Being Busy, Oily & Sweaty, Seaside Lunch, More Business.

I was up earlier than Garrath as usual (06.50) so I set upon a new preserving adventure, making Moroccan style preserved lemons and limes. It is simple enough. All you have to do is stuff the fruit with salt (posh, coarse sea salt) then stuff them hard (the more squashed in the better) into jars and topping the jar up with lemon/lime juice. You are supposed to turn the jars once a week but we can’t because we won’t be here, but we shall see. It it works it is the perfect, saleable comestible for the excess of lemons and limes that the trees are producing. Apparently you can preserve Kumquats in the same way which might be tempting but since Kumquat chutney is THE most delicious chutney ever, I doubt if I will do that.

Today was designated the clearing up and preparing to close the house day plus the changing of bank accounts day. The first job was to oil all the oak furniture, a tedious, oily, but very necessary task. We have learned from past experience that it is futile to bathe and get dressed before doing this because it is an intense, messy, sweat inducing-job so you have to bathe again after doing it. So the task was done whilst still wearing jim-jams (PJ’s to my American friends.) We have got it down to a fine art now so it only took one and a half hours, but we were knackered with aching backs afterwards so a hotter, longer bath than usual was called for. Consequently that is exactly what we had.

A few chores later – replacing table covers, seat cushions, books, ornaments; sorting out chutneys and jams to give away; printing out paperwork for the bank and the like – and we were ready to go to lunch. Thinking that this would be our last lunch in Calpe this trip we decided to eat at a restaurant on the Partida La Fossa so that we could enjoy views and sounds of the sea while eating.

Lunch was at La Terraza and it was delightful. I had anchovies with garlic to start while Garrath had a prawn omelette. For the main course I chose Lomo A La Plancha Con Huevo – pork loin with egg – and Garrath chose Albondigas Casera – meat balls house style – and we had a mixed salad to share. We even got a dessert, a chocolate layered ice cream though mine didn’t have the artistically squirted, caramel flavoured goo that Garrath’s had. Why can’t they make gluten free caramel flavoured goo I wonder?

After lunch we meandered along the prom, back to the car then back home to collect a gas bottle that we needed to swap for a full one at the local Ferreteria (hardware shop.) Garrath insisted on taking an alternate route c/o the satnav which involved twists and turns along single track roads with high walls. “It is much shorter,” he assured me but it took twice as long so I have flatly refused to use the stupid route ever again. The ‘discussion’ about it (Garrath always describes his argumentative nature as ‘discussion’ or ‘conversation’) with me bad grumpily declaring,

“Well I’m doing the f*cking driving so I’ll decide what f*cking route we take!” That was well below the belt because Garrath had had his license suspended because of the brain tumours, but sometimes one has to use below the belt tactics to end an argument.

Gas acquired we started distributing some of the chutneys, one lot to the French guys out back from whom we got an invitation to dinner next May, more to Julian and his family, also out back, then to Ula and Jurgen. Tomorrow we have to gift some more to Robert & Marijke and to Keith & Audrey. It is a tradition now. I make jams and chutneys from the garden produce and I give them to neighbours and friends.

The start of the tradition is interesting enough to note here. When first I took on responsibility for the falling down wreck that my mother had abandoned, there was considerable hostility from the neighbours. I was her daughter after all and she had upset most of them, not least by allowing the property to become the neighbourhood eyesore. I knew that I would have an uphill struggle trying to overcome their hostility so I made jam, lots of jam, from the garden produce. I labelled it carefully with the name of the property and at the end of the stay sent Garrath off to give jars to all the neighbours. He was bewildered but I told him to trust me and he did as I had asked. The very next stay the formerly hostile neighbours all came to thank me for the jam – a fine conversation opener – and thus the hostility was dispelled and a tradition established.

Making jams and chutneys is a bit of a bind during a break but sooooooooo worth it when the reception to that simple gesture is friendship, kindness and social interaction.

We had hoped to get into Alicante tomorrow but when we got to the bank we found that it was a typically Spanish long-winded, convoluted process that demands lots and lots of paperwork, some of which we had not predicted would be needed so we have to go in again tomorrow to complete the process. No wonder Luis is jealous of the UK process (see yesterday’s blog.) After one and a half hours we are only half way through opening the bank accounts and it will take three months to transfer the business from our current bank. Hmmmmm, this is Spain after all!

Post bank we had to walk back to the car through an unfamiliar area where the shops were now open and enticingly illuminated. They included a perfume shop. Let me explain. I am now relaxed enough to be able to have days where I don’t wear any make up. We call them NMU (no make up) days. But I describe myself without wearing perfume as being stark naked. I have a whole cupboard full of perfume and I need an equivalent here so it was my moral duty to go in and start the process, which indeed I did.

Bliss, they had all the best designer names and what is more THEY WERE DISCOUNTED! I walked out with two old standards (modern ones are too pink and sugary for my tastes) having enjoyed a significant saving. I’ll be the sweetest smelling old bat in Calpe. I even got freebies, a bit demoralising because it was anti wrinkle stuff but at least I made the saleslady laugh and think a little by saying that I had earned my wrinkles and wear them with pride.

After the drive home and putting goodies away guess what? We trundled down to the local watering hole for our final dose of Spanish anaesthesia.

Life is good!