El Pitarra


I’m all right really.

Yes, my feet ache and my hands hurt from my endeavours in the garden, and my back’s playing up a bit, but the evening’s warm enough to sit on the terrace with a glass or three of pitarra, so yes, I’m all right.

Just about every Spanish region has its local drink of which it’s fiercely proud. In Asturias it’s cider, and very good it is too, especially in the heat of summer. The Catalans are proud of their Cava, and very nice too. The Basque Country and Cantabria have a sparkling wine called txakolí which I’m sure is excellent, but since I refuse to drink anything I can’t pronounce even when sober, you’ll have to try that for yourself. ... read more

The Language Of Loaf


I’m not sitting here doing absolutely nothing, even if that’s how it looks. I’m drinking coffee, listening to the mimosa trees buzz with bees, and watching the ants.

Our garden seems to be home to millions of them every year. Most people count them as a pest – as I’m sure they are – but they make fascinating viewing. A two-lane ant highway is currently marching resolutely across the back terrace, the outbound ones empty, those returning each carrying a seed, a husk, or a piece of twig. I’m sure none of them know why they’re doing it, but they do it just the same. I love work – as the saying goes – I could watch it all day. ... read more

The Infection


Sue has some new students arriving today for a session of English speaking practice, so I’ve done the enlightened, supportive, modern-man thing and buggered off in case I’m given a job. That’s why I find myself in my usual cafetería but at the wrong time of day; instead of half-asleep workmen exchanging their grunts and nods over breakfast, this time those around me are the younger, noisier, late-lunch clientèle, each with one eye on his or her conversation partner, and the other on the incoming SMS or email messages on their now indispensible “es-mart-fonn”. ... read more

High Society


I’ve just passed El Miralrio, a gated community of opulent and somewhat vulgar modern mansions on a hillside overlooking the river Guadiana as it flows lazily into Mérida. I can imagine the great and the good – the politicians, financiers, and heads of administration – looking down on us all from this walled citadel as we scurry around trying to find a way to sustain all of their excesses. Just a kilometre or so down the road, though, I find myself gazed down upon from an altogether different high society. ... read more