Builders, Buggered Computers, Chutney and a Mega Sulk 01.10.2015

We had a visit from our builders front man, Abdellah, this morning in response to a message that Garrath had left on his ansafone. Abdellah is a charming Moroccan man who started with the firm, Monasor, at the lowest level, worked his way up and when he injured his back and could no longer do heavy work the firm valued him so much that they kept him on as their chief negotiator.

We have had lots and lots of work done by Monasor and found them to be 100% reliable with both the quality of their work and their timekeeping. When we had a huge project done (converting the balcony to a room and having supporting structures built) they said that it would be completed by the end of July and Lo and behold, we got the phone call the week before telling us to come out because it would be finished on July 31st, which indeed it was.

We learned long ago that you never tell Abdellah what to do. You tell him what the objective is and he tells you the best way to achieve it. The thing is that he is always right. When we have the balcony enclosed and made into a room we had said that he should fill a window space with shelves. He took an executive decision and walled it in so that we can get furniture on both sides and he was right, so right.

This time the objective is to improve the lighting in the two bedrooms, the bathroom and the kitchen. We told him the objective and he gave us the solutions so we spent much of the day searching for and buying the necessary lights for the bedrooms and the kitchen. The bathroom light Monasor will provide and they will be embedded into the false ceiling that they are to build tomorrow. See, we hadn’t thought of that but Abdellah, bless him, did!

Garrath had promised to go down to Keith’s house to sort out a computer problem. It happens everywhere we go. As soon as they find out what Garrath does for a living, out come the computer problems and off he goes into the inner sanctum wherein lives the computer, guardian of all precious info and gateway to all valued personae, to try to solve it.

Garrath doesn’t mind sorting Keith’s stuff one bit. They have been very good friends to us keeping an eye on the house while we are away, taking photos of building works and sending them, giving invaluable advice and being fine company when we are here.

After the visit from Abdellah and Garrath’s Doctor Megabyte act, we assembled the new Food processor and I got on with preparing the Chuck It In Chutney. Actually this batch is fig, lemon and chilli – lots and lots of chilli so I think I will label it Salsa Volcanica. My Mermelada Volcanica (hot chilli jam) proved very popular so we will see how well the hot fruit & chilli chutney goes.

The new food processor is pure magic, very efficient and brilliantly designed. It finely sliced five onions in a breath and chopped half a kilo of chillies in seconds. Yes, you read that right, half a kilo of red chillies in this chutney. I don’t do bland! It’s assistance made the chutney preparation the easiest it has ever been because I have always had to do all the chopping by hand before. OK, taking the green tops off 1/2 a kilo of chillies was no fun, about 8 on The Kumquat Scale, but what the heck?

I can sense you asking

“What on Earth is The Kumquat Scale?” Well, I have done lots of boring tasks in my time but far and away the most boooooooooooooring is the preparation of Kumquats for preserving. They are tiny, ovoid citrus fruits and each fruit can contain up to seven pips, so they have to be cut in half across their equator and each all the seeds carefully extracted. When you have to prepare five kilos of Kumquats thus (a kindly, rather contradictory donation by the neighbour who always asks why I make so much work for myself by making preserves) you truly understand what boredom is all about. So when it comes to measuring how boring a task is we use the Kumquat scale. 0 is neutral, 1 mildly dull right up to 10 which is mind numbingly, excruciatingly boring. It is a useful scale to have, especially when it comes to preparing ingredients for chutney and attending Valuation Tribunal training days. Topping those chillies was a mere eight, preparing Nisperos (Loquats) a dreadfully dreary and hand staining task, is a nine, the last Valuation Tribunal training day was nine point five. Maybe for the next training day I should take along a few kilos of Kumquats to prepare then the training sessions will be fascinating by comparison?

I have yet to devise a scale for measuring how interesting something is. I am inclined to call it The Professor Brian Cox scale With Prof Cox as a rivetingly, fascinating ten and the Valuation Tribunal trainers as a big, fat zero! That’s it, I have devised it so if you note me describing somebody as an eight on the Professor Brian Cox scale you will know that they are worth spending time with.

Back to chutney! We cooked the lemons in a pressure cooker until really soft then I carefully removed all the pips – seven point five on The Kumquat Scale – and pureed them using the whizzy stick (stick blender.) All fresh ingredients were added to the preserving pan, sugar and vinegar added and the whole lot brought to the boil – about ten litres in all. It was lunch time so we switched off the induction hob , covered the unfinished chutney and went to the local cheapie that understands my needs very well and had a very satisfactory lunch. Grilled vegetables for me instead of French fries of course, I am the unwilling consumer of a healthy alternative. I did get a dessert though, Arroz Con Leche con Canela (chilled rice puddling with cinnamon) and that covered my need for carbohydrates.

On the way back Garrath insisted on calling in at the local watering hole so that he could top up the mifi. I was cross about this as we had previously agreed to go straight home. He compounded my annoyance by having a beer when I, as the driver, was stuck with having water, so I did what any reasonable woman would do, I sulked. You know, the classic, no eye contact, answer only in monosyllables, tight lipped kind of sulk. When he asked what was wrong I gave the standard woman-in-a-sulk answer,

“Nothing” issued in tone that would have done justice to Hitler. I don’t apologise for my classic sulk. I reserve the right to have one whenever Garrath pisses me off right royally. He can sulk for Britain when I piss him off so fair’s fair.

When we got back Garrath suggested that we stay in so that I could complete the chutney boiling. Gee thanks Garrath. My reacion was to say,

“F*ck that for a game of soldiers, it is too late,” so I simply brought it up to the boil to sterilise it, covered it with cling film and insisted on walking back down to the local watering hole.

I started writing this blog while we were there and fully intended to finish and post it from before we left, but our gardener, Perran, lately the father of a very, very new baby boy Aron, arrived so we just had to help him celebrate didn’t we? And we did, very assiduously. That’s why the blog is so late!