Archive for November, 2013

‘Collecting Stamps’ or ‘Losing your Rag’?

I praise myself as being placid but there’s always something that comes along and, without thinking, you give it both barrels.  For me, it was an insurance company …… .


I now live in Spain and, after two frustrating hours of trying to get a landline number to call you on, I managed to speak with a very nice young lady called (blank), who informed me that, as your letters to us were returned to you, she couldn’t tell me anything about our insurance policy, until I had reconfirmed our very being.  You will see attached here, one of the letters you sent to us in Spain, which we did receive and which tells us that you do know our address.  This letter of 2008 talks about ‘our proposal to transfer certain policies to (such and such (other) insurance company)’ and I therefore suggest that, upon this transfer, it is you, as a company, that made a mistake with our address.  Maybe you referred back to our English address and, no, we haven’t lived there now for eight years.

I attach here the papers (name of contact via the phone call) requested, including my driving licence and my husband’s, my passport and my husband’s, a utility bill from our house in Spain, a copy of you taking our money from our bank account and, of course, the copy of the letter that I did receive in 2008. (name of contact via the phone call) has assured me that, when you have removed our Spanish address and once again added the very same, I will be able to talk to you about our policy and the possibility of extending it.  However, I am wondering that if, for five years, you have been taking our money and you didn’t truly know that we still existed, maybe my best route of action is to ask for a refund of around three thousand pounds.   I would appreciate your help on this matter.  That is, once you are satisfied that my husband and I do still exist, in the same place you already knew us to be. 

It’s amazing how angry a placid person can get, when a problem isn’t of their own making. 

My Name. 

28 November 13. 

(0034) xxx xx xx xx (a fixed line number that relates to the house we have been living in for eight years) 

(0034) xx xx xx xxx (Spanish mobile number). 

07895 xxx xxx (English mobile number).

Strangely enough, I feel better for letting it all out.  Let’s see what happens … .




Taking Care of Personal Machines

Personal Machine

The last century has seen great changes in ‘life as we know it’.  Having gone from living hand to mouth and through the industrial revolution, the people of the Western World are now far away from that hierarchy of needs and well into choice and comfort.  In our busy, and very technical, lives, we now need to think seriously about how we are treating our own personal machine (now to be referred to as PM) and making sure that it is indeed fit for purpose.  Here is a bottled breakdown of points for consideration:- 

Computer – situated in the head (the uppermost part of the PM).  This important part of the PM needs to be oiled regularly.  While some may be using brain training equipment, advanced education courses or maybe learning how to become a responsible adult, one must not forget that this computer, known as the brain, must also receive good nourishment (a good intake) and plenty of down time. Housed in the very same head, are the sensory systems of vision and sound, both helping the owner of each PM to navigate through the world as it currently operates. 

The Mechanical System – the rest of the PM.  Charged by the brain which is situated in the head, the rest of the PM carries out the duties needed to function well and achieve a good ‘best before’ date.  Its components include four limbs, extended and flexible sections which help the PM achieve its needs.  Lack of use of these limbs can cause failure to successfully perform tasks and eventually lead to a breakdown of the individual PM. 

The Cost of Running a Personal Machine.  Prices can vary, according to quality of intake and the responsibilities expected of the individual PM.  Like putting diesel into a petrol engine, getting it wrong can lead to problems.  The PM may start to suffer from sluggishness, corrosion, a full breakdown, or maybe even need to be written off’.  Whilst it is a good idea to insure your own PM, such cover will not lead to replacement, should writing off be the only option. 

Risk Assessments.  Some advanced PMs (e.g. those that made use of advanced education courses and can be classed as trouble-shooters) can be approached, as to what the individual PM needs to take into account when trying to reach maximum performance and that hopeful ‘best before’ date. 


In today’s world, there are a lot of machines out there.  Some of these lesser models (i.e. not the PM) can be enjoyed, given away and, indeed, thrown away.  With these types of machine (also referred to as computers, gadgets and gizmos), which may become personal to you, you can look after them or fail to care as, let’s face it, you can always get another.  Unfortunately, at the moment, while the PM can make use of minor replacements, it cannot be replaced by a true ‘like for like’. 

There are plenty of books for idiots (this is not a criticism but the name of a book style!), middle of the road books and advanced teachings, all designed to help the reader become aware of how to care for PMs, information being available at  local trouble-shooters’ offices, libraries and also via that ever popular desktop computer, laptop and smaller versions of this same disposable machine.  In general, care will take the form of suitable intake, running your PM through rigorous exercises (many of these can be done without being connected to a power source), understanding risk and sometimes seeking advice from those ‘in the know’. 

It’s never too late to start, is it?

