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Is this still available? Why do people ask that of online sellers and then not pursue the inquiry?

Because we have recently been clearing out what was our old house, now vacated by Betony and family, we have had quite a few things to get rid of.  We’ve made several trips to  charity shops (and the tip) but some items are simply too valuable to go via that route.

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So, as it’s worked for us before, I have been listing quite a few items on Facebook’s Market Place.  These are then shared with various other Facebook Groups to widen and localise the spread.

However, I’ve had an uncounted number of “Is this still available?” messages, all of which I have replied to.  At first, I would give them my phone number and ask for them to text me (or send a direct message; DM), to discuss the need for further contact details – I now simply say ‘Yes – are you still interested?”. 9.5 times out of ten there is no answer.  At all.  Why?

Where a sale has been agreed, the sale has gone off without a hitch and some things have ‘gone’.  However, we do still have a number of things that really need re-homing soon.

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Local Charities:

https://www.kirkwoodhospice.co.uk/

https://www.forgetmenotchild.co.uk/our-shops

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All credit to artist – stolen by me from FB

 

 

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I can’t say that we were over impressed with Jerez.  Sadly, because I had built up a fairly high impression of what it would be like, I was quite disappointed. I expected a gentility that simply wasn’t there (imho).

Jerez de la Frontera is:

  1. Home to the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art, which, according to Wikipedia, is one of the four greatest schools of horsemanship in the world.
  2. Host to an International Grand Prix circuit, used for MotoGP, F1, F2 and World Superbike championships.
  3. Home for most of the world’s sherry producers and the spiritual home to one of the biggest producers, Gonzalez Byass.

 Yet, despite all this, it appeared to me to be run down and dirty.

I accept that Jerez is a very old city, with a rich and varied history, but, despite the prestige and money those international events/producers bring into the city, along with tourists, it wears an air of neglect.  We have visited several old cities in Spain with equally rich and varied histories but they have been cleaner and their buildings have, to a large extent, been or are being maintained. I’m thinking here of Salamanca, Avila, Toledo, Cordoba and Segovia – none have the aforementioned air of neglect and yet, all have similarly long and unique histories.

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unpleasant tapas

The old town’s main square and streets off it, house the restaurants and bars that provide food and drink for tourists and locals alike.  Certainly, the town comes alive at night with tables popping up where none were to be seen at lunchtime.  We chose badly at lunchtime; presented with what were probably the worst tapas we’ve ever eaten: Over vinegared Ensalada Rusa (why vinegar? Why?), Queso that began to sweat in the heat, tab-end sized Croquetas (with soggy fries for garnish) and a fairly tasty piece of ‘Lomo’ in sherry sauce – covered with soggy fries again.

Our evening meal was better.IMG_1823 copy

Sharon had spent a bit of time on Trip Advisor and had come up with a number of options for us to dine at.  I put the first one (top of the list) into MapsDotMe and off we went.  Sharon saw something on the menu that she liked and I knew I would find something, so we stopped there – there was no point dragging ourselves around the town. Bar Juanito looked to be a nice place, and it was – see my review on Trip Advisor.

Before eating lunch, we’d decided to take the tourist bus-trip (City Sightseeing Jerez) which for €17 also includes a tour of the Bodegas Tio Pepe, the home of Gonzalez Byass in Jerez.  The bus trip itself was interesting enough, and explained much of Jerez’s history.  One fact that stuck with me was that many years ago (perhaps hundreds?) the city fathers allowed people to erect buildings alongside the more ancient city walls.  The idea being that this would help to preserve and protect those walls.  However, as we were driven past, I noticed that the buildings that had been erected are also falling into disrepair.  It’s sad that a city of this note and with this heritage cannot be better looked after.

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Our trip around Bodegas Tio Pepe was interesting and by far the more entertaining time of our trip. It is followed by a tasting of Tio Pepe itself and of Croft Original.

Our hotel had been chosen for its position, its price and its description on Booking dotcom.  Although we’d booked and paid to visit the Jeys Catedral Jerez, the hotel seemed to be called Hotel Belles Artes (as well?) – see my review on Trip Advisor.

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Following on from my previous post about my mum’s fading memory – https://saturdaywalks.wordpress.com/2017/05/04/memory-test/ today was the day we visited the specialist doctor.

Sharon and I accompanied her to the same place as before.

Mum’s memory function has deteriorated quite a bit since the first visit almost two months ago; not so much that she has no awareness of things around her, but nevertheless, there has been a significant decline. E.g. she introduced me to the doctor as her brother.

So, we were not expecting any ‘good’ news.

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The CT scan she’d had showed nothing more than age-related deterioration, her pulse is perfect (72) and the only ‘bad’ (inasmuch as it’s not a worry for this memory process, but it’s not ‘good’) is that her eGFR1 (estimated glomerular filtration rate2) was only 35. This could be another issue to watch, given that it shows moderate to severe loss of kidney function, but for now I’ll stick to the issue of memory.

The doctor mentioned dementia, but then avoided it suggesting that she didn’t like the word (neither do I) and towards the end of our interview suggested that this was Alzheimer’s, without actually dwelling on that. I suspect that once the paperwork all comes through – that’s what will be the diagnosis.

