Monday, 29 May 2017

Whistle Blowers, Sanguineous Sausage and Revolting Catalans.

Whistle blowers, sanguineous sausage and revolting Catalans

Antes que nada (First of all) I must offer my apologies to Julian Clary and his lawyers for a mistake I made in the last edition of this venerable but humble organ.
King José 1st. of Spain (Joseph Bonaparte) was not really married to Mr. J. Clary, star of the stage and witty radio panellist . His wife was, in fact,  Julie Clary who was born nearly two hundred years before the popular entertainer and animal lover.

                                Julie Clary Bonaparte ( Born Julie Clary in 1771; died in 1845)

                                                Julian Clary, popular entertainer.

You've got to so careful these days when you write an extremely popular and informative blog like this. A simple typing error can get you into all kinds of trouble.I hope that this will be the end of the matter.

I missed the Eurovision Song Contest again this year so I missed Great Britain's sucess in scoring some points. Here in Álora not everyone was rooting for the Spanish entry, 'Do it for Your Lover', sung by Manel Navarro Quesada, a Catalán 'teen idol' who allegedly (careful Juanito) only qualified as Spain's entry by rigging the votes. Manel's reply to the accusations of skullduggery was a 'corte de mangas' to the studio audience who were booing and hissing him. 

Here's Manel giving the corte de mangas to the audience.

Here he is giving a victory 'V' sign at the Eurovision  final.

This was just before for he sang a gallo (bum note) The judges responded by returning the V sign and giving him 'nil points'.
Spain came last. Manel is now known as 'El gallo' (The Cockerel/ Bum Note).

 It doesn't matter to millions of Spaniards because he's Catalan and therefore to them,'not Spanish'. That's why his name is 'misspelt'. There's a lot of animosity towards Cataluña because it is trying to become independent from Spain and because  Barcelona FC.  keeps beating 'real Spanish football teams' like Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid. (sometimes)

                                                Catalan flag (blue version)

There was a Catalan referendum in  2014 which resulted in 88% of the 35% of the Catalan population who could bother to vote voting for independence. This was a non- binding referendum (why didn't Cameron do that?), so when the Catalan government announced it was going to declare independence anyway, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said 'No way José!' (¡Ni hablar de la peluca, José!) even though the Catalan president was called Artur (Arthur) Mas. Mas is now banned from holding any public office for two years. The new Catalan President, Carles Puigdemont is a big fan of Nicola Sturgeon and together they have formed a new 'We Want Independence' club. 

                                         Nicola Sturgeon and Artur (Arthur) Mas

 Members so far include the USA, The Turks and Caicos Islands, Yorkshire and London. 

Progress with Pretty Boy George (Monty)

The 'Man in Álora' office has been inundated with enquiries about the Sánchez Spaniel, Monty, now 5 months old, and in particular about how he is finding life in Álora.

Well, apart from the heat and the oily food he has voiced no complaints so far. All the local strays and 'homies' of the Plaza Baja presume he is 'son a 'Bro' Tomás, innit. (Tommy's son)  and so they're scared of even 'sneak disssing' him, let alone 'getting crunk wid him' as they say round here. 

                          Plaza Baja  perros showing respect for 'el Niño de Bro' Tomás '

The only sign of disrespect was up at the castle when a crazy macho (male) Shar Pei  'went postal' with Bro Tomás. Tommy flashed his Perote snarl and snap and the ugliest dog in the world 'did one'. Monty was well impressed, I can tell you.

His training programme se dió en un hueso ( hit a snag) a couple of weeks ago when Mrs. Sánchez realised she can't whistle. Like most problems these days it was solved by Dr. Google who suggested a dog training whistle. Apparently the only whistle any self respecting canine will respond to is an 'ACME 210.5'.

                                                            The ACME 210.5

Contrary to popular opinion, a dog whistle doesn't have to be inaudible to the human ear -  as long as the dog can hear it. Dogs can perceive a far higher range of high pitched sounds than humans but,  how do you know  a silent whistle's working if you can't hear it?

