Category Archives: San Sebastian

WONDERFUL WALKIT APP

From Oxford Circus
From Oxford Circus

My son Bernard suggested this fabulous App.

My problem is that I’d like to take more exercise but my bad hip starts to ache quite quickly and I avoid walking whenever I can.

The beauty of this Walkit App is that I can choose a starting pont – near home or near where the bus stops – and look up the slowest 15 minute walk. I can only actually manage half of that before the pain is too bad, so I plan on walking only that much, but It does give me something to aim for.

Living as we do in Central London, walks per se can be fairly boring. This way, by having a goal I find interest in watching the steps pile up on my pedometer.

Of  course I shouldn’t have worn those thick-soled shoes in the first place.

Memoir extract
It was vanity, sheer vanity. I’d missed out on Doc Marten’s when they were all the rage and when I saw the thick-soled boots in the Ecco shop I couldn’t resist them. I should have given them to Oxfam after I tripped hurrying to get to the Post Office before it closed. That time I’d only skinned the palms of my hands and tore a hole in my jeans. When I tripped crossing the road in San Sebastian, I broke my hip. Continue reading WONDERFUL WALKIT APP

ANOTHER LOVELY WEEKEND IN SAN SEBASTIAN

Blue sky; blue sea
Blue sky; blue sea

Well the sun did shine some of the time, though it also rained some days – though it doesn’t matter if you’re staying with your lovely family, all busy getting on with work and school and Uni.

Made our usual pilgrimages to the Basque supermarket Eroski and across the border to Quiksilver and Carrefour. As usual had an excellent lunch at the Quiksilver café but for once didn’t buy any jackets there or bread flour in Carrefour.

STRAWBERRIES FOR TEA ANYONE?

Fresh from San Sebastian
Fresh from San Sebastian

 

Louise and her family come over from San Sebastian Easter, August and Christmas – during the school and college holidays. They always come bearing goodies – this time they brought this delicious box of strawberries and jars of my favourite pickled peppers.

Basque Pickled Peppers
Pickled Peppers from the Basque country

We’ve tried buying picked peppers in London but have only been able to find the fatter tough peppers that are best used for cooking. I like to have a pickled pepper in my home-made cream cheese sandwiches.

 

I might try  this tongue twister on my Basque grandchildren.

‘Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.
A peck of pickled peppers Peter picked.
If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers
Where’s the peck of pickled peppers Peter picked?’

I wonder who remembers how much a ‘peck’ is – 9.0923 litres or ¼ bushel. A bushel is a measure of volume (1.2445 cubic feet or 8 gallons) used originally for quantities of grain, fruit or other produce, so the actual weight would vary depending on the contents.
As a children in pre-WW2 London we had to learn all these old measures like rods,  poles, perches and  chains as measurements of length.  Acres (4840 square yards) are still used as measures of area, particularly in farmland.

FRANCINE BREAD MIX

 

Bread Mix
French Bread mix

One of the reasons I always liked to go to Carrefour in Bayonne when we went to visit Louise in San Sebastian, was to buy Francine Farine aux Cereales (Granary flour) and packets of their salad seeds but then I found that Sainsbury’s Wholegrain Seeded bread flour and Lidl Wholefood Seed Mix were pretty well as good.
I recently saw the Francine logo in the flour section in Waitrose but it was to find that they stock the bread mix not the flour. However I thought I would give it a try – after all you just tip the contents into your loaf tin, add cold water, put your loaf tin into your bread machine and 4 hours later you have a crusty loaf.
To my taste, the resulting loaf was a bit too salty and at £1.89 more expensive than combining my own ingredients but great as a standby.

Supermarkets to make your mouth water

Vegetables in our local Tesco
Vegetables in our local Tesco

There’s no doubt that our local Tesco is going upmarket. Its produce is better and I have now started to buy meat there but unlike the big Spanish supermarkets I need a shopping list, rather wandering around and getting inspired

Pick your own
Pick your own

I think the big difference, for example in this Basque supermarket Eroski,  is that except for potatoes and oranges all the produce is laid out for you to choose.  Doesn’t matter if it’s been handled by someone else – you’re going to wash it anyhow. Everything is so much more tempting. When we go to visit Louise I often wish I was the cook – but I don’t cook in her flat and she doesn’t cook when she comes to us.

Best of all are the big covered markets like the one in Valencia, where we had a long weekend with our daughter Jane and stayed in a hotel. There was every kind of delicious looking food on sale  and I regretted that we hadn’t taken an apartment instead where I could cook our dinner.  You wouldn’t have to plan the next meal and take a shopping list – just wander around and be tempted.

San Sebastian and my Fruit Cake

Looking out to sea
Looking out to sea

Off to see Louise in San Sebastian in a couple of weeks. Her parents-in-law have invited us to Sunday lunch so I am baking them a rich fruit cake, well-laced with Drambuie. I use a Tefal kugel-type silicone cake mould – I always found my cakes stuck to my Kugelhopf metal tin, even though it was non-stick and well-greased. I  bought the non-stick metal tin originally to make a yeast Kugelhopf cake. I love the slightly sour taste the yeast gives to it but a traditional English-type fruit cake is safer – especially if it is alcoholic enough.

Why I set off Airport Alarms

My right hip replacement
My right hip replacement

It happens every time as I try to leave the country. As I go through security I set off the alarm. It’s that enormous piece of metal in my right femur that does it. Then I  have to be patted down by a grim-faced female security guard. I suppose they’re not allowed to smile at a suspected terrorist, though they are helpful and all smiles once I’ve been frisked. I’ve thought of taking a doctor’s letter or my X-ray but I suppose they’d be discounted, since I couldn’t prove they related to me.

My daughter Louise was expecting her second baby any day, so I had flown to Spain to help look after her family. Instead I spent 10 days in Hopital San Dios on the hillside above San Sebastian. I had to get special permission from the surgeon to slip out and see my new grandson.

It was vanity, sheer vanity. I’d missed out on Doc Marten’s when they were all the rage and when I saw the thick-soled boots in the Ecco shop I couldn’t resist them. I should have given them to Oxfam after I tripped hurrying to get to the Post Office before it closed. That time I’d only skinned the palms of my hands and torn a hole in my jeans. When I tripped crossing the road in San Sebastian, I broke my hip. I had a total replacement under an epidural anaesthetic.

There was no nonsense about being woken at six in the morning as I would have been in an English hospital. Food seemed to arrive every couple of hours. It started with coffee and croissants at 8am; then mid-morning coffee and biscuits, a delicious three course lunch, a mid-afternoon snack, an equally delicious three course dinner and, of course, a snack before bedtime. The nurses worried that I didn’t eat enough but I just couldn’t eat it all. I worried I’d never be able to lose the weight I must have put on.

I was worried that the bone had fractured though a site of secondary spread from my breast cancer of 10 years before but it was osteoporosis and Anno Domini.

From my memoir Woman in a White Coat