Monday 13th October 201 week 173 Spain.

     Its all crap!

    Good weekend? Ours was. I found a garage that sells diesel for 95 pence a litre! Practically wet myself pulling onto the forecourt. It was like stepping back in time. In the UK, the tax levy and VAT alone, accounts for 82p of the cost of a litre.

    We also found a supermarket that sold a cheeky and yet very palatable one litre bottle of vino for a £1. It makes you think: oil is a dwindling world resource which mankind relies on and if we ran out of it tomorrow we'd all be buggered. We'd have wars, famine, rationing, economic chaos and face the possible collapse of civilisation as we know it! and I dare say, they’d be a downside to it as well.

    Wine, on the other hand, is a drink made from water which falls annoyingly all too frequently from the sky and grapes which, really do grow on trees, albeit little stubby ones. And yet it's way more expensive than four star. Why is that? what's that all about?

 She's befuddled bless, doesn't know what to pick up next!

  I think oil producers wake up each morning and curse the infidel dogs who buy their product for a few dollars a barrel and then triple the price with tax. The inland revenue makes far more from oil than the poor old Arabs, and yet they get the flack, along with OPEC, for holding the world economies to ransom. I'll have nothing unkind said about the Arabs who, quite literately, oil the world economies.

    It was once said Spain was the place to retire to. And many OAP,s did. I know this because it was always a lot easier getting a doctors appointment and getting served at a post office was a breeze once the'd all left. Halcyon days indeed. Spain was a favourite with the Brits who, now at the end of their working lives, wanted better weather and their meagre pensions to stretch further.

    I've recently seen bad press about the Spanish economy, and how that affects ex-pats living here. But, to be honest, I don't understand that at all. I mean take the two price examples above. Owning and running a car in Spain is considerable cheaper then the UK. Owning and running an alcoholic wife is also considerably cheaper -Obviously I'm just guessing here-. With food, excluding fish, there's little difference. Rents are cheaper. I found a three bed house with an olive grove and a pool for £400 a month. Most property agents tell you that if you pay six months upfront, you can haggle. Ex pats can also enjoy a reasonably healthy exchange rate which, while it's dropped a long way from its pre EU days, still makes everything 25% cheaper.

    Forgt poundland this it crapland.

 On top of this you also have the Chinese Bazaar's here in Spain. Huge monolithic, aircraft hanger, sized shops filled to the rafters with all manner of Chinese crap at silly prices, they even make the British pound shops look pricey. I can't pass them. I've tried. They seem to have a hypnotic effect on me and Haze. You're drawn in as if by magnetism. I can spend an hour just wandering around, not looking for anything. I always walk out with something that looks like it came out of the Betterware catalogue. We went in one once last year and spent £19 and couldn't carry the stuff out the shop, there was that much of it.

    Right I'm rambling a bit here. So the point of today’s meanderings was erm... ’strewth!............. like I know.

 

 

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Tuesday 14th October 2014 Week 173 Spain

    Tale of two cities.

    We've moved on, 130 miles south toward Valencia. We drove through scenery which wouldn't have looked out of place in a spaghetti western. Which reminds me. There's a small town on the other side of Spain (El Rocio. Ed) where you can ride your horse into town, tie it to a hitching post and then mosey or sashay, depending on which team you bat for, into the local saloon. How cool is that?

    We arrived at camping Torra La Sal, north of the city of Castillion De La Plana by early afternoon. This site is of Biblical proportions. Apart from the normal facilities you'd expect to find at a five star site, this has three unique features: A football stadium. A thousand seater Bull ring and three dog grooming parlours all within the camp site. This is a camp site that Cecil. B. DeMille would have used to shoot the camping version, had he ever had the imagination to film it, of The Ten Commandments.

    It has around eight hundred pitches and yet had only two vacant when we arrived! People are here for the winter. And when I say people I mean the Germans. They make up about 70% of the population here. The Dutch 15%, French 5% and others 10%. We come under others.

    'Phil, why so many Germans?' you ask.

    Glad you did. Well the main reason is because, as pensioners, they're amongst the most affluent in Europe. They're well looked after by their government. They are not seen as a blight on the fiscal landscape like some governments I could mention. The basic German state pension is three times higher than ours. -This according to a 2014 Which report of European pensions-. And if that news doesn’t make you green with envy, try this. Under reforms proposed by their SDP party, they have agreed to LOWER the retirement age to 63. Bet you're wishing we hadn't won the war now. To be fair to the UK government, Germany does have a much smaller military budget. So while we might not be able to afford decent pensions, and you might all have to work till you drop to get one, you can at least take comfort in the knowledge we're one seriously kick-arse military power.

    This camp site is situated in a very odd little place called Marina d'Or. Thirty years ago, a chap, Mr Gur who sold kettles and fridges for a living, decided to turn his hand to property development -Spain had a booming property market then-. He decided to build a Holiday City consisting of 35,000 apartments. This was to include golf courses, shops, bars, restaurants and even a replica Eiffel tower. He had no money but sold the idea to those that had.

