I have no idea of whether any women applied.

And that is the problem. Women are still expected to go for gender traditional jobs - and being a telecommunications engineer isn't one of them.