Friday, March 20, 2009


When stuck for what to eat, beans are always a good choice.

Chilli red beans with rice, and salad.

Refried red beans with flour tortillas, green salad and guacamole.

Sweet and sour red beans with rice - well usually just sour for our taste - and some raw pickle.

Last night we had sour red beans, ie beans with chillis and vinegar - only had balsamic vinegar in the cupboard, but it worked well as it added a slightly sweet flavour without tasting sugary. Couldn't resist chucking in a few more spices though, so it ended up being hot, spicy and sour beans - with rice.

There was a little rice left and a few beans - just right for my lunch today. Except they had been stolen for someone else's breakfast when I was snoozing away.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Top tip (2) - tumble dryers

One of the few downsides of having a large furry dog is that there are large furry piles of dog hair all over the flat.

Living in a warm climate seems to result in a year-round moult. Even when he gets groomed regularly. Well, as regularly as he tolerates.

The throws on his sofa get washed regularly. But inevitably I can't shake all the fur off, so some hairs end up in the washing machine, and then, some end up in the tumble dryer which produces the pleasant aroma of burning dog fur.

Winters may be warm - but they are also wet, and we don't have anywhere undercover to dry the washing, so the 30-year-old tumble dryer from my mother's house has come in surprisingly useful.

It was tumbling away merrily and pumping out the usual slightly acrid smell.

"What's that burning smell?" asked Partner, doing the usual interfering routine.

"It always smells like that. It's dog fur."

Mr Interfering was having none of it.

"It's burning, go and check it," he ordered, despite being nearer than me to the tumbly.

I walked in and smoke was pouring out of the front of the tumble dryer.

I opened the door in horror to stop it and ran out in case it went bang.

It didn't.

Mr Interfering amazingly restrained himself from a smug comment and merely said:

"We need a new one. That can go out tonight."

Some time later he had a flash of inspiration and went to investigate the tumbly.

He came out with a filter thing, rather clogged up with two years worth of dog fur and goodness knows how many years of dust.

If my mother had ever cleaned out the filter I am sure she forgot as she grew older.

"Turn it on again," he ordered.

Why is it always me that has to deal with the dubious electrickery?

I turned it on.

No smoke. Still the left-over burning smell. I agreed to check it out the next day with some proper wet washing.

I did. It worked.

So - when your 30-year-old tumble dryer starts smoking - check out the filter. It could save you forking out for a new tumble dryer. Or maybe I am the only person who didn't even know that tumblies had filters.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Commonwealth Day 2009

Today is Commonwealth Day. In fact this year the Commonwealth celebrates its Diamond Jubilee.

The Commonwealth was established in April in 1949 under the Declaration of London when the heads of state of the UK, Australia, Ceylon, (Sri Lanka) India, New Zealand, Pakistan, and South Africa, and the Canadian secretary of state for foreign affairs reached agreement on the new constitution.

Although the history of the Commonwealth goes back much further, this date marked the beginnings of the modern commonwealth as we know it today, rather than the previous colonial relationship which had emerged from the British Empire.

The meeting in London was triggered by India's desire to adopt a republican form of constitution while still retaining Commonwealth links. The countries concerned agreed that the monarch (King George VI) would be recognised as head of the Commonwealth, and that it was 'a free association .... of independent nations.'

At the same time India removed King George VI as head of state in keeping with its republican aspirations.

After the agreement, the Commonwealth expanded rapidly. Many new nations dropped their colonial status and gained independence, but chose to retain their historic links by joining the Commonwealth. Today the Commonwealth comprises 53 independent states, plus the British Overseas Territories such as Gibraltar.

The head of the Commonwealth is Queen Elizabeth II, who became head when her father died, and she will be attending a special service at Westminster Abbey today.

With nearly two billion people living in the Commonwealth and half of them aged under 25, the theme for this year's message is 'serving a new generation.'

Here in Gibraltar we celebrate with a Bank Holiday, and Chief Minister Peter Caruana has issued his traditional message in keeping with that theme, emphasising the importance of investing in young people for the future of Gibraltar.

Sources: Gibfocus, BBC News, and the Commonwealth web site - which is an excellent source of information here.

Royal Marines exercise their Freedom of the City

Of all the nice wintery days we have here in Gibraltar, it chose to bucket down on the day the Royal Marines marched up Main Street.

Band of the Royal Marines (Scotland)

Royal Marines from Alpha Company, 40 Commando

Veterans from the Royal Marines Association

Given this was the first time since being granted the Freedom of the City that they had exercised it, the weather put a real damper on things.

However it didn't stop people turning out to see them as they rapidly marched from Casemates. They then went to the Convent for a public reception held by the Governor of Gibraltar, Lieutenant General Sir Robert Fulton KBE, who is a Royal Marine.

Guests arriving for the reception at the Convent

The unveiling of the monument at Ocean Village was postponed until the following day - fortunately with much better weather.

The monument with the Royal Marines badge, and the inscription below records the important role of the marines in Gibraltar's history

A close-up of the Royal Marines badge on the monument

Following their visit to Gibraltar the Royal Marines left for the Mediterranean on RFA Mounts Bay to take part in Taurus 09 - a routine deployment of the Royal Navy's Amphibious Task Group.

RFA Mounts Bay

Also moored at The Tower, HMS Blyth, a Sandown class minesweeper, with presumably HMS Ramsey behind. The two ships left Bahrain - after more than two years operational activity - at the end of January for the journey back to Faslane, Scotland.

HMS Blyth

And apart from the weather - there was another less than glorious moment. On the Sunday night, a police officer arrested a Royal Marine for being drunk and disorderly. However the RM then assaulted the police officer, grabbed the officer's baton, and caused injuries to the officer's face and torso.

A taxi driver intervened and the RM was eventually handcuffed when another police officer came to help.

The RM was charge with assaulting a police officer, resisting arrest, and disorderly conduct in a police station. He pleaded guilty to all the charges and was sentenced to one month's imprisonment.

A shameful ending to a weekend of ceremonial events intended to commemorate the close relationship between the Royal Marines and Gibraltar.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Passport numbers - tip for ex-pats

A helpful tip to anyone buying property or contracting services in Spain - eg electricity or telephone - do NOT under any circumstances lose your old passport number.

For example, if you wish to contract Telefonica's ADSL service, ie pay more money over to the company, you will not need to give out a passport number.

However, if you wish to cancel that same service, you WILL need to provide a passport number.

And if you have changed passports in the meantime, you will need to provide the passport number that you originally gave to contract the telephone line in the first place.

Bureaucracy eh? Why am I not surprised that you do not need to provide anything to pay even more money over and yet do need to provide something to cancel a service..........

Much more about this one on Clouds. This is the helpful post - the other is the rant post.