                          A British bobby blowing a  'ACME Metropolitan' police whistle

During my brief but eventful career as a teacher I was obliged to be 'on playground duty' every few days. The only compulsory equipment for this thankless sacrifice of my morning coffee break was an Acme Thunderer whistle, as essential a piece of teacher kit as a police whistle was to a bobby before they invented walkie-talkies and a referees whistle was before.....oh, they still use one and it's usually the 60.5 model.

Acme Thunderer 60.5 (200 million sold by year 2000)

'A primary school has introduced a ban on whistles on the grounds that the “aggressive” noise can scare children.
St Monica’s Catholic Primary School in Milton Keynes has said instead of using whistles at the end of playtime, staff must raise their hands to tell pupils when it’s time to stop.
The ban was revealed by Pamela Cunningham, a teaching assistant at the school. In a letter to Country Life magazine, she said she still keeps her hand-carved whistle in her pocket “just in case” the children don’t spot her hand in an emergency.
Alan Smithers, a professor at Buckingham University, has described the ban as "crazy".
He told The Sunday Times: “We have become extraordinarily oversensitive. Does this means children are not going to be able to play football and hockey because the referees use whistles? 
“What about fire alarms? Sharp noises are very good signals. This seems crazy to me.”
The decision has also provoked a reaction on social media, with Twitter users describing the ban as “idiotic” and “ridiculous”. John Roninson, who works for a stage lighting company in Huddersfield, wrote: “Some mornings you wake up and wonder if you're in a parallel universe.”'

The Independent. 22nd. May 2016
' 'Hand carved whistle??? Not an ACME Thunderer,then.

                                       World War 1 Hudson Whistle, dated 1915.
Anyway, all these ACME whistles and many more are made by J Hudson & Co. of 244 Barr Street, Birmingham They have been making whistles there since1883 when Joseph Hudson discovered that you could make a more powerful sound by putting a pea in the whistle.
They still employ 100 workers, make over 5 million whistles a year in 93 different shapes and sizes and export to 119 countries.

It was the sound of a J. Hudson whistle that sent thousands of British soldiers 'over the top' to die pointless deaths in World War 1 but  their best seller was the 'Metropolitan' which was issued to London's policemen instead of 'rattles'.
They saved a few lives too. 
Today Hudson's Tornado 2000 is 'the most powerful whistle in the world' and can reach 122 decibels which is very loud.

 Good News From Álora
Tenacious followers of this honourable publication may remember the tragic loss of water at Alora's Roman Fountain on La Canca. Mrs. S and I used to obtain all our drinking water there as did hundreds of Perotes. Rumours were rife about what had caused the abrupt termination of supply. The appearance of a big commercial citrus fruit plantation nearby was linked by some  very cynical commentators to the 'sequía' (drought)
Now we have water again!
                                                                  Last week

                                                                  Last year
Too late for us. We had a very expensive water purifier installed last year so we can use the town's tap water.
Congratulations to all involved in restoring the flow.

Noticias sobre las morcillas  (Black pudding news) (Skip this, Clive).
For black pudding enthusiasts I would like to recommend El Bar Nuevo in Casarabonela for its outstanding morcilla.
    Only a few picturesque kilometres away from Álora, Casarabonela ('Bonela' to residents and frequent visitors) is home to a morcilla casera (home made black pudding) which is de puta madre (the dog's bollocks). It is quite dfferent from the morcillas I have tucked into around Málaga and nothing like the famous morcilla de Burgos which has been my favourite until now. This scrumptious sanguineous sausage is the closest I have come in Spain to the world famous Lancashire liplickingful  Bury Black Pudding.
                        Morcilla casera. El Bar Nuevo de Casarabonela (and chips)

You can buy this porcine delight at either of the two carnicerías (butcher's) in 'Bonela. The  nearest to Álora is just through the town archway on the left. Mmmmmm.
¡Qué aproveche!
Juanito Sánchez.  May 29th. 2017

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Joe Bottle and why there are no old masters in Spain.

                           Pepe Botella. (Joe Bottle)  King José 1st. of Spain.

