Sunday, 15 April 2018

Tourists Flock to Álora for Slipping, Swearing and Scary Walks.

Tourists Flock to Álora for Slipping, Swearing and Scary Walks

                                  Elmore Leonard

America's greatest and most successful crime writer, Elmore Leonard, gave 10 rules for aspiring writers and the first was: 
'Never open a book with weather'.
It's a good job I have no such aspirations because here I go again.

We've been here in the most beautiful and friendly town in Spain for two weeks now and it's raining a cántaros (cats and dogs) again. Seville's famous annual feria kicks off on Sunday so it had better clear up by then! According to our amiga , Ana Molina Pérez there was a hurricane there on Wednesday. 

                             'Hurricane' in Seville

You´d think everyone would be going round wearing long faces, Wellington boots, pakamacs(TM) and cagouls, wouldn't you? Well, not a bit of it. The big event of the year here, the Despedía (farewell), had to be cancelled on Viernes Santo (Good Friday) because rain was forecast but even that disaster has not dampened the spirits of the hardy Perotes.

                            Umbrellas at the ready 

Dolores Coronada made only  a brief appearance. She did a couple of quick laps round the bottom square and nipped back into the parroquía (parish church) before the rain started and she'll staythere safe and dry until next spring.
Thousands of disappointed visiting virgin fans headed uptown to drown their communal sorrows in the bars of the Plaza de la Fuente Arriba until the early hours of Saturday morning.
Our neighbour, Joachím is the Hermano Mayor (Chief Brother) of the Dolores Hermandad (Brotherhood) and spent most of  Friday morning pacing up and down our street, looking glum.

                     Joachím (on the left) looking glum

You can imagine the damage that a soaking could do to Dolores's costume but that's not the only reason the Despedía was cancelled. By Friday, after several days and nights of candlelit processions, many of Álora's streets were covered in black and purple candle wax.
So many Perotes have ended up in A&E after slipping on the wax in recent years that this year the ayuntamiento (town hall) has put up warning notices. 

        "Attention! Risk of falling and slipping. Wax on the  pavement."

In Malaga they have special wax removers that remove the deadly and unsightly stuff.

                                   Wax removers

If we had one here it could save the Spanish Health Service millions of euros.

A coating of rain can make the road surfaces lethal, especially if you are one of the lucky lads (and lasses, these days) carrying a ton of virgin and throne up and down the steep alleyways. Driving a car around town at the moment is hazardous. Cars come screeching round the corner at the end of our street day and night. One of them managed to bash my wing mirror again. Bashed wing mirrors are de rigueur round here.

 A familiar sight.


Anyway, it's no good shaking your head and saying 'Qué asco de tiempo!' (What awful weather!) to a Perote (Aloranean) because he or she will just smile and say 'El campo las hace falta aguas'  (the fields need rain). - and as olive farmers we agree entirely. 
The reservoirs down here are now nearly full. Some are even releasing water to prevent damage. What a waste. Enough is enough!

Poet's Corner 

When it's raining in Andalucía
The residents give a loud cheer.
The ex-pats, however,  
Prefer the dry weather
Hot sun, English grub and sangría.

Mrs. Sánchez and I are convinced that every year some new event or procedure is added to the already ample agenda of Semana Santa. (Holy Week). This year ,on the day after Viernes Santo, our neighbour and tobacconist, Antonio plucked my sleeve and asked if I was going up to the football ground for 'un gran acontecimiento' (a big event). This was a new one on me. The Saturday after Good Friday has always been a bit of an anti-climax, with only El Dia de Jesus Resucitado (Easter Sunday) to look forward to and no chocolate eggs. This year they've slipped in another attraction...The Swearing of Allegiance to the Flag of the Parachute Regiment.  (La Jura de Bandera).

                              La Jura de Bandera

About 300 Perotes lined up to kiss the bandera (flag) of the Paracaidistas (Paratroop Regiment). We couldn't make it as we were entertaining guests who had indicated a preference for a trip up to the Lakes followed by a  home cooked paella in our garden. Who can blame them?
The event was attended by our popular and still youthful alcalde (mayor) José ' 'Epi' to my friends' Sánchez. (no relation) and a few of his town hall pals. I don't know if he kissed the flag or not but he joined in the spirit of the occasion.

                          Epi and his military mates.

To round off the celebrations a hundred doves were
released, representing The Resurrection and the soldiers took pot shots at them with their shiny guns.