Speaking of Brits Abroad …. .

Over my eight years here in the north-west corner of Spain (what I like to refer to as the outback), I have taught English to well over sixty Spanish students of my native language. Believe me when I say that, not only did their levels of English improve but I learnt soooo much from them, as well.

One topic I always liked to touch upon was the Spaniard’s impression of English tourists in the sunny parts of Spain. The answer I always got was that there are easily identifiable from the ‘lobster’ colour but also, alas, that they are always rowdy and drunk.

I hope that I educated many of those students about why they might have a very false impression of Brits.

When English people come to Spain, they are buying the sun. Not the hotel. The sun. As they get off the plane, their first question is ‘how hot is it?’ If it’s hot, they know that they are going to have a good holiday. If it isn’t hot, they already believe that they have wasted a lot of money.

Though it does happen, hot weather is a rare event in England. As such, we Brits don’t necessarily know how to handle the sun. This year, however, England experienced heat of over 30 degrees centigrade. Roads were melting and more people were heading for accident and emergency departments, with symptoms they probably didn’t realise related to sunstroke.

On returning from a holiday in Spain, prove of a good time is that suntan. If you haven’t got a suntan, colleagues and friends will doubt that a good time was had.

If the sun is shining, Brits relax. Maybe they never get the chance to relax in England, as you can guarantee that if the sun was shining in England, you were too busy committed to some responsibility to grab the moment. When relaxing, it’s nice to have a drink. And another. I can hear them all now, sitting outside at maybe 11.30 p.m. or even after midnight.

“Eeh, isn’t this fantastic? It’s half past eleven at night and it’s still warm. You don’t get this in England, do you?”

And so, as you’re relaxing and you’re in good company, you have another drink.

I’ve been there, done it and worn the tee-shirt …. . And, with the instant heat, I managed to be unable to enjoy supper that first night, as I was too hung over from those ‘no need to measure’ tots of whiskey.

That’s having a good time. You don’t have to get up for work in the morning. You don’t have to drive anywhere. The kids are amused, without you having to put extra effort into it.

Then it’s back o England and hard work, all in the name of making ends meet and, if you’re really lucky, being able to save enough money to have a holiday again next year.

I rest my case.

Hmm …. . I’ve lived here almost eight years now and have, at last, got out of the habit of carrying an umbrella every time I go out …. .

A TV Camera Crew in our Home!

It happened yesterday and I’m still trying to work out how it happened.

Well, I know how it happened …. .  they asked me if they could come to our house and I said they could. 

What I mean is who gave them our telephone numbers?  I’ve discovered that, in Spain, civil servants don’t honour confidentiality and I’ve got a feeling that this is because they know their jobs are safe, no matter what. 

Five years ago, a new magazine crew asked if they could come to our house.  They got our telephone number from the local council office …. . 

As for the television crew of six people, the presenter said that, when she gets back to the office, she will let me know. 

And she will, as she is a super character, very open and absolutely perfect for her job. 

So …. The television crew .,… . 

They are making a new show about foreigners who have set up home in this north-west corner of Spain.  I supplied them with CVs for Hubby and I over the phone, then topped this with extra things I had thought about, when they arrived.  As I speak Spanish well, I was very much involved with the cameras that day and I took to it like a duck to water.  Well, I have been an extra on three occasions.  I have even been in a film that the current James Bond (Daniel Craig) was in but, unfortunately, he wasn’t there on the day I was.  BUT I have still been in a film that James Bond was in …. er …. about ten years before he became 007 but, hey, whose counting?

Still ….. .

Some of the TV Camera Crew:-

The Crew

Thank-you for a really good time!


There are Limits!

I like to write, both for myself and for others.  I also like to edit and proofread, both for native and non-native writers of English.  The pleasure of perfecting other people’s work is immense and I don’t think I can describe it correctly in words. 

But let me try …. . 

Correcting the spelling, re-arranging sentences to make them appear in a more logical order and, for non-native writers of English, changing those words to make them ‘more English’, all give me a great feeling of satisfaction.  I might change one word for another, because the writer’s word isn’t the one that native English people would use, or I might remove some words and replace them with an idiomatic phrase, because that is how English people would communicate that particular piece of information.

Then, I’ll read it all again … and again …. until I am absolutely satisfied with myself and know that I cannot do anything more to improve that piece of work. 

Hmm … definitely a Cadbury’s dairy milk moment ….. . 

The strange thing is that, after putting so much effort into this pleasure of editing and proofreading, I always seem to forget to check my own e-mails and, just as I am lifting my finger of the ‘send’ button, I see it! 

For give me.  When it comes to writing, I am a perfectionist ….. but there are limits.