Thursday, March 16, 2017

Another Michelin Star restaurant

With our favourite restaurant, L'Antic Moli, being awarded a Michelin Star I decided to look at other restaurants in the area with similar awards.


The small town of Ulldecona is within striking distance and the restaurant Les Moles, which also has a Michelin Star, is located there so we decided to give it a go.


And we weren't disappointed. At 18€ for the menú del día it is a little more costly but we felt this was acceptable as the quality of the food was very good and of course a bottle of wine and a bottle of water were included...


...as was the bread which consisted of delicious rolls in an assortment of 5 different flavours. For postre I had the best Crema Catalana ever!


We always finish off the meal with a coffee and it was served in the cup shown in the photo above. It wasn't plastic - it was ceramic the same as an ordinary coffee cup. Quirky!

Friday, March 10, 2017

We're in the local paper!

A couple of weeks ago Beatriz, a reporter for a local paper, La Comarca, contacted us and said she would like to talk to us about coming to Spain and our lives here. Last week she came to visit us one morning. We had also invited our friend Carmen, who is Spanish and speaks perfect English, to be there just so there would not be any misunderstandings as Beatriz doesn't speak English and our Spanish is open to question at times. Today the article was published.


Beatriz took the photo outside our house looking towards the village and sent it to us for approval. I cropped it and that is the one which was used in the newspaper article.

Here is the translation from Spanish:

Retirement to Torre del Compte after years of work.

At this point in March spring appears with almond trees surrounding the Phillips home. Margaret and Colin open the door of their house and greet me with a big smile and with a gesture of "follow me". We pass through the kitchen to the terrace. «This is the reason why we moved to Torre del Compte», they say.

There are no words to describe it. It's the1st of March and the almond trees have blossomed. In the background is the centre of the village and the silhouettes of others such as La Fresneda and even the Andorra thermal power plant smoke. (Note: I did point out that you could only see the smoke in the very distant sky from the power station as there was no wind. Normally the wind carries it away and the debris falls on Ibiza!)

Both were born in the northeast of England, near Sunderland. Colin, in the mining town of Easington until his family moved to Peterlee and Margaret was born in Hartlepool. "In England it is common to move a lot," they explain. Their last residence was Hastingwood, Harlow, near London, where they lived for 25 years going into the capital daily to teach. Colin was a teacher of technology at a secondary school and Margaret taught lessons of textiles and graphic arts in another school where she became part of the management team. When they took early retirement they made the decision to settle in Spain. "We were looking for a home on the Mediterranean coast, but there was a lot of traffic noise and too many people," they explained. The first option of internal Spain was Horta de Sant Joan then Torre del Compte. «To see these sights we thought it was as if we had died and gone to heaven», they reflected.

One couple more in the village.

They recall their eleven years in Torre del Compte while we were having a cup of tea which was welcome. "Five o'clock is usually tea-time, here it is all day», they laugh. The glances of complicity are continuous between the two. They do not hide their joy at having ended up in the place in which they live. «We have been very lucky because the people are wonderful,» they say. Although this house is a frequent centre of celebrations, they have their peña, the Katacroc, and their daily activities. Margaret goes to pilates in La Fresneda while Colin develops other hobbies. "Each year I have a different one," he says. The most recent is a type of welding. «You have your boilersuit and everything», laughs Margaret. That may be so but Colin enjoys another skill: photography. Everything that happens in the village is captured by his lens and shared in his blog: theverybestblogever.blogspot.com.es. Part of the organization of these events is the Association of Housewives, (Amas de Casa), which Margaret became President of for two years. "I don't know how it happened. «I said no to being Secretary and Treasurer so being the President fell to me!», she recalls with amazement. In fact, all were surprised. "It's all so different. All the people eating together in the Plaza at fiestas. We would never have thought about it".

They go to Spanish classes in La Fresneda and they are learning more and more every day. "I am 34 years old in each leg," says Colin in a show of patriotic mood arousing laughter in his wife and Carmen, one of the friends made thanks to the activities. She is a teacher of English at the adult school in Alcañiz and one of those lending a hand with more difficult interpretations with Spanish. They met her when they gave a presentation at the official language school, an activity that is repeated every time they ask. They have talked about various issues such as legends, myths and traditions.


