In November I celebrated my 70th birthday - and pretty well, too, actually. As the New Year looms on the horizon, I have decided that it will be the opportunity to demonstrate that 70 is simply a number, not a landmark nor a rite of passage.
I'll sort out the details as the year unfolds, but I think I might manage to stay with this year's resolution.


A Picture Tells A Thousand Words

 In which case, this album of photos submitted for the 2010 competition organised by the website of Noticias Frigiliana, should save several hours of reading - a pictorial guide to Frigiliana!



Happy Christmas

I wish a very Happy Christmas to anyone reading this post.


Lucky For Some

Photo from MSN.com site
Today is the first day of Christmas here in Spain. It is the day of El Gordo, the huge Christmas lottery. All over Spain television sets were switched on at 8 am as a succession of children from a Madrid school called out the winning numbers and the value of the prize. Wherever you find yourself within earshot of a set, the chant "Cincuenta y uno, tres cientos, cuarenta y ocho", "Miiiiil eeuurooos!" continues for the best part of five hours until some 1800 numbers have been drawn and an early Christmas present has been conjured up for many times that number of people. A 'bote' or full ticket costs 200€, but most tickets are sold as 'decimos' (one tenth of a ticket) at 20€ each. Often friends will club together to share a decimo.
A ticket bears a five digit number, yielding a possible 99,999 combinations, but each number is sold many times over. In Málaga, for instance, ticket number 15548 had been sold forty times. It drew one of eight fifth prizes, delivering some 2 million euros into the Perchel district of the city. The same number had been sold elsewhere in Spain as well of course, so that set of five digits brought joy to many more people. Each 'bote' receives the full, fifth prize of 5,000€ which is then shared between the holders of decimos of that ticket.
The winning ticket this year - El Gordo - (79250) was worth 3,000,000€ and thirteen of these tickets were sold, giving a first prize total of 39,000,000€. You can see how it mounts up, and why this is a day when not very much gets done - except by the TV crews rushing to interview winners in pueblos or barrios where the big tickets have been sold.
Oh, and Christmas draws to a close on 6th January which is not only the Feast of the Three Kings, but also the occasion of the other Christmas mega-lottery, El Niño; must remember to get my decimo!


Into Each Life.........

........... a little rain must fall. And right now, it's our turn. Coming back from coffee in a local bar a few minutes ago, I encountered a particularly large and heavy lump of rain which promptly converted the stepped alleyway from the main street up to our front door into a very creditable imitation of a waterfall. Fortunately, I had gone out suitably dressed in my African bush hat which kept the downpour off my glasses (rain is usually not accompanied by wind, and so falls vertically.), my waterproof jacket, waterproof trousers and - most importantly - my wellies. So I just climbed nonchalantly through it and am now sitting warm and dry in my living room.


Crack-down Approaches

Five years ago the Spanish government introduced a ban on smoking in public places - as did many other countries around that time. Of course, being Spain it wasn't quite so clear cut. Although smoking was banned in all indoor workplaces, places of entertainment, shops, hotels, bars and restaurants, and other enclosed places, not to mention public transport, owners of bars and restaurants with a floor area of 100 sq metres or less were permitted a discretion; they could decide along with their customers whether to apply the ban or not. This is why you could be forgiven for thinking that there is no such ban in Spain. The great majority of bars/restaurants were, or considered themselves to be, less than 100 sq metres, and the owners quite correctly presumed that their smoking customers would prefer to carry on as usual.

 Not, however, for very much longer. A revised law has now passed all its hurdles and will come into effect on January 2nd 2011. Smoking will then be completely prohibited in all enclosed public spaces - defined as "all places accessible to the public or for common usage, whether publicly or privately owned." The only concessions are that hotels may set apart 30% of their rooms for smokers, as long as they are completely separated from the remaining rooms (probably, 'smoking floors'), and the outdoor areas of prisons, psychiatric clinics and centres for the elderly or disabled.

 It will be interesting to see how it goes.


The Joys Of Technology

First thing this morning I booted up my laptop and opened my satnav software. I then removed a new map set which had steadfastly refused to install on Monday after I had downloaded it, and then began the download all over again. Spain does not have the fastest broadband connections and my maps cover the whole of Europe, so I kicked my heels throughout the mroning, occasionally returning to the machine to ensure that the download was still going smoothly. In the meantime I made a batch of dough, put it to prove and then baked a loaf - yes, the download took all that time and more. Eventually, at 1.30pm, I removed the loaf from the oven, and returned to the laptop where the download had just completed.
A few seconds elapsed and then a box appeared on=screen: Error. Cannot install maps. That's what happened the first time! So that's now nine hours in total trying, unsuccessfully, to update my maps. It's particularly galling because I have a subscription which entitles me to four major updates a year.
I can't help recalling that in the days before satnav, I used to buy a new road atlas every three or four years. I still seemed to reach my destination the vast majority of times.