Sunday, December 31, 2017

Happy New Year!!!

Massive palm tree, Metropol Parasol in the background, read on.

This is Ryan's post about their visit with us and other friends in Freiburg. Great picture of him and Bruce.

Thwarted Christmas dinner, or when even careful planning goes amiss. I asked Ryan to contact the local butcher to get a pork roast, meaning to stuff it, he ordered for pick up Saturday. Turkeys can be found but large cured hams like we get in North America cannot, or at least no one here seems to be able to find them. Go to the butcher on Saturday and it is a zoo, just as we did, everyone else did too, poor fellow was so busy! Bruce gets to the counter and he asks for the roast, said pork roast three times, not understood I guess because we brought home a cooked beef roast and a tin of gravy. Pepe stopped by for a Christmas drink and he confirmed that Bruce had the words correctly but he said “that just happens sometimes” What? Well we’ll be fed and the beef is tasty because I opened it’s package to see what we actually had bought. (Read on, it was pork!)

Pepe showed us pictures of his recent trip to Marrakesh, Morocco and it looks to be very exotic, colourful, gritty and chaotic, Bruce said he’d be booking a ticket for next week if he didn’t have mobility issues. I’ve read bloggers stories and their opinions swing from loving it to hating it. We were glad Pepe had a good time there, he said it was like Sevilla about twenty years ago. His brother is in town so he took a bottle of Clamato juice to introduce him to a red eye, Bruce said hah! we’re converting Spaniards, well on a very small scale for sure. 

From my Christmas message mentioning dried sage I received an offer from a lady I know on the Coast to mail me some! Isn’t that in the Christmas spirit!  

I received so many lovely responses to the blog from friends for Christmas, it fills my heart! Thank you!

Christmas lunch worked out well, it was a pork roast, including gravy the butcher put in, well seasoned and we used the raclette grill to warm it, I thought the oven might dry it out. Stuffing done in the oven, not very traditional, included orange juice and rind, but tasted good. Mashed potatoes sent Ryan into heaven, hasn’t had them in a while, done with butter and cream. They brought a tasty mixture of snow peas, garlic and soy sauce, a perfect sharper mix to the lunch/dinner. 

There should be a name for lunches in Spain that transcend to dinners, brunch is a good word for breakfast and lunch, no word that I know of for what happens here.

I am good with a knife, can’t remember when I have cut myself with one, but a grater, well, not the same story, two grate marks on my fingers, not great, hah pun intended. 

That fancy, Dyson vacuum cleaner we bought? Doesn’t work well, battery life on it is shorter than advertised half hour, Rocio couldn’t even finish doing the couch before it conked out. She said it was cumbersome to use. So being rather expensive, it’s going back to the store. I was dreading this experience but it turned out well. I typed on my phone, translated and handed it to the clerk. He didn’t say anything but rang it through. Had an orange juice at our favourite little cafe and the owner of it recognized me and asked if we live near by, that’s always a nice thing. The cafe is a French one called Colette,

Saturday the 30th and a sunny, warm day so we go to the top of the Setas, Metropol Parasol. 

One of the 360 degree views, I took many more pictures, but into the sun, not good...
Been meaning to do that all the time we’ve been here, finally done! I actually had a bit of vertigo, don’t know why really, ramps are wide with high guard rails. The nice people at the entry booth saw Bruce’s chair, pulled us to the front of the line and issued us free tickets to go up. 

Beautiful tile work on the side of a church.
Had Japanese lunch first and good thing too, after we were looking around to have a drink at a patio and there wasn’t a table to be found! Couldn’t even see some of the restaurants, just the crowds of people with drinks in hand. We did find a table but were told we couldn’t have it and couldn’t at the moment figure out why, no indication it was reserved or people had left it temporarily. Sitting at home and I remembered Alonzo saving us a table when it was busy, we’d wait at the sidelines until one came free and he’d wave anyone else off who wanted it. Hah, mystery solved. Whole town was out with all their relatives, strolling along, not walking, mind, strolling, sloooowly, in family groups taking up the sidewalks. I remember Angela and Ryan coming to our table at our old local and almost begging for a seat, must have been this time of year, they’d been all over and couldn’t find an empty spot. Now if we are going out for lunch with them, we arrive early, get a table, otherwise people wait outside the tables and stare hungrily at you to guilt you into leaving. Custom here is that you enjoy your time, line up or not.

Well that's a wrap of this post and 2017. Wishing you a happy and prosperous 2018!

Cheers, Bev, Bruce and Lexi Cat

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Merry Christmas!

Our bits of decoration, I know, certainly didn't go "full out".
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you! Wishing you all the best for 2018!

We haven’t really been doing much lately but this Friday we bought a nifty Dyson vacuum cleaner for Rocio, she will need the manual to figure out the five attachments but it will make her cleaning time here much easier, getting rid of cat hair that replaces most people’s dust bunnies. 

Nice day and we’re having the vacuum delivered so hands free we had a coffee at a fav little cafe, then moved on to Plaza de la EncarnaciĆ³n under the Setas or the Metropol Parasol. We have been on a hunt for dried sage, salvia in Spanish, to spice up our Christmas lunch. It’s not an herb that is used often here but found some in the market. A couple were buying up the vegetable and fruit stand, obviously locals that shop there a lot, lots of teasing between the proprietor and them, we waited patiently for our less than  €5 purchase. Stopped at a Japanese restaurant and had a great lunch. There were many Japanese people inside so that’s usually a good indication food will be decent. Shared a Sapporo beer which was good and it’s been years since I’ve had one. 

