Lettuce Pray

Those words I always thought the priest uttered at Mass on soft Irish Sunday mornings – I was an almost-adult before – like many song lyrics – I realised I had it all wrong. Young folk have no idea how lucky they are that they have lyric sites at the swipe of an iPhone – and that they’re not bullied into Mass, for that matter.

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But this post is neither religious or musical, though I suspect a Mel Brooks-style treat is being hastily scribbled in the wings.

I ask you to to forget about world hunger. Begone Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and those irritating refugees looking for non-essentials such as shelter and water. The new kid on the block is Britain. Yes, in true OLIVER style, the begging bowl is out. The supermarkets are bare and the Sun editor is doing back-flips. It’s the scoop of the century. There is no lettuce. In February. That’s winter, right? But there’s no use whining and begging. Spain is NOT for sharing.

So, let’s consider the great #LettuceGate scandal of 2017 as a great hunger, perhaps even a Famine. Ah yes, we knew we’d have you eventually, landowners and bigwigs. You thought you could get us with our own potatoes when the chips were down.

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There’s a monumental disaster afoot and it’s caused by a lack of Lactuca Sativa.

What if #LettuceGate has the same consequences as the Great Famine? Starvation. Disease. Lettuce is a rich source of Vitamin K and Vitamin A. It’s a source of Folate. The National Health Service will crumble.

There’ll be mass emigration. The fact that no-one will want you is a bridge you’ll just have to cross in search of Iceberg, Cos or your next bag of Looseleaf.

What’s the solution? Rt Hon Andrea Leadsom MP might like to know that it’s possible to wait until lettuce is actually in season and grow her own.

Remember one more thing, Britain. Where did all the Irish go after An Gorta Mór? Oh yes, but now, sure, isn’t that ‘just desserts’?

Percolated happiness coming right up

It’s a drip feed, isn’t it? Happiness I mean. Not just happiness, all feelings, all emotions. A sort of osmosis from outside influence.

Peer pressure

We are so easily swayed these days, by adverts, by song lyrics, by reading a book or watching a decent film. Open your Facebook account and be instantly irritated by someone you have never actually met, feel emotional and sad at someone else’s bad luck, or warm and fuzzy from a cute kitten/puppy video. We’re all total suckers for it, really.

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#GoPositive

So there I was, minding my own business, when HAPPY MELLY suggested I get happy for a week; Go Positive they said. Easy, I thought. I’ll just post ‘nice’ things, and curate some positive stories. I can do that. Simple.

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Hard work

It’s not, actually. My social media (personal and pages accounts) are full of some really bad shit, and I hadn’t truly taken note. I found myself SEARCHING for good news stories, and really, it was pretty trying. Forget the newspapers and media pages for a start. My ‘friends’ do like a good moan! Avoidance of 😦 reactions is also harder than you think.

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So, I gaily skipped and scrolled past the RIP posts, the dead dog posts, the FFS posts and the general angst. No Angry, Sad, or even Like  (your angry mood)  responses from me – nuh-uh. I’m not on your bus, sister.

Feelgood factor

Then something odd happened. I found my finger hovering back over those Bad News stories, looking for something positive to say. That’s better, I thought. The OP would ‘like’ my comment, and I’d feel even happier.

 

9 September at 11:27 ·

All done and not a word of thanks from management. Not even a goodbye. Thankfully students were grateful for my efforts. #wontbeback

 

Comments

 

Carol Byrne The students are the important ones, your raison d’etre. Good that they were grateful 🙂

Like · Reply · 1 · 9 September at 12:33

 

I started to do the same OFFLINE. What’s all this? A new me? No, probably not. That would take some sort of miracle.

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But a slow, drip-feed of happiness? Yes. like the best coffee, a sort of percolated happiness. It tastes pretty good too…want a cup?