Then Colin, eyes fixed on the window that overlooks the incredible views, relates a story for the first of March, the day of St. David, the patron Saint of Wales. Finally, as they were expecting, the question of Brexit arises. «It is too early to talk about the effects», they explain. And with regard to the future, "We want to continue enjoying everything," they sigh.



And the original Spanish version:

A estas alturas de marzo la primavera asoma en los almendros que rodean el hogar de los Phillips. Margaret y Colin abren la puerta de su casa y reciben al que llega con una enorme sonrisa antes de iniciar camino con un gesto de «sígueme». Tras atravesar la cocina aparece la terraza. «Aquí tienes la razón por la que nos quedamos en Torre del Compte», dicen.
No hay palabras. Es primero de marzo y los almendros han estallado. Al fondo se ve el casco urbano del pueblo y las siluetas de otros como La Fresneda e incluso el humo de la Central Térmica de Andorra.
Ambos nacieron en el noreste de Inglaterra, en la zona de Sunderland. Colin, en el pueblo minero de Easington hasta que se trasladó a Peterlee, y Margaret nació en Hartlepool. «En Inglaterra es frecuente moverse mucho», explican. La última residencia del matrimonio fue Hastingwood, en Harlow, muy cerca de Londres, donde vivieron 25 años desplazándose a diario a la capital para dar clase. Colin era profesor de Tecnología en un instituto y Margaret impartía lecciones de Textil y Artes Gráficas en otro centro donde llegó a ser parte del equipo directivo. En el momento de la jubilación tomaron la decisión de establecerse en España. «Buscamos una vivienda en toda la costa mediterránea pero había mucho ruido y gente», explican. La primera opción de interior fue Horta de Sant Joan y la siguiente, Torre del Compte. «Al ver estas vistas pensamos que era como morir y estar en el cielo», reflexionan.

Una pareja más del pueblo
Rememoran sus once años en Torre del Compte mientras dan sorbos al té con el que amablemente reciben al que llega. «Lo del té de las cinco es mentira, aquí es todo el día», ríen. Las miradas de complicidad son continuas entre los dos. No esconden su felicidad por haber recalado en un lugar en el que viven y conviven. «Hemos tenido mucha suerte porque la gente es maravillosa», cuentan. Aunque su casa es frecuente centro de celebraciones, tienen su peña, la Katacroc, y sus tareas diarias. Margaret acude a pilates a La Fresneda mientras Colin desarrolla otras aficiones. «Cada año tengo una», asegura. La última tiene que ver con un tipo de soldadura. «Tiene su traje y todo», ríe su esposa. Eso sí, Colin goza de una habilidad permanente: la fotografía. Todo lo que sucede en el pueblo es captado por su objetivo y compartido en su blog: theverybestblogever.blogspot.com.es. Parte de la organización de esos eventos es de la Asociación de Amas de Casa de la que Margaret llegó a ser presidenta dos años. «No sé cómo pasó. Dije que secretaria no, que tesorera tampoco y ¡me cayó el de presidenta!», recuerda aún con asombro. De hecho, todo les sorprendió. «Es todo diferente. ¿Comer todo el pueblo en la plaza en fiestas? Nunca lo habríamos pensado».
Acuden a clases de Castellano en La Fresneda y se van soltando cada vez más en el día a día. «Tengo 34 años en cada pierna», dice Colin en una demostración de humor patrio despertando la carcajada de su mujer y de Carmen, una de las amigas logradas gracias a las actividades. Es profesora de Inglés en la Escuela de Adultos de Alcañiz y una de las personas que les echa una mano con situaciones más complejas con el Castellano. La conocieron en una presentación que hicieron en la Escuela Oficial de Idiomas, actividad que repiten cada vez que se lo piden. Han hablado de varios temas como leyendas, malentendidos y tradiciones.
En ese momento Colin, con la mirada fijada en el ventanal que da a las apabullantes vistas, cae en la cuenta de que es primero de marzo, día de San David, patrono de Gales. Y, como ya estaban esperando, cae la pregunta del Brexit. «Es demasiado pronto para hablar de efectos», argumentan. Y respecto al futuro, prefieren dejarse llevar. «Queremos seguir disfrutando», suspiran.
BEATRIZ SEVERINO

Here's another photo which Beatriz took and I cropped:


I think Beatriz made the right choice for the newspaper. However, yet another experience.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Santa Águeda

The celebration of Santa Águeda is here again. This is a special day for the ladies of the village which starts in the bar with breakfast.