If this new and thought provoking Easter celebration seems a bit bizarre, that's because it is. Two of the main processions here and elsewhere I am told, involve the military - Las Paracaidistas and La Legion Espanola. (The Spanish Legion).

A popular feature is when the Paras juggle with their automatic rifles in the usually dimly lit crowded streets of our little town. So far no-one has been blinded or maimed. The Paras, for reasons unknown to me, have a close association with one of the main hermadades (brotherhoods)  'El Señor de las Torres'. One of the swearers explained to me that the ceremony was really intended for  members of the hermandad, but because it's 'incompatible' for the church and the army to be seen collaborating, everyone was welcome and the presence of the alcalde made it more of a 'civil' event. 
Don't pencil this into your 2019 diary yet. My friend Paco told me it only happened because the top general of the Paracaidistas happened to be in town visiting his grandma for  Easter and was up for a bit of a do.

All the hoo-ha surrounding Catalunya's bid for independence has died down a bit for the moment as all the candidates for the presidency are either in jail or  or dashing round Europe trying to avoid arrest for terrible crimes.
The big news at the moment is about Cristina Cifuentes the president of the Comunidad de Madrid  who is trouble because she lied (allegedly) about her qualifications

      President Cristina Cifuentes with her fake certificate.

It appears that the Master's Degree that she says she obtained in 2012 is a fake. She never attended lectures (not that unusual I would have thought), never completed the course work and never took any exams She can not produce her final thesis and the signatures on a document she produced to prove she had ever been near the 'University of King Juan Carlos' turned out to be fakes.
She's the top Partido Popular (PP) political person in the whole of the Madrid Region. The university, which is the only thing in her story that DOES  exist, is 'very close' to the Partido Popular and its Director of Public Law Department has been suspended.

Well I ask you, who hasn't lied on their CV at some time or other?  I can't see what all the fuss is about. Granted that she appears to be a cheat and a liar, but she wouldn't have got where she is in politics today, Reggie, if she wasn't. 
Cristina is refusing to budge and is convinced she can avoid resigning  by shouting at everybody, stamping her feet and saying she's going to be sick.
Somebody ought to tell her that if she wants a Master's Degree that badly all she has to do is go to Oxford or Cambridge University in England, get a BA or something, pay £10.00 and 'Bob's your uncle!' An MA.

          Lord David Willetts, Universties and Science MInister

Indeed, our own, much loved  David (now Lord) Willetts, Conservative Minister of State for Universties and Science until recently did just that and nobody batted an eyelid! He even wrote a book about it.
You couldn't make it up.

Here's some good news.

 The Caminito Del Rey, (The World's Most Scariest (sic) Walkway)  which is half in 'Alora and half (approximately) in Ardales and which has been open to the public for three years now has been visited by 1,000,000 people who have 'brought a hundred million euros to the region'.

           The Caminito del Rey (before it was mended).

                                 The World's Most Scariest Walkway
                             (after it  was mended)

So says Elías Bendodo, President of Malaga Region. I can't imagine  where all that money has gone unless they used it to put thousands of pot plants on walls around the town. A couple of candle wax removers wouldn't go amiss.

                      New pot plants on Calle Erillas

The Malaga provincial government is very pleased with the 'international recognition' that the Caminito has achieved but they're disappointed that not many visitors are staying overnight in the area despite the fact that "In Alora and Ardales there are 350 hotels with a capacity of 5,000 beds".
Really? I'd like to know where they all are. We've got one hotel and three hostals here in town so that leaves Ardales (population 2037) with the other 346. 
Book early to avoid disappointment!

Juanito Sánchez
15th. April 2018

Thursday, 22 March 2018

Man Not In Alora Takes a Trip to the Far East and Meets the Beast.

Man Not In Álora Takes a Trip to the Far East and meets The Beast.

People are always asking me why Mrs. Sánchez and I spend winter here in England instead of in sunny Spain. After the winter we've just had here it's a fair point. It was the  first day of Spring yesterday (the venereal equinox) and we put the clocks forward next Saturday night so it's about time we started seeing  lambs gambolling, hares going mad and the little birds building their nests,  but just when you think it´s all over along comes The Beast from the East, closely followed by it's 'mini-me' the Mini Beast from the East.

                                                   The Beast from the East

Signs of Spring.

'It's an ill wind that blows nobody any good' proverbialised Mrs. Sánchez and so off we went to visit some old pals in East Anglia. (at least we could save a couple of pounds on heating bills).