Spanish exploring for spring

Hey – it’s warming up, isn’t it? It’s always a bit later here at 1115m in the high hills of Andalucía. But there they are.Those first clues – the floor tiles underfoot don’t make you flinch as you climb out of bed, orchids showing up and showing off in the campo, jasmine buds tentatively unfurling in the garden, and the birds getting, well, all jiggy. Speaking of our feathered friends – the Swallows are back on our terrace this week, having made their long journey back to us – they’re looking fat and well, and are always happy to chat while we hang out the washing.

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Speaking of journeys, we will set off this weekend to Valladolid, ostensibly to watch UD Almeria get totally obliterated by the local football team, it’s part of the 21st birthday treatment for The Boy, currently here on his Easter break from student life in Wet Wales.  We also booked a stay in Toledo on the way back – love it in that hill top walled city of swords and Kings, El Greco, and from what I remember – great cake! Expect plenty of photo fodder on our return.

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Himself and myself will be celebrating a wedding anniversary of many moons this June, so we have decided to mark the auspicious occasion (we don’t, normally) with a trip. He suggested Rome  – I meh-ed a bit and  shrugged. Then we both thought of magical Marrakech, considered it for about, oh, 2 seconds, and promptly booked bargain flights and a splendiferous Riad to go with them. I cannot wait. A stopover at Córdoba  (ida) and Sevilla (vuelta) will complete the trip.

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A weekend in May before that, to wish my mother a happy birthday and take her for a G&T, will complete my tinker travels for the first half of this year – I was there in January but she’s getting on and I am a bad, careless and vagrant daughter.

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So, sit down here beside me, and tell me; how is your spring shaping up?

 

 

 

The Beer Run and a Bomb Shelter

With the beer shelf of the fridge looking sadly empty we interrupted our morning to take a quick trip to Adra and our current favourite shop for essentials –  Lidl.

We timed it right as there was 50% off the second bottle of most of the ‘nice’ beer labels, so we threw Belgium, the Czech Republic, and Germany into the trolley with some of their Italian range of food and headed back.

“Fancy a look at the museum while we’re here?” asked Museum Man Stan. (I wish he felt the same about the beach)

I did, so… we did.

Entering the museum, the nice chap at reception turned on the lights and gave us a few pointers for looking around – then asked where we were from. “Ireland  – piped up Museum Man Stan – he almost always refuses to admit to his Queen and country – Er, Alpujarras, we live in the Alpujarras.”

Nice chap: “Which part?”

Stan: “Murtas”.

Nice Man: “Ah Murtaaaa  – a big smile – (it’s always the same reaction). My family were from there in the 1800’s….There’s also another foreigner there, an Englishman, a photographer, do you know him?”

Soy yo, (That would be me)” admitted the Honorary Irishman.

Apparently, they had met years ago, when Nice Chap visited the village and he purchased one of Stan’s photographs that was displayed in the bar – giving him his contact details and asking for more, explaining that Nice Chap was in fact the tecnico cultural for Adra, and he wanted to do an exhibition of the Honorary Irishman’s work. Yay.

Except the Honorary Eeejit lost the details and never followed it up.

So, fast forward to this morning.  Nice Chap turned out to be Javier Sanchez Real, author of Farua, that annual cultural book on Adra, in addition to his tourism/cultural role, and a mine of info on Adra.

We promised to come back armed with camera and notebook – because the museum is seriously good,  and I’ll cover more on it in another post, but do go – and he gave Hon Eejit all the details again, as unbelievably he is still interested. He’s also love me to write some info in English 🙂

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Photo from http://www.adraturismo.com/en/quehacer/visitas-guiadas.html

Javier then directed us down the street to the ancient town walls, and instructed us to claim a key from a bar, saying he sent us 🙂 which would enable us to have a private look inside the Civil War bomb shelter, which we duly did. It was fascinating, and was also used to shelter those who walked the route from Málaga to Almería as detailed in the book The Crime on the Road by Norman Bethune. Paul Read  – Forgotten Stories From Spain: The Ambulance Man And The Spanish Civil War is another great read on the same subject.