Nice day out! Walked back to the flat through streets we hadn’t been down before with red streamers crossing the narrow street, past stores that had interesting themes, closed for lunch, past a couple of upmarket seafood restaurants. 

Note the next few pictures were mostly shot through windows, not great, but included anyway.
Hats and accessories for them
Door of the shop.
This doesn't do justice, it was beautiful!
Cute? Ugly? I don't know but captivating.
Door to a curio or antique shop.
Huge fish! Terrible picture, I asked permission and didn't want to push my luck taking another.
A church band played in the Museo Plaza the evening of December 22. They are pretty good, likely due to the numerous music schools here in Sevilla. A joy to hear! I remember last year, they played the night we had moved into our new flat and it felt like a welcome to the neighbourhood. This time of year you can stumble on many bands either practicing in plazas or in the evening providing a full concert as they move through the streets. Oh, and they aren't wearing street clothes, they wear full uniform including hats.

Bruce likes to give Lexi a kitty massage, mostly under the chin and around the head. Well she loves it but this time she got over stimulated and acted like crazy cat for an hour after, jumping around, sideways like she’s seen a ghost, tail fluffed to double the normal size, ears back, running from room to room with no intention. Hmm, probably not a good idea to over stimulate but she does have fun. Smart, inquisitive is she, Bruce had liquorice ropes in a package on the table (from British Shop), I watched her select one with her paw and drag it out to chomp on it. Now if it does to cats what it does to humans I’m very glad I stopped her in time or, well, let’s not go there.

All for now, Cheers, Bev, Bruce and the crazy Lexi Cat

Monday, December 11, 2017

Enjoying Sevilla and Good and Very Bad Cooking

Here's Lexi, on Bruce's shoulder, something she did on their first meeting and continues.
I made stew, guess it’s good, well I like it, Bruce does too and called it beef bourguignon. Helps that the meat was good from the butcher, I partially used a recipe and then went my own way with it. Bruce has difficulty standing at the stove for lengthy periods of time right now so I’ve taken over the cooking duties. He has always done the cooking so now it’s payback time. I’m actually enjoying it, always have, so does he, but he’s a different kind of cook than I am. I take a recipe, or two, and modify by taste and what’s in the cupboard. 

Vegetable from our local shop and a splash of red wine, usually drink it not eat it but made a difference!
I’ve been cooking since about ten years old and using what was in the pantry. We had our own meat, vegetable and fruit off the farm so those were my only available ingredients, good variety and fresh or fresh frozen, nothing “fancy”, but good.

Pepe said we had permission to install ramps in the atrium to ease Bruce’s journey across it so Juan, same carpenter as last year, spent a couple of days making and installing those in wood. They work well until the cleaners move them and don’t put them back. Juan does generate a lot of sawdust and Rocio looked at the staircase last week and shook her head in mock disgust, told her to wait until he’s done. She agreed to iron our shirts for us, yes, we’ve been living wrinkled for a long time now but did appreciate the ironing Gilbert did for us in Amsterdam so asked her, now you’ll only see wrinkles in our faces, lucky you. Small things make me happy these days.

It is getting colder here and if there is a breeze, well you know … so our haunting of cafes has lessened considerably. Although we were at one in the early afternoon and a wedding party went by. What I mean by that is not the bride and groom, but the attendees. Wow, as I’ve said before people really dress for weddings here! Most women wear hats, over their curled and heavily styled hair (bizarre looking hats in my opinion, but that’s just me) high heels, and lovely dresses, they also cling onto their partner’s arms, or women go in two’s or threes, so as not to stumble on the uneven cobblestones.

Heard a strange noise at 7 am outside the window, fellow in a cherry picker crane installing these on our street.
Wednesdays are THE day for appointments, we start with Rocio, cleaning and Angel, Bruce’s massage at 10:00 and it seems we usually have one or two appointments after that, next week it’s hair for me and dentist for Bruce. Other weeks it’s been the carpenter or computer fellow. Well at least we are accomplishing things and a routine is established, not very interesting to tell you about really.

Cooking disaster! Maybe disaster is too strong a word, failure would be better. We’d bought a cauliflower with the idea to pickle it with Ivan’s uncle’s olives, more on that in a bit. Didn’t make it to his Uncles, it was Wednesday, see above. So with it sitting in the fridge for a few days and neither of us wanting to eat it raw, it was time to either pitch it or cook it in some fashion to make it tasty to us both. My attempt at cauliflower soup failed miserably probably due to using Moroccan spice which was too heavy a spice for it and my use of about three recipes, well, all I can say is the twain did not meet. Oh well, I did lighten the load in the fridge and it all got tossed. Bruce was kind and honest, didn’t say it tasted like shite but came close. Guess I need the occasional cooking failure to stay humble. 

Today is Immaculate Conception day and a public holiday so many families are out and crowding up cafes and the start of Christmas craziness, as with most of the rest of the world.

Another type of Christmas decoration.
Ivan’s Uncle “makes” his own olives. He takes raw olives and brines them and adds spices. 
Ivan's picture see the garlic!
We didn’t get to see the process, it was Wednesday, so Ivan brought us a jar, complete with garlic and I think thyme used for spice. They are large, split, pit still in, and very yummy!

Olives are split by putting them through this contraption, important to get the spices through.

Just don’t breathe on anyone after eating, garlic breath for sure.

Nuestra Senora De Las Mercedes, Chapel of our Lady of Mercy

Under construction and finally finished but never seems to be open, do read the links, for good explanations. 

All for now, Cheers, Bev, Bruce and the shoulder decorating cat Lexi