East Anglia is due east of Birmingham, as it ought to  be, so our satnav should have had no trouble planning the route. Everyone knows that you have to take the A14 to get to East Anglia but Tomtom had other ideas and the VW's built in navigation system even more,  so off we set in an easterly blizzard, into the unknown - much in the same way as Captain Lawrence 'Titus' Oates (I'm just going outside and I may be some time') did exactly 100 years ago to the day. 

It took us 5 hours to get to North Walsham so we did a bit better than Captain Oates
 who still hasn't turned up. The road took us through hundreds of charming sleepy villages with names like Little Snoring, Stiffkey and Happisburg.
I never realised how many counties we have in England. 

North Walsham is in Norfolk (Nelson's County pop. 12,634) and along with nearby Worstead, as lovers of fine textiles will know, was home to tides of migrant weavers from Flanders in Belgium who moved to Norfolk during the MIddle Ages in order to avoid the Black Death, the devastation of the Hundred Years War and because the wages were better.This was before the Referendum and they'll all have to go back soon. Nelson went to school there too.

                                                          Gerry Salisbury

Today North Walsham is home to our pal Gerry Salisbury who used to live on Calle Algorrobo in Álora with his devoted wife, Jean. Gerry is a jazz musician (bass, cornet and trumpet)
 Gerry Salisbury
 Gerry was a close friend of the very popular 'crooner'  Dickie Valentine in the 1950's and 60s (The Finger of Suspicion, The Christmas Alphabet). Dickie and two  band members died in a car crash in 1971 (a gig which Gerry only avoided because of session commitments).
Dickie Valentine

Gerry played in many of the British  Trad Jazz bands of the 50s and 60s ,before working as a session musician at Trident Studios where he met, among other bands, The Fab Four. He once asked me if I thought he could get any money for a guitar lead that John Lennon gave him.

                   Gerry with 'Herr' Lennie Hastings, (drummer with the Alex Welsh Band and famous for punctuating his drum solos by shouting 'Hoo-ya Hoo-ya!')

After a stroke, some years ago, he thought his trumpet days were over but by switching to a trombone mouthpiece he was soon blowing up a storm again. Sadly he never managed to master the  fanfare at the the start of Louis Armstrong's 'West End Blues.´
He moved to France 2007 where he built up and played in a local jazz orchestra. 
Gerry's hung up his trumpet now. He's still as chirpy as ever and busy leading a campaign to improve the quality of the vegetables at his current residence.

The Mini Beast was in full swing as we headed south from Norfolk to Suffolk (Constable Country), the other county of East Anglia (Cambridgeshire and Peterborough don't really count). 

This time both the satnavs agreed on the best route to Southwold (pop.1098), 'a charming north Suffolk seaside town on the Suffolk Heritage Coast'.

                                                 Southwold on a nice day

Spring had not yet arrived at Southwold. The Mini Beast From the East was giving its first landfall the full, bitter blast. Lucky for us our hosts, Forbes and Mary, live in a modern house with a good central heating system and no draughts. 
Southwold still looks good on postcards; it has a restored pier, a lighthouse and a  brewery, Adnams. So far it has escaped the coastal erosion which is slowly but surely eating away bits of the  two counties and gradually turning East Anglia into part of the East Midlands. Buildings are falling into the sea at an alarming rate. Stand back!!

 coastal erosion
You'd think the prospect of your house disappearing into the North Sea might have a downward affect on houses prices- but not a bit of it. Even one of the gaily painted wooden beach huts which line the promenade (no gas, no water, no electricity) is going for £120,000
A proper house in Southwold would set you back about half a million. A one bedroomed flat is about £250,000 so we won't be moving there in a hurry. Neither will anybody else, apparently. At the latest reckoning 49% of residential houses there are holiday homes or holiday lets and so the town is deserted during the week. I bet they aren't owned by Brummies! Too far to drive even if you go the right way. No surprise that the roads from London are very good. Some people have far too much money.

Forbes and Mary used to live in Álora too. They sold us the field where we grow our Olivar Caicunes olives. They are both artists, Forbes paints beautiful landscapes and striking portraits and Mary works in batik, a wax-resist dying process originating in Indonesia. She creates amazing landscapes and flower pictures in a (freezing cold) shed in the garden. We love them.