So that was our rather interesting morning…yours?

Holy Days of Obligation

You HAVE to go to Mass, it’s a Holy Day of Obligation.  Get there smartly, don’t slinge.

The standard answer to “Mass again? But, why….???” when I was a skinny small teenager with a big fat attitude.  So, sulking, we would dutifully slinge up that hill to St Mary’s and stand outside the back door, acting as cool as we could under the circumstances.  One of us having drawn the short straw would be sent in to hear the message from the homily, so we’d all have the same answer when we got home – sort of singing from the same hymn sheet I guess.

Today is yet another H.D.O. in Spain.  Puente del Pilar – the pueblo church bells of San Miguel are ringing as I type, but I think there will be more than just a few blue rinse jobs there today, as it’s also the day of the Spanish military celebrations.  Any excuse for the Guardia Civil to tuck their trousers into their mirror-shined boots and wear the three cornered hat.  I find it intimidating to be honest – but I guess that’s the idea.

It’s also Hispanic day for the Spanish speaking world. Día de la Hispanidad commemorates the day Columbus first set foot in the Americas  – so there’s plenty to celebrate today.

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For our village, it’s another opportunity to come home to the countryside and be fed by Mami, a reason for the Abuela to to grin toothlessly, another day to be spoiled for the Nieto.

The village Great and the Good will be invited to the local police station to have a few bevvies, denuncias and feuds forgotten for a few hours, at least as long as the Brugal flows.

Then, as full as proverbial ticks, they’ll weave their way home to sleep. Tomorrow it’s back to normality.  Quiet once again, the square chimneys will send blue spirals of smoke to fight the chilly autumn evening.  The scent of Almond wood will hang heavily in the air, and the sound of tractors and chainsaws in the distance.  Until the next fiesta – it won’t be long!

Abuela – Granny

Nieto – Grandson

Brugal – Popular Spanish Rum

Puente – Bridge – or extra day off work tagged onto the weekend for post-shenanigan sore heads 

Our Favourite Granada Hotels – their best bits!

There are all sorts of reasons for a mini break.  Any parent savouring the delicious liberation that teenagers bring when they reach the magical age of fending for themselves will know of at least one.

Where we live is a rural and lovely holiday spot – one for kicking back and relaxing, with some of the cleanest air in Europe surrounding our mountain-top village.

But, sometimes we want more… We love a quick city break – eschewing the rolling mountains and countryside of the Alpujarra and injecting ourselves with a little much-needed carbon monoxide.

Granada makes the grade

Granada is not only on the doorstep – it has everything we ask for.  Architecture, culture, jazz clubs and gin joints.

Choosing a hotel is usually the second thing we do, after checking to see what’s on.  Sometimes we go for one we have previously strolled past and liked the look of.  A Patio Andaluz is usually a deal-breaker.

I’m often asked to recommend places to stay – which is difficult, ‘one man’s meat’ etc.  Here are some we have stayed in this year – and their best bits!  So, here’s what they say, and what we say:

Gar Anat

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The Blurb:

This charming boutique hotel in a converted 17th-century pilgrim’s hospital with running balconies surrounding an interior courtyard is a 6-minute walk from Granada Cathedral and 3 km from Alhambra’s medieval complex of palaces.

Quaint rooms with beamed-ceilings feature décor themed around novels and poetry. They all have free Wi-Fi and TVs, plus room service. Some have balconies, Jacuzzi tubs and antique furnishings.

Continental breakfast, served in a stone-walled cellar, has a surcharge. Afternoon Teas are complimentary There’s a stylish lounge with a library of books in English and Spanish, as well as a computer for guest use.

