Category Archives: Spain

TOURS IN THE TIME OF COVID (With a nod to Gabriel García Márquez)

The cut-out policeman looks so real I nearly wished it Good Morning!!

Before Covid, we’d been on bus tours in Spain and to Prague, Vienna and Budapest, and on River Tours on the Rhine and the Danube, but now our tours seem to be confined to Tours of London Supermarkets.

I was born and brought up in the East End of London, then a poor, mainly Jewish district. We lived in a cold-water tenement on the third floor of Wentworth Dwellings in what was known as Petticoat Lane, though Petticoat Lane hasn’t existed as such for nearly 300 years. After a boundary rearrangement it was renamed Middlesex Street. We first lived in a third floor flat opening onto Goulston Street and then in one overlooking Wentworth Street, both streets crowded with food stalls on weekdays.

My mother went shopping every day – there were no fridges in the 1930s. We tried to stop milk going sour, and butter melting, by storing them in a mesh-fronted cupboard on our tiny balcony. We were rarely successful. There always seemed to be a cheesecloth bag hanging from the kitchen tap with soured milk turning into cream cheese.

One of my chores was to buy our bread, usually from Kossoff’s bakery opposite. If the total added up to a few pennies and one farthing (¼ penny), the assistants would tell me to forget the odd farthing, rather than bother to give me three farthings in change. My mother wouldn’t accept charity from anyone, so, having climbed the six sets of steep stone stairs to our flat on the third floor, I would have to go down again and take the farthing to the shop.

Now, of course, we have fridges and freezers and in a district like ours, where individual food shops have virtually disappeared, we shop once a week in supermarkets, not daily – usually Tesco or Sainsburys and occasionally Waitrose.

My favourite white bread flour is Allison’s Very Strong White Bread Flour. I first found it in Tesco but the last time I was about to run out they no longer had any in stock. I ordered some online from Amazon Fresh (Morrisons) but the road works in Victoria blocked the lorry entrance to our flats. To my chagrin, the delivery driver gave up and took my shopping back to the warehouse.

I saw online that both ASDA and Morrisons stock that flour and decided to visit each of them for the first time. Both are designed to make everything look as if it is at a cheaper price – some definitely cheaper than in our usual supermarkets but sometimes just less in the packet, so not really any cheaper.

After our Tour in the Time of Covid, we’ll stick to Tesco and Sainsburys alternately – we like some versions of our favourite products in one and some in the other. We’ll make an occasional trip to Waitrose – the most spacious feeling of them, for things not available at our usual stores.

However, when I next run out, if Tesco and Sainsburys don’t have my favourite flour in stock, I’ll make up a delivery order from ASDA or Morrisons, rather negotiating the nightmare junction that is at Elephant and Castle, and traipsing up the Old Kent Road or Walworth Road.

Read more of Abby’s stories in her memoir ‘Woman in a White Coat’ and her previous posts Abby’s Tales of Then and Now. You can Look Inside on the Amazon site and get a taster for free. ‘Woman in a White Coat’ is £2.99 for the Kindle version and £9.99 in paperback. ‘Abby’s Tales of Then and Now’ is £2.99 for the Kindle version and £12.99 for the 7” x 9” paperback. Both are illustrated in colour.
Woman in a White Coat

 

 

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

SCOTTISH ARTISTS AT THE QUEEN’S GALLERY, BUCKINGHAM PALACE (PART 1)

Another Interesting Exhibition
Another Interesting Exhibition

I found these paintings interesting more because of their historical background than their craft. For me these are not the greatest of painters but they cast a light on both the Royals of the time (Part 2  to follow) and the attitude of the painters to the depiction of traditional themes. Whereas the Dutch in the previous exhibition, Dutch Artists in the Time of Vermeer, are happy to show the seamier side of domestic life, the poor in The Penny Wedding and Blind Man’s Buff by Sir David Wilkie show only innocent enjoyment. Similarly the paintings of the Spanish like his The Defence of Saragossa or El Paseo and The Dying Contrabandista (guerrilla) by John Philip are romanticised, unlike the dark images of Spanish painters themselves like Goya and Velasquez.

El Paseo by John Philip
El Paseo by John Philip
The Dying Contrabandista by John Philip
The Dying Contrabandista by John Philip

 

 

 

Nerja

No 6 Los Huertos
No 6 Los Huertos

We used the lump sum I got when I retired to buy a terrace house in Nerja in the South of Spain..

When we bought No 6 Los Huertos, Nerja was a sleepy seaside village with cobbled streets, the occasional horse-drawn carriage and the classic white painted houses of the Alpujarras – the land south of the Sierra Nevada mountains.

From my memoir Woman in a White Coat
The small delicatessen cum supermarket on the corner, a furniture shop and a hairdresser supplied us with everything we needed.
For years we went there Christmas, Easter and in August – Joshua was still teaching at the dental hospital and had to take his summer holiday then – and one or other of our four children would join us. The simple fish restaurant 100 yards away served the catch of the day with crisp delicious chips cooked in locally pressed olive oil. Several restaurants in the centre served excellent local food.
On Sundays we would drive up the steep road to Frigiliana, browse the craft shops, buy yet another pottery dish and eat lunch in one of the many restaurants.