                                             Mary and Mrs. S. in the Studio

Mary used to be an actor in the 50s and 60s. She starred (as Mary Manson) in 'The Curse of the Fly' (1965) and Life in Danger (1959) . Forbes directed films and helped to set up Anglia TV. He says he is 91 but I don't believe him. Some of his stories are hard to believe too, but so far have  turned out to be true. He tells a lot of them in a book he had  published in 2013, 'Toy Town Telly (and Stone Age Filming) Forbes Taylor. 2013. Vanguard Press.

We only visit celebrities these days.

We managed to get lost on the way back from East Anglia which I blame on the tangled layout of the road system in this far flung region of the British Isles which was designed centuries ago to confuse the Vikings. They didn't even take down the road signs during World War 2 - it was more confusing if they left them up.

On Sunday morning we went down to the beach to give the dogs, Tommy and Monty, a run. It was far too cold and dangerous so the dogs went back into the car and we went into the warm, snug Beach Cafe on the pier. (The pier was closed as a safety measure).

                                                         Jackie and Julie

At the next table were Jackie and Julie from Berkshire, tucking into a couple of Full English Breakfasts.They  run a 'reindeer hiring company' (Reindeer 4 Hire) (honest!). Business is a bit slack after Christmas, apparently, so Jackie had come to Southwold to check her two properties- a cottage and a beach hut. I asked about the prices of beach huts. She'd just had £5,000 worth of work done on hers and had been offered £100,000 for it.

Apart from John Constable and Admiral Horatio Nelson there aren't many famous people associated with East Anglia. ( apart from Gryff Rees- Jones, Delia Smith, Bill Nighy, Ralph Fiennes,Dot out of Eastenders, Simon Mayo and Twiggy). The crime writer PD James had a couple of houses and a beach hut in Southwold and Beccles (pop. 10,123) was once the home of Ronnie Ronalde 1923-2015 who was a 'siffleur' ,which, somewhat surprisingly, is still legal. His greatest hit was, 'If I were a blackbird'

Perhaps the most famous son of Suffolk at the moment is the multi talented and inexplicably popular singer/songwriter Ed Sheeran who was born in Framlington  (pop.3,342) one of the many villages we passed through while trying to find the A14 near  Ipswich.
My favourite East Anglian celebrity is  the now almost forgotten Allan Smethurst (1927-2000) who went by the name of The Singing Postman .

                                       Allan Smethhurst. The Singing Postman

Alan had a big 'novelty' hit in 1966 with ´Hev yew got a Loight Boy' which won an Ivor Novello Award and fought the The Beatles and Rolling Stones for 'the number one slot´'. His follow ups, 'My Miss From Diss' and 'Moind Yer Hid Boy' failed to chart. Sadly, success had already gone to Allan's head and he hit the bottle. That's rock and roll for you!

Hev Yew Got a Loight, Boy

Although The Singing Postman sang in the  Norfolk dialect he was actually born in Lancashire at Walshaw, near Bury, which incidentally is the home of the best black puddings in the world.
This brings me to that always popular item;

Pie News

I'd like to be able to tell you that I had sampled some of East Anglia's world famous pies but the weather was so cold and windy that apart for a trip to Southwold pier we didn't go out and about.  Also it was Sunday which, as all pie enthusiasts will know, is not a good day to go pie hunting.

I'm off to see if I can sell my new shed.
See you in Álora.

Juanito Sánchez March 22nd. 2018



Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Man not in Álora on Wisdom, Truth, Fiction, Fake News and a Big Bore..

Man not in Álora on  Wisdom, Truth, Fiction, Fake News and a Big Bore

There's a lot of talk at the moment about 'fake news'. I find it particularly worrying because there are murmurings that even this popular and informative organ may have, from time to time, strayed from the path of righteousness and been a little economical with the truth. I would like to say to all those of you who depend on Man in Álora to keep you al día (up to date) with all the goings on in the world that, apart from the highly acclaimed feature Pie News (see below), not a word written here should be taken as 'news' - even some of the pies and particularly those 'quasi-pies' called 'pasties' pictured here in the past have seen better days.
I'm glad we've got that out of the way.

I'd like to welcome all our readers in Russia.
добро пожаловать (Welcome)
According to my 'audience figures' 319 of you have read my last post so far- or one of you has read it 319 times . 
Speaking of 'fake news', (doesn't that just mean 'lies'?) why all the fuss? 
We all tell the odd porky pie now and then don't we ? especially to children who will believe anything, but we don't expect to find a 'fairy story' in the Non Fiction section at the local library (if we've still got one) do we? Who can we trust to tell us the truth?