Address: Placeta de los Peregrinos, 1, 18009 Granada
Our view:  The friendliest place we have ever stayed, staff who were chatty and knowledgeable, without that creepy servile attitude you sometimes encounter. Great room with double aspect windows, large bathroom and excellent toiletries. Centrally located in the Historical area.  Indian food stockist next door was a bonus!

Vincci

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The Blurb:

The Vincci Granada Hotel is located in the centre of Granada, Spain. This is a modern establishment equipped with all the comforts of a four-star hotel and the latest technology which makes this hotel, one of the best hotels of Granada.

It is ideally located so that both tourist and business travellers can enjoy this historical city.

The Vincci Granada offers the visitor a modern hotel, cosy and exquisitely decorated, which upholds the idiosyncrasies of the city. Of course, its hallmark is the personalised treatment and care for details which make any stay here unforgettable.

Avda Constitucion, 18 Granada , Granada , 18012, España | 902 515 555 | +34 93 269 11 26

Our view:  It’s not in the centre, it’s a 10 minute ride away.  But there’s a great secondhand clothes shop next door which sells designer labels and high street brands for a fraction of their cost, so worth a rummage.  The Vincci is actually a little old-fashioned, but the black and white décor and slightly Jeeves-ish staff shouldn’t put you off.  It’s cheap, and more than cheerful, with big rooms and beds, and a choice of pillows.  Bear in mind though, that the rooms start on the 11th floor – so no ground floor rooms available. Not for you if you dislike heights – great if you love Granada views.

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View from our room on the the 14th floor of the Vincci

Abades Recogidas

The Blurb:

Decorated with art showcasing Granada’s history, this modern hotel is an 8-minute walk from the Granada Cathedral and 1.9 km from the Alhambra.

The trendy, earth-toned rooms and suites feature free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs and minibars. Suites add separate sitting areas.

Amenities include a bar/lounge and a rooftop terrace. The hotel offers a breakfast buffet at an additional charge.

Address: Calle Recogidas, 7, 18005 Granada

Our View: Like the Vincci, we return to this one regularly.  It’s spotless, modern, art-themed, with huge showers on the second floor – small shower over bath affair on the 4th.  Slap bang on Calle Recogidas, opposite Zara so ideally placed for the sales, for nightlife, for discovering Granada.

Hesperia

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The Blurb:

The Hesperia Granada hotel is an elegant old building with an unbeatable location, right in the historic heart of Granada. It’s a short walk to the city’s most popular tourist spots, and it’s also very close to the city hall and the business district. Plus, you can walk to the Alhambra Palace in around 20 minutes. 

  • Central location in an elegant historic building
  • Close to the city hall, the cathedral, and Granada’s best tapas bars
  • 20-minute walk to the Alhambra Palace

The hotel is built inside an historic tenement block, so all our 68 guest rooms are unique. They’re spacious, with large bathrooms and sleek hardwood floors. Each one is decorated in a classic Andalusian style, and some of the Junior Suites and Superior rooms overlook the small square at the front of the hotel.

  • Rooms decorated in classic Andalusian style
  • Fully equipped bathrooms
  • Some superior rooms and the junior suite look out across an attractive square

The hotel serves a sumptuous buffet breakfast every morning. We also have 3 beautiful Andalusian-style courtyards, as well as private parking and free Wi-Fi .

Reservations: +34 91 6008146
Tel.: +34 958 018400
Our View:   Loved it.  Simple as.  Friendly, great value, spacious room that felt like home – or that we would like home to feel like!  Really friendly at the desk, a tranquil and very cool place to stay.  Will go back.  Wonderful wine bar opposite, gin joint to the right a few doors down, where Federico will pour until you stay stop. *There’s Cava and Oysters too 🙂
My top tips:  Always smile and ask for an upgrade at check in, if it’s quiet they’ll more than likely give you one.  Booking.com is brilliant for late great deals, the more you use it, the better the deal.   If you want a late check out at your chosen hotel, then ask – again if they’re not that busy they usually don’t mind. What are your favourite Granada hotels?