As part of this process, mum had also had to have an ECG, the result of which is that she has to visit the hospital again on July 31st, to see a cardiologist. Today’s doctor knew nothing about that – but promised to follow it up, especially as the drug she was prescribing for my mum depended on heart rate to a certain extent. She phoned me about an hour later to say that the G.P. was out right now, but that she would be in touch again next week. The medication aims to slow down the memory loss process.

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We were then introduced to the local Making Space representative. Making Space provide specialist dementia care alongside support for sufferers that enables them to stay in their own home for as long as possible. At this early stage, we only required information, advice and guidance. Sharon, the lady we met, was superb and was able to put my mum’s mind at rest and to answer the questions we had brought. She is sending me leaflets to read and more information about the services available to my parents. My job will be convincing my dad to take some, if not all of these up.

Some of the support I will be aiming for over the next few weeks will be to find an Admiral Nurse5 to pick up on my mum; to get my dad to reconsider applying for a Power of Attorney over my mum’s health and finances and to apply for Attendance Allowance on behalf of my mum.

Sharon, at Making Space has promised help with all of those.

References

Photo Credits:

https://pixabay.com/p-544403/?no_redirect

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As I said in a previous post, this is my birthday month.

Sharon’s ‘surprise’ gift to me was a Food, wine and history walking tour of Malaga (seeing as we’re down here for Christmas anyway). It was a surprise inasmuch as I only knew that on a particular day we had to catch a particular train from Torreblanca, to be able to present ourselves in the Plaza de la Constitución at 10:30am prompt.  31467462750_82c0fe75d0_n

We were met by Susanne, our guide and were joined by Mike from Manchester.

So just the three of us on the tour – which made it so much better than it might have been with lots more people. Sharon had booked with a company called Devour Spain – they also do tours of Madrid, Seville and Barcelona.

The trip starts with a short history of Malaga’s varying population from the ancient Phoenicians through Romans, Moors and the current Christian occupation. This was then used to pin the different dishes and tastes we went through during our 3½ – 4-hour tour.

We started with (slightly late for me) breakfast at Café Central, just on the corner of the square.

coffee-cupWe were told about the owner’s history and how he came to serve 10 (ten!) different sizes and styles of coffee. We had Pitufo con tomate and churros with our coffee. I had largo. All the coffees come in cups or glasses marked with a percentage – to show that you have been served exactly what you ordered.

Following breakfast we took a stroll to Malaga’s main market: Mercado de Atarazanas where we visited two stalls for extended tastings and more history. Our first tasting stop was the Cristóbal Rios olive stall (stand 241-248).  We tasted three types of olive (but I cannot remember their names – sorry), all varying in strength and taste, along with fried  marcona almonds and locally dried moscatel raisins. These were all delicious.

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Our next stop was at El Niño, still inside the market (stand 187-189). Here we were given a taste of sweet Malaga muscatel wine and a plate of cold cutsJ  There was a tasty, hard goats cheese, Iberian ham, Serrano ham, chorizo and salchichón. It was great to actually have both hams on the same plate, so I could see and taste the difference – and THERE IS a difference! Serrano ham is a much milder flavour and has much less fat than the prized Iberian product. Iberian ham is much fattier, tastier and deeper in flavour – as it should be given the way the pigs are bred. Often known as pata negra, these hams can be seen as different from serrano simply by having black feet. The two sausages were ok, but tend to be much nicer  when cooked.

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Having had our fill of market produce we took a fairly good stroll to the other side of town to Mainake, a specialist wine merchant. Here we tasted three local Andalusian wines that were unusually dry (rather than the more normal sweet Malaga wines). One white was to Sharon’s taste but too Retsina-ish for me, and then two very young red wines which were, once again, not to my taste.

Lunch was taken at Mesón Mariano in the city centre. We were presented with an amuse bouche of sorts, which was then followed by four entirely different tapas and a single sweet. The restaurant specialises in artichoke dishes and so we started with an artichoke dish: Alcachofas en salsa (it actually had a different name, but looked like this), then we had Boquerones simply coated in seasoned flour and fried. Boquerones are a small white anchovy local to Malaga. Someone from Malaga might be known as a Boquerón.

We then had a tuna dish that was delicious, but what it was called and what the sauce was made of is now beyond me as I was too engrossed with the previous two dishes. Our final tapa was a plate of Albondigas in a local almond sauce.  I like the sauce, but the meatballs were too big and the texture too doughy for my taste.  Our postres (dessert) was a local speciality: Leche frito. This is condensed milk that is friend and topped with a nougat (turrón) ice cream. That was DIFFERENT.

That was it – our tour was over, but it had been a delight. Excellently led by Susanne.

We stayed over in Malaga and had breakfast once again at Café Central. This time we were able to order our own food and coffee (and agua del grifo – tap water J)

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I hate this time of year.

The clocks have now gone back one hour and the days seem much shorter, darker and so very much colder. It has been the same every year, for all of my life; but now I don’t have to be up early and off to work. Now, I can do the work I get, online, so I don’t have to leave the house.