Apparently, telling lies only matters when you tell them in a newspaper or another mass medium of communication when millions of people can be told the same story all at the same time. Should we expect them to tell us the truth?
My Dad, Juanito Snr., always told me not to believe all I read in the newspapers so I don't. He said that all the newspapers were owned by rich men and they printed lies all the time to keep down the working classes and persuade them to vote for the Tories. But that was a long time ago. We now have radio, films, television and social media which are owned by, er, well, mostly rich men. Even so, The President of The United States of America, Donald Trump, keeps banging on about fake news, mostly stories about himself, and he's rich enough to own hundreds of newspapers and is a pal of Rupert Murdoch who does own hundreds of newspapers AND television stations, so what's his problem, apart from being bald, racist, sexist and mad (all allegedly).

Here's my Top Five Fake News Stories

1. In 1924, 4 days before a general election,  the Daily Mail printed a forged letter from  a bigshot Russian Communist, Gregory Zinoviev telling British communists to take over the Labour Party. Labour lost the election.

                                        Gregory Zinoviev (or Spike Milligan)

2. In 1989 the Sun led a campaign of lies, provided by the police, to blame Liverpool football supporters for the deaths of 96 of their fellow supporters. Interesting headline.

3. In 1985 the British Press organised a campaign against Winston Silcott, 'The Beast of Broadwater Farm' blaming him for the death of PC Keith Blakelock and and he was convicted on virtually no evidence. His conviction was quashed on appeal in 1991.

                                                         Winston Silcott

4. In 878 King Alfred burnt some cakes. This was story put out by the Wessex Advertiser to discredit the king.
                                                           Alfred the Great

5. .In 2018 Man in Álora said that Donald Trump was bald.

Fake News!!!!!!!

The trouble is you don't know who to believe these days.

In the good old days senior citizens  were seen as the people to go to for advice. They had lived a bit, seen lots of things and possessed wisdom. This is how it might have gone:

'Daddy, why do elephants have big floppy ears?'

'Go and ask grandad, Matilda, my child,. he's bound to know'.

You don't get much of that these days, do you? except perhaps in Soufourolaye or Romney Marsh where broadband and 4g haven't reached yet. Wisdom has no value anymore and old people just get in the way and can't even remember what they had for breakfast. A more likely scenario these days would be Matilda 'googling' a question on her Iphone 8 plus or simply  just saying;

'Alexa. Why does Grandad smell of piss?'

I've been told not to believe all I read on Wikipedia  too, because anyone can write anything there. I just can't tell what is true and what is bollocks these days. Help!

Here's an example of what I mean;

If you've ever been to Tooting Common (Bec or Graveney) in South London, England  you may have noticed an annoying high pitched screech and took it it to be a couple of local women sharing memories of the previous evening's 'Strictly', 'I'm a Celebrity', 'Britain's Got Talent' or 'Gay People Dancing on Ice'.
But no. Look above your head. Do you see a flash of green?. There's another. See! Lo!
It's a Rose Ringed Neck Parakeet. (Psittacula Kramen).

                             A Ring Necked Parakeet eating a macadamia nut

Beautiful plumage. And there's lots of them. Further enquiries reveal that these tropical tweeters are all over South London, Surrey, and Kent. According to Dave Parrot (believe THAT if you like) of ParrotNet there are up to 200,000 of the little blighters in the south alone, putting pressure on local services and ravaging gardens and allotments in search of macadamia nuts and sunflower seeds. They are said to be driving out all the local British  birds from Carshalton Beeches and taking all the jobs. But how did they get there from Africa in the first place?

My son-in-law, Miguel, tells it like this:

When they were filming 'The African Queen', starring Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn, at Shepperton Studios in 1951 they brought in a few parakeets as extras. (the rose ringed parakeet is native to Africa) but they soon escaped to look for food because nobody in the film crew had thought to bring any sunflower seeds or macadamia nuts which are the favourite fodder of this elegant fowl. And now they've even crossed the M25 and M2 , heading for  The Isle of Dogs  and Boreham Wood looking for more macadamia nuts and  the flocks of South American Monk or Quaker parrots that live in the wild there and are their arch enemies. I wouldn't like to be around when the fighting starts.

                         Katharine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart in 'The African Grey'
Sounds plausible to me.

Another theory is that the original birds escaped from the aviary at Syon Park near Kew when a lump of ageing Boeing 707 fuselage fell from the sky, narrowly missing The Duke of Northumberland but completely destroying most of his collection of rare exotic birds and a statue of Marie Antoinette.