                         'Everyone to  their own fate. Yours is to be drunk until you die'

There's been a lot of talk about 'fake news' recently so I'd like take this opportunity to reassure all my loyal readers that nothing you will ever read here is in any way 'news'.
I'm sorry if any of my new 138 readers in South Korea are non-plussed by that statement but I expect the 190 Russians who have also 'viewed my page' yesterday will know what I mean. Don't ask me.......I've no idea.
I'm also delighted to report that the readership of this humble organ in The Turks and Caicos Islands has increased from 1 to 28 since those beautiful and unspoiled paradise tax havens got a mention. 

The big news at the moment in Álora is the visit to our beautiful historic  pueblo of 17 school students from France.

Here they are being welcomed at the Ayuntamiento (town hall) by our Alcaldesa Accidental (Accidental Mayor), Sonia Ramos and their Spanish counterparts.They will be staying with Perote (Aloranean) families for a week and will get the chance to visit Córdoba, walk the now world famous Caminito del Rey, which is just up the road, and tuck in to our signature dish, Sopas Perotas. Mmm. Welcome to you all.

Considering that France and Spain are neighbours we don't see many French people around here, either as residents or on holiday. It's not that far away after all. 

I asked the owner of my favorite bar for his opinion about the 'Gabachos' (French) and he was very negative. My old friend Antonio Martos didn't like the French either. Apparently French farmers are always attacking Spanish lorries as they head to Northern Europe with grapes, avocados,melons, oranges, lemons and wine. That's upset a few people, naturally, but  the real reason for this perpetual traditional trans-Pyrenean petulance goes back two hundred years and to what Spaniards call La Guerra de la Independencia Española (1808-1814)(The Spanish War of Independence) and the British call 'The Peninsular War' (starring Sean Bean). 
And the Spanish blame everything on 'Joe Bottle', Napoleon's brother.

                                                             Napoleon Bonaparte

Napoleon Bonaparte was famous for going all over Europe and into Africa bashing and biffing everybody he came across, making them learn French and buy onions. He was also very fond of robbing the countries he biffed and bashed of their best works of art so that he could fill his new Art Gallery (The Louvre) with his loot as well as portraits of himself like the one above which first attracted  the lovely ('not tonight') Josephine to him.
His elder brother, Joseph was a peaceful, cultured, well meaning sort of a  chap who was fond of reading, gardening,  collecting butterflies, stamps and paintings until his brother spoilt everything for him by making him king of the places he had biffed and bashed.

                                         Joseph Bonaparte (a reluctant despot)

First he was sent in 1806 to be King of Naples and the Two Sicilies where he got on quite well with the locals who had just got rid of a really nasty king. Joseph and his wife Julian Clary got on quietly with the job, Joseph with his gardening and art collection and Julian with her work with orphans and fallen women. Things seemed to be going well until his brother decided to biff the Spanish and invaded Spain, kicking out King Ferdinand Vll. Napoleon told his brother to go to Spain and grab all the loot, especially pictures, he could get his hands on and made him King José 1st. of Spain.

The Spaniards were very cross. They regarded the French as atheists and foreigners who deserved no mercy and 'guerrillas' started chopping up French soldiers with those big Spanish knives that you can still buy for 40 (£33.62)  in Toledo

                                          An angry Spanish guerrilla with a big knife

 Poor Joseph was the focus of all this unpleasantness and the Spanish people even started to call him nasty names like Pepe Botella (Joe Bottle) and put the word around that he was always drunk. This upset the sensitive Joseph, who hardly drank at all, and he wrote to his brother, pleading to let him go back to being king of  Naples.

"The inhabitants are opposed to the whole thing. The fact is that not a single Spaniard is on my side.'

Napoleon offered the job to another brother, Louis, who was hanging on for a better offer; England or Russia perhaps,and turned the gig down. He wrote back to Joseph,

"Stop whingeing, you disgusting fop and  concentrate on nabbing the art treasures."

Things got even worse when Napoleon invaded Portugal too. England was Portugal's ally and so sent an army to biff the French,led by the Duke of Wellington who was still called Arthur Wellesley in those days. 
When Joseph heard about the size of the British force he grabbed everything he could including all the Spanish crown jewels and every painting in the Spanish Royal Collection, loaded the loot into wagons and headed north with 10,000 soldiers. He got as far as Vitoria when Wellesley caught up with him and gave the French army a severe bashing (5000 deaths on each side).

