(Absolute) Beginners' Spanish - Lesson 1

Perhaps it was the kind of pub I frequented, but I became used in England to hearing someone complaining bitterly about people who 'come over here and don't bother to learn English'. I had a certain sympathy with that point of view.
Maybe that is why today, walking through the old part of the village, I experienced a bout of the red mist on seeing a 3 word sign which managed to accommodate no fewer than five separate mistakes! It was hanging outside a British-run bar; the proprietors have been in occupation for more than enough time to pick up the basics - after all, they have to deal with the town hall over business licensing matters, providers of utilities, wholesalers; all of them Spanish - but appear to have chosen not to bother. Maybe they think that it's not important, as the bulk of their clientele either is British or speaks English. A similar argument by a Bangladeshi cornershop keeper in Yorkshire would cut no ice.

The notice said: "Grande mojito's €5"
Error 1: Even in English, a simple plural does not take an apostrophe.
Error 2: The 'apostrophe s' does not exist at all in Spanish.
Error 3: In Spanish the adjective (grande) follows the noun.
Error 4: Spanish adjectives agree with the noun in both gender and number.
Error 5: In English, the £ sign comes in front of the number, but in Spanish the € follows the number.
Not a bad total out of three words; I suppose it even deserves a little (very) grudging respect.

The notice should read: "Mojitos grandes 5€"


"Home Is Where The Heart Is"

I don't know who it was who said this, but it came to mind when a friend suggested that I have two homes now; the UK the home of my birth and Spain the home of my retirement. I was in the UK on holiday when he said it, so it seemed wise to wait until I was back in Frigiliana, and had pondered his words for a while, before commenting.

The photo that accompanies this posting depicts a childhood holiday destination which awakened in me a lifelong (so far!) love of the English Lake District. It shows "Seldom Seen" an extremely aptly named row of lead miners' cottages in a hanging valley above Ullswater. It's at the end of a rough lane, about a kilometre from the road. No more clues; those of us who have seen it are keeping the secret. I took the photo two weeks ago, but it looks exactly as it did in the 1950's when we used to go there each summer for a two week holiday. I moved on to youth hostelling and subsequently walked pretty much all of the Lake District, including siting on all three of the highest summits, which I have to admit were modest by comparison with La Sierra Tejeda behind me.

So, is my friend right? The appeal of England nowadays is linked to the presence of my family and a small number of close friends. To that may be added one place - the aforementioned Lake District. Beyond this? Nothing, I'm afraid. I'm not going to indulge the ex-pat's litany of complaints about the country I was born and grew up in.

But I am sitting here at my computer in Frigiliana - and I'm home. This is it. Just the one! Sorry, Jaan.


Late Christmas Present

My wife and I are over in the UK at the moment, escaping from the hottest of the Frigiliana weather. It may seem strange that we came here for the sun (among many, many other things) and now run away from it. But that is not to appreciate August. Nothing happens in August. Two years ago on 31st July, we went to the notario to complete the purchase of our new home. The following day our lawyer and all her staff went on holiday for a month; so did the builder we had lined up for the renovation work. So did just about everyone. Workwise, nothing happens in August; it's just too hot. So we are in the UK enjoying weather which to permanent residents represents yet another disappointing summer.

It also gave us the opportunity to enjoy our Christmas present from our youngest daughter - a forty minute floatation session, followed by a light meal, followed by a one hour, whole body massage. It was fantastic! Drifting on a very slow current around a large circular pool in a dimly-lit room with twinkling 'stars' set into the ceiling. Then after supper, a systematic massage of one muscle group after another. I remember thinking at one point: "There's a leg being massaged over there.... it could be one of mine."

If you are reading this from somewhere in reach of the Wokingham/Reading area, then I can thoroughly recommend a day or an evening at the Nirvana Spa in Sindlesham (http://www.nirvanaspa.co.uk).

So, fully destresed we'll be back home next week in good time for the next high spot of the year; the Festival of 3 Cultures. Can hardly wait!