As you can see from the photo above there was a good turnout.


Breakfast consisted of a hearty jamón bocadillo.


In the afternoon there was the service in the church...


...and Santa Águeda was taken around the village.


After the service everyone returns to the salón for the special cakes,...


...cava and entertainment.


A good time was had by all!

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Gran Canaria

We're into January and it's time for our annual trip to Puerto Rico in Gran Canaria for a spot of winter sun.


Each year we go to the same hotel, Riosol, and almost the same apartment with the same view.


The great advantage of going to the same place each year is that we have, as far as we are concerned, done everything. 


Because of this, we don't have to go exploring the island - we can have a relaxing holiday!


This year the holiday was rather like déjà vu.


There may have been different plants in flower...


...but for the most part, we had done it before...


...even down to our return visit to Cocodrilo Park to see the Fennec foxes and all their other wonderful creatures,...


...the photos of the sunrise...


...and sunset,...


...the visit to Montecristo gardens...


...to see the exotic plants and works of art...


...and the pleasant walk along the front at Puerto Rico...



...not forgetting the stop for coffee.



We also had a walk along the front of the next beach, Amadores,...


...which is very popular with sun worshippers of all ages and consequently is packed out. You don't come here to get away from it all!


One thing we did different this year was to go with a group of people from our hotel to the village of Valsequillo to their Almond Festival. The town, half way up the mountains on the east side of the island, was absolutely thronging with visitors...




...as well as displays of farm animals, artisan stalls selling produce of every description...


...and groups of musicians and dancers where you just had to join in. A great day out and another wonderful holiday!

To see the short video of my performance as a dancer, click HERE.

To see the short video of us feeding the deer at Cocodrilo Park, click HERE.

To see the short video of how to feed crocodiles at Cocodrilo Park, click HERE.

To see the short video of how to feed the tiger at Cocodrilo Park, click HERE.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

HONA'S GONE....

HONA'S GONE.... A very sad day, especially as we are on holiday, This morning the vet phoned us to tell us that Hona needed a serious, urgent operation on her stomach and may not recover so we had to make a very difficult decision. We felt that this was the kindest thing to do especially as she had been suffering from arthritis and she had lost the use of her left hind leg. 


During her life she had survived 2 invasive treatments for Leishmania but despite all this she had had a very good life and had given us lots of love and devotion. She was greatly loved by all who came into contact with her and will be sadly missed. We are devastated by the loss of an adorable, intelligent and loyal friend who will be remembered for ever.

This was one of the last photos I took of Hona, the reindeer antlers arrived a few days after Christmas!


We are having her cremated and in the spring will plant a tree in the garden with her ashes sprinkled in the hole to provide nourishment and be a permanent reminder if we ever needed one!



Thursday, January 5, 2017

3 Kings

Thursday 5th January comes very quickly but not quick enough for the children as this is when they get their main Christmas presents from the 3 Kings who bore gifts to the baby Jesus.


It always seems strange that the day after the 6th January is a holiday then it's back to work as usual.


This means that the children normally don't have long to play with their new toys.


However, this year was much better as the event was followed by a weekend and the children go back to school on Monday morning after they have enjoyed their toys for a few days.


As usual we had the torchlit procession through the village following the Kings and their 3 Pages on the trailer pulled by a tractor from the salón next to the bar...


...through the Plaza Mayor...


...to the Church where the tractor turned...


...the Kings and their Pages posed...


...then got back onto the trailer...


...and everyone followed them back through the Plaza Mayor...


...and down the main street back to the salón next to the bar. 


This year we had fireworks by light from the moon.


The Kings and their Pages positioned themselves on the stage... 


...and everyone, young and old, eagerly waited while the names of the recipients were called out...


...to collect their presents.



Our presents came from our good friends Maria and Juan...


...who had made a special effort to be in the village for this occasion.


Maria is getting so good at taking group selfies!