                                        The Battle of Vitoria 21st. June 1813

Joseph escaped to France but had to leave most of the loot behind. The pictures were rolled up like rugs and nobody realised how valuable they were until Wellesley, who now controlled all the loot that hadn't been grabbed by his men, changed his name to the Duke of Wellington and  took them to London to be valued on the Antiques Road Show. 
Joseph managed to get away with a fortune in jewellery. His family fled to Switzerland and after his brother was defeated at The Battle of Waterloo they caught a boat to the USA, bought some land in New Jersey and  lived happily ever after,  becoming pillars of American society. 

                    Point Breeze, Joseph Bonaparte's estate in Bordentown, New Jersey.

 But they still hate him in Spain.

One of the looted jewels, a big pear shaped 550 year old pearl called La Peregrina surfaced when Richard Burton paid $37,000 for it in 1969 as a Valentine's Day present for Elizabeth Taylor.

                                                Liz Taylor wearing La Peregrina
In 2011 it was sold at Christie's for $11.8 million to an anonymous Asian buyer.

The Duke of Wellington tried to give all the Spanish paintings back to the restored Spanish king,  Ferdinand Vll but Ferdinand was so grateful to Wellington (and not a great art lover) that he let him keep all the pictures, gave him a Spanish title , Duke of Ciudad Rodrigo and a large part of Andalucía at Illora, near Granada which the Wellington family still owns but the duke never visited. You can still see the pictures in Apsley House (National Trust), The Wellingtons'  'town residence'. (address: Number One, London.).

The locals aren't too happy with the Wellesley family these days.

 "It's a mini-Gibraltar," said Francisco Domene, the socialist mayor of the nearby town of Illora, who has launched legal action to challenge ownership of the estate.
The mayor argues that the original royal decree gifting land to the first Duke of Wellington was expanded on without authorisation by subsequent heirs. He is calling for 1,000 hectares of the 5,000 hectare estate to be expropriated.

Hey ho.

Last Sunday Mrs, Sánchez and I went up to La Ermita de Las  Tres Cruces for the annual 'Verdiales' festival. Four villages from Málaga province provide 9 Verdiales pandas (groups) for the competition. It was a beautiful May morning and our friend Ana Molina brought along a picnic! (no Sopas Perotas but a delicious tortilla). 
Álora was represented by Sonia, our Alcaldesa Accidental because our real mayor, José Sánchez Moreno (no relation) is out of action at the moment. I buttonholed Sonia to ask, on your behalf, when we could expect the restoration of 'Epi', as he is fondly called by colleagues and townsfolk alike. She was non- committal but gave me a kiss, which was nice.

And finally.

I'd like to express my thanks to the town of Casarabonela for bestowing upon the Sánchez family the inestimable honour of having one of their streets named after us.
Only a 'rincon' but it's a start. I can't imagine why they thought I was a 'niño of 'Bonela' though.

Only a 'rincon' but it's a start..

Juanito Sánchez

May 10'th 2017.

Friday, 28 April 2017

The Accidental Mayor is Bringing up the Bodies.

                                                      Dawn in La Plaza Baja

Mrs. Sánchez and I have been back in Álora almost a week now and our street has already been scrubbed thirteen times by the  town's hi-tech cleaning vehicle. I don't think they've got more than one and Calle Benito Suarez is no dirtier than any other calle, and cleaner than a fair few. I don't miss the dog turds at all. Any road up, as they say in Birmingham, I collared our regular daily street sweeper to find out why we were getting such a good service. It's all to do with the roadworks up in town. 
Calle Carmona is closed most of the the time, and Calle Vera Cruz is closed all the time. These are two of our main thoroughfares so getting round, or indeed, in and out of town is a nightmare. Luckily one of Spain's leading surrealist comedians lives here and was willing  to design a 'temporary' one way system. One of the results is that Paco with his Lean Machine has to go down our street many times a day (at 1 mph.) to get to calles that need  cleaning.

                                    The Clean Machine at the bottom of our street.