    Unfortunately for Mr Gur, just as they were topping off President Bush relaxed the US banking laws and that one act screwed us all. Now, no one wants them and Mr Gur went bust owing 700 Million.

    There are around 70 appartment blocks like this

    Today rows of huge apartment buildings stand like centennials, looking out toward the Mediterranean. They stand empty. Shuttered up. Most have have never seen an occupant. For sales signs pepper the buildings. The streets are eerily empty save for a handful of tourist. The holiday City is a ghost town, not the vision Mr Gur hoped it would be.

    The resort stands as a stark reminder of economic greed, unfettered capitalism and an idiotic President.

 

 

 

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 Wednesday 15th October 2014 week 173 Spain

    Saints preserve us.

    For 173 weeks I've not read a newspaper, watched the TV nor listened to the radio. So what's the result of this self-imposed media deprivation, if any? Well, for a start, I'm less stressed and more chilled out than I was when I did read, or watch the box, or listen to the radio. Primarily, because I've not a clue what's going on, ignorance truly is bliss. A meteor the size of the Isle of White could be on a collision course with Earth and I'd still be recycling my waste right up to the point of impact. So, my Ying & Yang is all sorted because I'vesimply less to worry about, I'm pretty much in the dark.

    Unfortunately most news depresses, worries, scares, or angers us all to varying degrees, rarely does it cheer us up. The News effects us like this because of one universal truth: You can't do a sodding thing about any of it. So you have to listen in silence. You can do what I used to do and that's throw things at the Telly -soft furnishing are ideal for this purpose- or occasionally ring up the BBC and complain about Jeremy Vine and that other idiot Mr Wogan, who spent every morning calling his listeners 'coffin dodgers'. How frekin cheerful was that?. I didn't want to drive to work each morning being reminded of my mortality. Who does? Now it may have simply been a question of timing, but shortly after my long and detailed email to the BBC on the subject of Mr Wogan's fatalistic approach to his listeners he was moved to the God slot on a Sunday. I feel a tad guilty about that now.

      Its okay. I was in little danger when this was taken. I know my way around Elephants.

  Back to the point. Today, living this kind of lifestyle I get my news from the internet. This way I can be selective. I read only those items that I have an interest in. And importantly: I don’t have to listen to someone else’s doom and gloom version of current events. Nor do I have to see, read, or listen to the same piece of news, on-the hour-every- hour, to the point where I can recite the whole thing back verbatim to Haze when she comes home from work.

What's not fully understood is that relentless bad news affects our attitudes. We are less likely to feel sympathy for some hapless twat whose been diddled out of his life savings because of a scam. We all respond by.......well calling him a twat for a start. His own fault, shouldn’t have been so trusting etc. Bad news hardens us.

    So, as I've said, I now cherry pick my news. So what did I pick out today? Well, here’s what attracted me. A featured item, no less, announced:

    Britain can expect more heavy rain!.

    Which is odd since when can't Britain expect more rain? Seems like stating the bloody obvious is now news worthy. Excuse me, but we're practically world renown for our rain. It's what makes Britain famous and keeps us perpetually moist. Most Europeans think it's either raining in Britain or we're all walking around lost in fog. The report went on to say: Police warn drivers of adverse road conditions. Really? Did a policeman, head of Scotland Yard's Weather Section, call a press conference and say.

    “Well lads it's going to rain some more, so like, watch out for puddles and shite”

    “Any idea how deep the puddles are going to be?” shouts an excited cub reporter from the rear of the room.

    “Good question. Tough to say, but deep. So let's take it easy out there. Right”

    The other thing the police love to tell us, mainly cause we're all too stupid to figure this out for ourselves is: We shouldn't make any unnecessary journeys. Right, so when there's a blizzard blowing and four foot of snow clogging up your driveway, best not to choose that moment to pop down to Tescos for a bag of Cat litter then. Where would we all be if our wonderful police and news service didn't issues such vital and life saving advice?, dead mostly I guess.

    To be continued.

 

 

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 Thursday 16th October 2014. Week 173

    Continued from yesterday

    So no, sane people don’t wait to be told: We shouldn't make any unnecessary journeys, we just don't. But that's never stopped the police from issuing a warning nor the media from reporting them.

    You might argue there are some right numpties out there who should be warned about such dangers. Well personally, any one dappy enough to drive in Arctic conditions deserves to end up frozen to their steering wheel. Harsh I know, but I've said this before, accidents are just natures way of culling the populace, taking out the weaker links. By saving idiots from themselves we only dilute the intellectual gene pool which in turn dumbs down humanity. If left unchecked none of us will know how to wipe our bottoms without instructions.

    The other news item that attracted me was a piece about disease. It said: Diseases you really don't want to get!, which suggests there are maybe disease you wouldn't mind getting and that got me thinking, is there? Well.........

   Its a big erm... arty thing

 Tourettes has to be a laugh a minute. It gives you carte-blanche to swear at people with impunity. You can call someone a 'twat face' -a favour of mine- and then, just before they punch you in the face, tell them you suffer with Tourettes. It's like a get out of jail free card for the habitually rude. It's certainly something I'd like to pursue.