Perhaps in those ‘leave the house’ days I appreciated the slightly lighter mornings in November, but never the very much darker drive home – THAT was ALWAYS horrendous, no matter where I was working.

I understand the reasons behind the original implementation; we had considerably more rural areas back then and there was a war to fight (the Germans implemented daylight saving time in 1916 – so we did too!). I guess the long hours worked by factory/mill workers during the Industrial Revolution meant that it didn’t affect them much (no matter what time the sun came up in November-January, they wouldn’t see it), so only over time, as working hours were reduced, did it ‘matter’.

I can see why those living in more northerly climes would want an extra hour of daylight in the morning as it could stay dark for an awful long time – but there really is just an exact amount of daylight available, there’s nothing we can do about that. So if it’s lighter in the morning, it’s depressingly darker in the early evening.

For those of us who hate winter, and who have the chance to ‘see’ some the day, it is very depressing to be pulling on the curtains at 4:30pm and closing down for the day. Especially when, as usual, the day has been overcast and (often) damp.

As I say …. I hate this time of year.

 

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Come what may

Come what may; within 36-40 hours we will know whether or not the United Kingdom has taken a giant leap into the unknown or voted to stay in the European Union. As I said in my previous post, I will be voting to ‘REMAIN’ – but that last poll I saw showed the vote at 44% to leave and 44% to remain.

It will be (have been?) tight then.

Either way, I’m sure that life will go on – although at what cost remains to be seen.  Neither result will be seen as a good thing and the wrangling will go on for months, or even years. I’ve even read this week (something I vaguely remember from when we first referendum’d in 1975) that the government is not obliged to ratify the decision and could, if it so wished, go on as if nothing had happened.

Well – WHY THEN have the bloody referendum in the first place!

It will not silence the Tory ‘Euro-haters’, it will not lead to a general election (oh if all general elections could generate this much interest….) and it will not be good for the country – or Europe as a whole.

I despair of it all now and just hope for the best. Whatever that might be.

 

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Work

The last few days have been frustrating. For our training we are housed in a tiny room with intermittent internet connection, aging computers and a break out room (even smaller) that we cannot use if the ‘Director’ decides to come in to work. Even so, had the website we were here to train the folks on, have worked properly, even those “Indian” problems would have been easy enough to overcome. So frustrating.

Our team

Still, we managed: Just.

Sadly tonight is our last night with the delegates. Tomorrow (after 24 hours) we have some mopping up work to do and some shopping will be required before we get to that. We leave the hotel at 4:00am Wednesday morning.

Food

Our hotel provides a good selection of dishes from around the world. I wrote about the breakfasts in an earlier post but the lunches and evening meals are no less extensive. Like breakfast, the lunch menu has a wide array of buffet dishes from (mainly) across India. There are also special menu meals, only one of which we had because – quite simply – there is TOO MUCH to eat. Mostly, when we’ve eaten in the hotel of an evening, we have just had snacks, because the main dishes are huge.

Restaurant food

Lunch at the Biere Club

That doesn’t mean that the hotel is the only place to eat. We’ve eaten in several other places, sometimes more than once because a) the food is OK and b) the portions are not too large (and if they are the food is cheap enough to not worry about leaving any). Neither of us have overdone the Indian food, but what we have had has been delicious. However, many of our meals have been non-Indian (with maybe just a touch of Indian influence) 🙂

We’re frequented a place called The Biere Club  several times. They make a tasty really crispy based pizza and their ‘assorted’ fries are gorgeous. We must have sampled about a third of their menu on his trip and can honestly say that if you want a non-Indian snack or meal – this is the place to come. They even brew their own beer, which at lunchtimes, we’ve avoided (we have to work you know).

Another place I would never have a) found or b) gone into without Alison’s recommendation was The Only Place. Here, I had what was the best steak I’ve eaten in many a year. I can’t honestly remember one as nice in the last twenty years, unless it was one I had in Australia in 1996. It was simply delicious. It had real flavour, something we don’t often get back home, and was cooked to perfection. The restaurant itself is BYO (as long as it’s wine the can serve you with disguised as coke, or tonic) and very Indian. Hat’s off to you guys – keep up the good work.

Last night we went to a place we’d never been before. The Glasshouse looks  a bit posh and to be fair they did their best to provide a friendly, open air, Mediterranean atmosphere. The food was really good: We both had Caramelized Goat’s Cheese as a delicious starter and followed that up with chicken dishes which were perfectly cooked but nothing to write home about.

Street food

Fruit sales

I really wish I dared to try the street food that we see everywhere. There are folks selling coconuts; they cut the copra away and allow the purchaser to drink the water inside (straws are optional) and then, the cut it open properly and scoop out the inside with a leaf. There are folks selling cut fruit: my problem is the amount of flies we often see around such stalls and the water the fruit may have been ashed in. There are folks selling, peanuts (freshly cooked and de-husked), folks selling sweet tea, folks selling all types of meals to eat standing on the corner of the road (which is invariably bedlam) and all kinds of other folks selling – stuff 🙂

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