It's no match, though, for the annual coating of mucky wax that the various cofradias and hermandades apply to our road surfaces during Semana Santa. Molten wax from a million marching candle carriers has once again left a multi-coloured mottled mess which makes braking a risky and unpredictable manouevre and provides us all with a dramatic soundrack as cars with waxed- up tyres screech round corners like something out of 'Scarface' or 'The Untouchables'. An uninformed visitor could be excused for thinking the town is inhabited by untidy chewing gum fiends. 
                                                  The evidence
                                                                         Our street

It's no use complaining to the alcalde (mayor) either. (Jose Sánchez Moreno. No relation) He's nowhere to be seen.  The town is now in the hands of the beautiful and talented Sonia Ramos whose title is Alcalde Accidental.
Here he is at one of his rare public appearances last week. He is on the left and Ms. Ramos is on the right. I wish Sonia all the best and hope that 'Epi', as he's known to his friends and grateful townsfolk, will be back behind the wheel soon.

Before continuing, I would like to say a big hello to the reader of this venereal organ who lives in The Turks and Caicos Islands, which my  well-informed readers will know is an island in the Caribbean famous for its beautiful beaches, shell companies  and tax dodgers. The only 'belonger' (that's what they call proper residents there ) of these islands known to me is Lord Michael Ashcroft of Oldham, Baron of Brexit, billionaire tax exile and big bunger to the British Conservative Party. If it's you, Mike, Hi and it's good to have you on board.

                           The Turks and Caicos Islands, home to one of our readers.

                                                 'Guernica' by Pablo Picasso

Yesterday, April 26th. was the 80th. anniversary of the bombing of the Basque town Guernica, during the Spanish 'Civil War', by the German Luftwaffe and the Italian Aviazione on the orders of Generalisimo Francisco Franco.
Waves of bombers attacked the town for over  two hours and fighter planes strafed the roads out of Guernica killing people as they  tried to flee.
The German 'Condor Legion' was led by Wolfram Von Richtofen, a cousin of the famous WW1 'ace' 'The Red Baron'. What an honour for Guericans!
                                                     Guernica April 27th. 1937

The bombing raid took place on Market Day when the town was full of local residents and people  from surrounding villages. It was an explicit act of 'terror' and was one of the first instances of the deliberate bombing of a civilian population. Around 300 people were killed.
Initially Franco denied it had happened as did the Germans. They were widely believed at the time but a British journalist, George Speer, happened to be in the area and reported on the bombings for The Times and The New York Times.(see Telegram from Guernica. Author ;Nicholas Rankin,  Faber and Faber, 2003).

Most people who have heard of Guernica know of it through the fame of Picasso's massive painting which is in the Museo Reina Sofia in Madrid. 
Not many people are around who were alive and can remember the events of 1937 in Spain. Most Spanish people agreed to the unwritten  Pacto de Olvido' (The forgetting Agreement') and chose not to talk about the horror of La Guerra Civil and the years of repression that followed Franco's victory in 1939..

Now it's all come alive again in Álora.
Every year a group of people gather at the castillo (castle) on the hill to remember the murders of local republicans, socialists and others, all labelled 'rojos' (reds), that were killed by Franco's death squads after Málaga and the surrounding villages were overrun by rebel 'nationalist' and Italian forces. Most of the killings were carried out up at the castillo, which was the town's cemetery until recently, mostly by  local members of the fascist  'falange'.

                                     Inside the castillo. The site of one mass grave.

This week work has begun inside the castle walls to exhume the bodies of an estimated 196 people from Álora and surrounding villages who were shot by falangist death squads and buried in mass graves in 1937. Relatives of the victims now have the right to find and identify the remains of their fathers, grandfathers, brothers and husbands  by DNA , give them a proper burial and have a memorial erected. Similar exhumations will be taking place in the neighbouring towns of Cártama, Alfarnate and Villanueva de la Concepción.