    Then there's Cotard 's disease, also know as the walking corpse syndrome. It's where you believe you are dead. I think we all suffer bouts of this occasionally, especially when talking to really, really, really, boring people or is that wishful thinking?. I am curious however, what do sufferers think when they watch zombie movies. I mean, do they have any idea what’s going on? or do they just root for the zombies.

    Then there’s the little known 'Jumping Frenchmen of Maine syndrome'. First spotted in the 1800's, it affected only Canadian French lumberjacks. It resulted in an unusually extreme 'startled' look which, as symptoms go, is hardly a symptom at all. Certainly a look Gary Glitter perfected.

    Obviously in the light of recent developments, Ebola was high on the list of diseases you really don’t want to contract. They interviewed a British doctor who said, clearly in attempt to allay our fears: You can't catch Ebola from sitting next to someone on a bus. Now I don’t know about you, but I avoid sitting next to people with runny noses, So that advice is definitely cold comfort. Of course he failed, because he's wrong. He's just added to the mounting soup of misinformation surrounding the present outbreak, it's reached near panic in the USA. But if the guy sitting next to you sneezes, and let's remember here, snot and germ ridden detritus leaves your nose at 100mph, It's safe to say you'll breathe some of that in, at that point your goose is cooked.

    He did go on to give five tips on: How to avoid catching Ebola. Obviously avoid getting on a bus wasn't one of them.

    And lastly: The world problems caused by continuing wars, financial woes, security, famine etc. were all glossed over to bring you the earth shattering news that, and this was No.1 of the twelve featured news stories on the online Huffington post, Beyonce débuts a new hair cut!

    Still, I guess that’s gotta cheer twat face up.

    (All illnesses and conditions mentioned are genuine. Ed) And she should know.

 

 

 

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Friday 10th October 2014. Week 172. Espana

    What's on my mind today?

    Let's be honest, vegetarians can be a pain. (Oh shite, not a good start. Ed). Let me qualify that remark as, for a brief time, my daughter was one and she's a sensible lass, so not all, just some.

    Imagine this. You've invited a bunch of friends over for a meal of say, herb and pepper crusted Rib of beef, and one announces they've turned to lettucism. You're now forced to knock up a spinach quiche. You say, “It was no problem” because it's the correct social etiquette, even though you had to schlep across town to the supermarket for eggs. They reply with “Oh! you really shouldn’t have bothered”. You of course, wished you hadn't had to.

    I've long standing issues with vegetarianism. For a start: if we all decided tomorrow to turn to it, there wouldn't be enough tofu to go around and having tasted the stuff I'm not sure that’s altogether a bad thing.

    I'm convinced if we all tried to get our protein from say, pulses, nuts, and beans instead of meat, I seriously doubt there's sufficient land to grow the crops we'd need to meet the demand. Beef cows provide a lot of protein. They do this by eating something we can't, grass, the most abundant plant on the planet. But my objections go deeper. Vegetarianism is surely a western luxury? an option we can indulge in. This while half the worlds population struggle just to get something to eat, let alone choose from the slim line, low calorie, lo salt, contains no nuts, additives or preservatives vegetarian option.

    It would seem we are being brain washed by TV dietitians and nutritionists who in my book should all be packed off to Ethiopia for six months for a reality check. I should imagine once you’ve witnessed kids climb rubbish tips looking for food you'll return feeling slightly more focused on the real issues of food.

     Hardly the right message, but part of the brain washing process. Perhaps if they just ate less.

   I'm also not convinced of the supposed health benefits. Meat, in moderation, is perfectly fine nutritionally. After all our bodies have evolved to process it. We're omnivores.

But it's those vegetarians, and I've met some, that while not actually looking down their noses at me for eating meat, somehow manage to come across as smug gits because they don't. It's as if they know something I don't. Once, one said to me, as I devoured a bacon butty, 'that meat will stay in your stomach for a month you know.' I wanted to point out that my stomach acid, much like that of the Alien's in the film of the same name, would eat through me were it not for my mucosa stomach lining, so it will make short-shrift of a rasher of Danish.

    Some veggies, much like some born-again religious people have the aura of righteousness around them. 'Oh! Phil, you should let Jesus into your heart you'll feel so much better for it'. Will I, really? I find myself fighting the urge to 'slap them upside the head' with their prayer books.

    Have you ever walked into a vegetarian café? I have, by accident. It's like walking into a library, the atmosphere is identical. It comes from the customers just grazing instead of getting stuck into a slab of meat. It's a well know phenomenon that meat makes you more aggressive. Meat eaters had to hunt and kill their food, aggression was needed to feed themselves. I doubt in the history of vegetarian dining the police have even been called to a vegetarian eatery because it's all kicked off. Lettuce just doesn’t make you aggressive no matter how much you eat. Look how sweet rabbits are. Vegetarians simply harvest what’s around them and it's not possible to pick watercress aggressively.......at least not without looking stupid. (We have 2 to 3 meat free days a week. Ed)

    You have a good weekend, and perhaps make it a meat free one if you like.

 

 

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