Category Archives: Basque Country

AREN’T GRANDCHILDREN WONDERFUL?

Our Basque grandchildren – now aged 21 and 24

Those of us who want children, and have them, are fortunate indeed, but having grandchildren is even better.

It’s not just that you can give them back when you and they have had enough. Much of the time you are tired and uptight when your own children are young, but most of us are more relaxed and laid back by the time we are old enough to have grandchildren. They bring you enormous joy – especially when they are little. My mother would say it’s Nachus and Yichus – joy especially from children and family.

Our elder son and elder daughter have each got a daughter and a son. Simon and his wife are doctors who worked in Zimbabwe, and then Malawi, while their children were young. Not wanting to be separated by thousands of miles, they came back to the UK when our grand-daughter was about to go to UNI. Until then, we saw the children only when they came to stay with us for a couple of weeks each summer, so we missed much of their growing up.

Louise, our elder daughter, took the TEFL language teaching test after graduating. Her first job was in the Basque Country where she met my son-in-law and she has lived there ever since. Fortunately, she and her husband are both teachers and until COVID the family was able to come and visit each school holiday.

Of course, it was lovely seeing them all, but I would much have preferred to have them living next door or at least in the same city.

The story behind the attached photo goes back to the late 1960s and our John Dobbie toyshop. We stocked as many handmade toys and country crafts as we could find. The doll’s pram with our grandson in it came from our shop. It was one of the items we took home for our children to play with.

We lived near Wimbledon tennis at the time and I decided to buy something in Southfields, taking Louise and Jane, then aged 4 and 2 with me. Louise decided she wanted to take her doll in the wicker pram and I pushed Jane in a pushchair. When it was time to go home. Louise refused to walk and sat crying on the pavement in the embarrassing way children do, making me feel an idiot. Putting Jane into the doll’s pram, I strapped Louise into the pushchair and struggled home pushing the pushchair and pulling the pram behind me.

The pram was one of the items Louise took with her when she moved to Spain. The photo is a souvenir of that walk from our home to Southfields.

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

 

 

 

 

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.

PAIN AU CHOCOLAT FOR OUR WRITERS’ CIRCLE

Pains au Chocolat baked from frozev
Pains au Chocolat baked from frozen

I like to provide home-made cake or muffins for the meetings of our Writers Circle but the last time we went to Sainsbury’s they had sold out of plain ready-to-bake croissants so I thought I would try their ready to bake Pains au Chocolat. I don’t really care for sweet things so I only had half of one but the rest were gone in a flash as soon as we pulled our left-over Christmas Crackers  .
We always have crackers on New Year’s Eve – Louise and her family spend Christmas with her in-laws in the Basque Country but from December 27th to January 5th with us. Twelfth Night (January 6th) is a big day in Spain so I’m always sad when January 5th comes round and they leave in time to celebrate The Three Kings (Los Tres Reyes) at home.

 

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.

Another off to Uni

Yes - well he doesn't quite look like that now!
Yes – well he doesn’t quite look like that now!

Yet another grandchild off to Uni. He’s got more teeth now and he’s no longer into dusting.

Unlike my Basque grand-daughter he’s going to take a gap year – work for a while to earn some money and probably trek around India. His mother did the same when she was his age. The Basques tend to go straight on to Uni from school – as we did in the old days.