Also, our 'Accidental Mayor', Sonia Ramos, is trying to have  the road from Málaga to Almería designated as a 'Sendero de la Memoria' (Memorial Path) in memory of the flight of thousands of people from Málaga to Almería in February 1937 after the fascist forces of Franco and Mussolini captured the city and immediately executed over 4,000  'republicans'. It is still the biggest exodus of a civilian population in the history of Europe. 
The ,mostly, civilians  were harried  as they fled along the coastal road by fighter and bomber aircraft and shelled from the sea by gunboats (including the German heavy cruiser the 'Admiral Graf Spee)' as they tried to escape to goverment held Almería, 200 km. away. 150,000 left Málaga. Only 40,000 made it to Almería.

                                          The flight from Málaga, February 1937

Now for the bad news. Recently I reported the opening of two new bars, El Lugar in the 'Barriada del Puente and El Lagá, which opened almost next door to the popular cafetería Los Arcos. They lasted less than a year. El Lugar has had to close because the owner has health problems. El Lagá, which must have had tens of thousands of euros spent on it, has closed owing to a lack of customers.

The good news is that Álora had a fantastic Semana Santa (Holy Week). The weather was warm and sunny so all the 'tronos' (thrones) were able to parade around town (and drop record amounts of melted candle wax on the streets). The bars did well too, especially El Mocho in La Plaza Baja (The Bottom Square) run by the enigmatic and brutally handsome Manolo. He deserves it. El Mocho is our only bar down here now and depends on good weather on Viernes Santo (Good Friday) and The 'Día de Las Sopas Perotas in October to make enough money for him to make a living. I can highly recommend Manolo's tapas and you can always get a good view of 'the real Spain' down here in La Plaza Baja.
That reminds me...there's a very strong smell of reefer around here at the moment. The last time it niffed so strongly was just before the marijuana factory was discovered a few houses down from La Casa Sánchez.
I'm just saying.

Juanito Sánchez
April 28th. 2017

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Man-eating fish in Malaga and dog-eating snake in Loja. Call the Irish Brigade!

Man-eating fish in Málaga and dog-eating snake in Loja.
Call the Irish Brigade!

Just about two weeks to go now  before Los Sánchez board the Good Ship Pont Aven in Portsmouth and, fair winds permitting, sail south to Santander. 

                                                   The Good Ship Pont Aven

Mrs. Sánchez and I have splashed out on a luxury en suite cabin this time with hot and cold running water, 4 bunk beds, a plug point for our camping kettle and a big window with one-way glass. Tommy and his new best pal, Monty, are booked into a couple of stainless steel boxes on Deck 10, by the funnel, called 'kennels'. It's a bit noisy up there, what with all the engine noise and all  the dogs barking, but Tommy sees it as an adventure and is a bit deaf now anyway. Little Monty, who I mentioned in my last dispatch, has it all to look forward to.

                                                Monty (aka Pretty Boy George)

But not as much as he's looking forward to 2 days in the back of the car. He's four months old now and has his own passport which may well be taken off him in a couple of years when we go to war with Spain over Gibraltar, a big rock whose two main industries are offshore banking and online gambling and  which the Spanish call 'El Peñon' (The Big Rock) or Nuestro (Ours). 

Two weeks ago a woman from Loja,near Granada (and only 109 km from Álora) admitted feeding puppies to her pet python. (Google 'Spanish woman feeds puppies to python' if you don't believe me. Be prepared for an unpleasant photo)) Even in Spain this is not acceptable and she is being investigated by the Guardia Civil. You'll never guess what the python was called!

I went past Loja a couple of weeks ago on the way to Granada during a week of  'fact finding' and 'work'.
 Mrs. Sánchez, who offered to look after Monty, insisted that my good friend Colin and I spend a few days in the sun to 'sort out' the olive prunings, which involved having three big hogueras (bonfires) and to tidy up the garden. The garden needed very little work as our kind neighbours Julie, Alan and Isabel have been keeping it tidy and watering the plants so we did a bit of fact finding instead, to pass the time. This is what we found out.

Fact 1. Granada has a great restaurant/bar called La Sitarilla which does a three course Menú del Día for 10€. and offers Manitas de Cerdo (pigs trotters) as a main course.

Mmm. Sticky and scrumptious.

Fact 2. There is a great bar inside the main Malaga Ataranzas Market , El Yerno (The son-in-law), which is open all afternoon and serves fresh fish and seafood tapas.