                                  Hugh Algernon Percy. Duke of Northmberland
                                                          (a narrow escape)
Could have happened.

This is my favourite:

There's a bloke called Dave that drinks in the Tom Cribb pub in Panton Street SW 1 who swears he saw Jimi Hendrix release a pair of Rose Ringed Neck Parakeets in Carnaby Street in 'the late sixties'. He can't be more specific for obvious reasons.

My point is...who can you believe these days?

Incidentally, this might be the time and place to mention that my friend Alan Jones's father, who was also called Percy, owned a Rose Necked Parakeet back in the 1950s. It had been brought back to Wales as a present by his brother, Archie, who was a merchant seaman. During the voyage back from Johannesburg Archie had trained the bird to 'return home' much in the same way as homing pigeons are trained  but by using macadamia nuts instead of black (pigeon) peas. Unfortunately young Alan let the bird escape through an open window just after it had eaten a hearty lunch and it would not come back. He was sent to bed in disgrace even though it was only 1.30 pm.

                                                        Alan's Uncle Archie
I think it's doubtful that Percy's parakeet can have been responsible for the Tooting Common parakeet population. Where would it have found another parakeet in Tonnypandy? Can parakeets fly the 143 miles (as the crow flies) to London. If a crow can do it, why can't a parakeet?

Back in Álora, Antonio and Flores who run the little grocery shop in La Plaza Baja (Lo Mas Natural) told me they were coming to England for a few days in January. As is always the case they were going no further than London on their trip, not even to Oxford. I was unable to tempt them up to Birmingham for a day, even with the promise of a trip to Stratford-upon-Avon which is just down the road (A34) and well worth a visit.

                                                         Stratford -Upon Avon

Unfortunately The Midlands  do not attract many foreign visitors (Stratford -upon-Avon excepted). Have we got nothing to offer them here? Apparently not, except work. A nephew of Pepe Díaz used to work at IKEA in Coventry.
Mrs. Sánchez and I have decided to act as the unofficial tourist board in an effort to build up tourism round here.


Obviously Birmingham would be the epicentre of a trip to the Midlands with its hotels, restaurants and clubs, its world famous Museum and Art Gallery (we've got almost all the Pre-Raphaelite paintings in the world, I'm told) and its canals which outnumber those in Venice. I could go on.
But what is there outside 'Brum'? (as we affectionately call the second city)
Well, there's The Severn Bore. for a start. ('The Severnth Wonder of the World') (I made that up).
The Severn Bore

Only an hour away from Birmingham  by car lies Minsterworth and The Severn Bore Inn, named after the River Severn and a phenomenon, 'The Seven Bore' which takes place during every 'spring tide'. Twice a month at high tide in Sharpness a tidal wave heads up river and, as it reaches the narrows by Minsterworth, the wave grows to an amazing height. People come from miles around to watch the event which is even more spectacular when the moon is unusually near to the earth which it was last week. Tides as high as 10 metres were predicted. Some people even attempted to surf on the tidal wave.
Now isn't that worth a visit? Let's just say it's aptly named.

Pie News

Holland's Pies available at Asda

Apart from 'artisan' pies, 'gourmet' pies and the like, the best 'mass produced' pies are made by Holland's of Baxenden. They are pies to be eaten hot as are their close cousin the steak and kidney pudding. They are not to be confused with 'Pork Pies' which can also be scrumptious but which are usually eaten cold so that the jelly stays set.

I've been eating Holland's pies for as long as I can remember, which these days is last Friday. Unfortunately the Sánchez family fortunes have taken us further and further away from Lancashire, (Pieshire´), and the birthplace of the modern 'hot water pastry' pie and coincidentally, Uncle Joe's Mintballs, Wigan.

There are other great names in the pie pantheon; Greenhalgh, Poole and Galloway to name but two, but outside of Wigan itself Holland's have taken the Lancashire meat pie as far afield as Yorkshire, Birmingham and just about anywhere you can find an Asda. You can only buy them frozen but with careful handling and heating they are nearly as good as the fresh fellows. Last Friday I stocked up just a couple of miles down the road in Kings Heath. 16 pies and 4 steak puddings and I'll be back again as soon as there's room in the freezer.It makes life away from Álora almost bearable.

This week's Quiz

Which painted lump of wood had it's own, very successful radio show in the 1950s?

Answers, as usual, on a 50€ note.

Juanito Sánchez January 13th. 2018.