2016 Spring Trip To Spain – day 9

Yay, what a productive day, 18 jars of Mermelada Nirvana produced and bottled before breakfast. See, there are advantages to waking up at daft o’clock. Actually it wasn’t that daft for me because I was in bed and dead to the world at 09.45 and didn’t get up until 05.00 and that is a very long sleep for me.

Anyway, I didn’t want to lose the freshness of the fruit so I sieved that out, boiled the syrup down, added the fruit, sterilised the jars and lids, achieved a perfect setting point and bottled the jam. I haven’t yet lined up my jammy soldiers for a photograph, but I will!

Garrath made the labels, one with its name – Mermelada Nirvana – and one with the ingredients. Theoretically these were to be in Spanish and the were, mostly, except for the fact that he spelled strawberries the French way! What the hell, the house is in an international area, we have French neighbours, they will get it!

Inordinately pleased with myself (a.k.a. smug) I then had breakfast, ran the bath then promptly fell asleep on the sofa. It had been my intention to rest my aching feet but I went spark out for a full 45 minutes. That made eight hours sleep in total, unheard of for me. I must have needed it. My feet certainly did.

We bathed in leisurely fashion and eventually got ready to take our Dutch friends, Robert and Marijke, out to La Viña De Calpé for lunch. The table was booked for 14:00 and we arrived precisely on time. Lunch was a delight as usual there, very upmarket, and conversation was easy and entertaining.

Robert was born in Indonesia, spent part of his childhood in a Japanese prisoner of war camp with his mother while his father was a prisoner on the Burma railway. Though Dutch by nationality he has spent only eight years of his life in The Netherlands. The rest was spent travelling the world, first in the Dutch Navy, then all around the world working for a German International company. At one time as the company’s representative in Burma, then a closed country, he was an officer in the Burmese Army because that was the only thing that the Burmese government could think of to do with him to give him credibility and authority. Needless to say he is an endless source of stories and anecdotes.

Marijke is equally fascinating. She emigrated to Spain in 1979 and feels more Spanish than Dutch. This, she explains, is because she was escaping a horrendous marriage, and she was emotionally a mess but the Spanish neighbours and townspeople took her under their wings and as she puts it, rescued her. Wandering round Guadalest with her is fun because it is a constant series of meet, greet and gossip with her many, long standing Spanish friends.

Both Robert and Marijke are multilingual as are many Dutch people. They put we monolingual Brits to shame. But, as Frankie, a German friend, once said to me when I apologised for not speaking much German,

“Why bother? English is an international language. Who speaks German? Us, the Austrians and a few Swiss. Who gives a shit?” I still remember that comment every time I witness a stubborn Kraut in Spain ordering food and drink in loud German! No wonder said Krauts look offended, but I am giggling hysterically at my recollection of Frankie’s comment, not just at their boorish behaviour!

Just to make it clear that I do not discriminate against just boorish Germans, I am equally contemptuous at all nationalities who refuse to learn the very basics of the language of the country they are in, even if it is only for brief holiday visits. Upon taking responsibility for my mother’s wreck of a house we very quickly learned the essential basics and to this day we are fluent in all matters relating to building materials, plumbing equipment, electrical repairs, tree surgery, planning regulations, dealing with solicitors, the local authority, the police, architects, gardeners and the like, and we can order drinks, reserve tables at restaurants, explain problems with hire cars, and conduct a passable conversation about football. As for the Spanish for beach – haven’t a clue!!!

After lunch we went to have a cuppas and more chat at Robert and Marijke’s place and to share time with their new dog. Unfortunately I discovered Ticks on Tikus and had to do holding duty while Robert removed them. YUK, I loathe Ticks. They are one of the few creatures that I can see no useful purpose for whatever. Still, I suppose I proved my worth as a friend by doing this odious duty.

We arranged to go for lunch with Robert and Marijke again on Friday then said our goodbyes and walked down to guess where, the Chicken Shack, so that I could record my burblings in the form of this travel blog c/o their free wifi.

All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable day.