   El Yerno (A man eating fish is just out of the picture on the left).

Fact 3. There are two new bars in Álora; Casa Romero in la Plaza de la Fuente de Arriba (The top square) and La Taverna del Círculo in Calle Cervantes.
La Casa Romero is where Bar Las Dos Fuentes used to be and has tables on the square (which is really a triangle). It's bright and modern with an interesting old 'bodega' (wine cellar) downstairs. The friendly and portly waiter, Isodoro, serves very generous copas de vino and it opens in the evenings. Try their Huevos Rotos. (Eggs, chips, cheese and Serrano ham).
La Taverna El Círculo gets very full of an afternoon with ladies of a certain age. You can buy Fuller's 'London Pride' here. 

NB.  No shortage of bars on Calle Cervantes. Las Kñas (which no Brit can pronounce) still does well but the two grumpy ladies that run it have rested on their laurels for too long and the food isn't as good as it used to be. (in my opinion). Try El Pintor too.

Fact.4,  Fashions have not changed much since last November. You can still see handsomely rotund Brits sporting string vests, boxer shorts and flip flops with designer stubble (on face and chest and legs)  as they sit in the sun exchanging stories about how this or that bar cheats the Brits, how there are too many immigrants in the UK and where you can get a good Sunday Roast.

Alternative Fact 1.  You can buy pies in the Farmácia.

 I must say that I was pleasantly surprised to see this in a shop window in Calle Vera Cruz....until I realised it was the Farmácia (chemist): a 'false friend' if ever I saw one. Pies means 'feet', as in 'Se echó a sus pies' which does not (unfortunately) refer to a pie throwing contest but 'He threw himself at her feet'.

A bit of History (optional)

 Most people living in Spain will have heard of La Guerra Civil. (The Spanish Civil War) (1936-39) which ended in victory for the fascist Italian, German and rebel 'Nationalist' Spanish forces under Generalisimo Francisco Franco Bahamonde (Franco) and led to Spain being a 'fascist'  dictatorship under Franco for 36 years. Many will have heard of the International Brigade, the non-Spaniards who came to Spain to fight on the republican side, but I bet that neither of my loyal readers will have heard of the 'Irish Brigade' that came from The Irish Free State to fight on the 'fascist' side. I only found out about it today when I was reading a piece in El País in English about a bar owner, Henk de Groot,  in Amsterdam whose bar is 'a shrine to Franco'.

                                           Henk de Groot in his bedroom....tasty.

Apparently his grandad was Irish and went to Spain with The Irish Brigade.

Badge of the Irish Brigade

Standard of The Irish Brigade
They were led by Eion (John) O'Duffy the leader of a small group of Irish fascists called 'The Blue Shirts' who wore blue shirts but changed their shirts and name to 'The Green Shirts'. Franco didn't want them to come to Spain and refused to pay for transport for the 700 volunteers. 200 made their own way to Spain and the others came on a German boat hired by O'Duffy. They managed to get hold of some German uniforms and dyed them green by boiling them in spinach.
The only two bits of  fighting they did were in a battle between themselves and some fascists from The Canary Isles. 17 men were killed in the  'friendly fire'. In the other piece of action, at Titulcia, two more were killed  and so they decided to call it a day. They were also having problems with 'the oily food and cheap wine' and had taken to calling their leader, O'Duffy, 'Johnny Bollocks'
In April 1937 the adjutant, Captain Gunning, ran off with their wages and passports and they went home via Portugal. In 1940, the Irish government burned all files relating to the 'Irish Brigade'. 

Memorial to The Irish Brigade, Limerick
Back to 2017.
 Visitors to Álora will notice that it's a bit tricky getting round town at the moment. The road is up again. Perhaps 'block paving' was a bad idea for a busy main road with lots of bends and heavy vehicles. I doubt if they will doing that again in a hurry. Meanwhile traffic is being directed up the rather steep Calle La Rampa and after that, I've no idea. I'm sure it will all be ready for Semana Santa which kicks off a week today with Domingo Ramos. 
By the time we arrive it should be all over bar the shouting .

Hasta luego.

Juanito Sánchez April 2nd. 2017.