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How difficult can that be?

From time to time Maggie gets a bit impatient with my relaxed lifestyle. I can understand that, there she is suffering class-loads of tiny children whilst I have essential tasks to complete like popping across the road for a coffee. I cook a bit, clean a bit and do the household tasks like shopping and laundry but that's about it. I can't make it account for my lack of time.

It could be the intercambios - I'm now up to three each week, sitting in cafes with Spanish speakers failing to improve my Spanish or it could be the couple of English classes I give but that doesn't add up either. Maybe it's sitting in front of this screen. I spend a fair time writing these blog entries and writing occasional articles for the TIM magazine either to print or for their blog (though that seems to have slowed to a standstill recently) but my commitments are really few and far between.

Recently I've done some shopping for a company in the UK that "recovers" products from shops here in Spain. You would think it was dead easy to buy some cream cheese or orange juice but it is remarkable how difficult it can get. For instance, at the minute it's the juice. The brand is a well known one. At first I was asked to collect just 30 cartons in two batches of 15 with a sell by date into June or July and with the same batch code. Over the week or so that I've been trying to get hold of this the requirements have come down and down. The best before date has been brought closer and the batch code requirement has been scrapped but I still can't get the stuff. I've been all over but it just isn't there. The trouble isn't in getting the dates it's just that very few stores stock the without pulp variety. I've learned something new about Spaniards - they must prefer their fresh orange to come with pulp! I've tried all the chains in Cartagena and only found one stockist. In Pinoso there were none.

Yesterday I went to Murcia which is about 50kms from Cartagena to try again. Murcia, according to 2009 stats, is the 7th largest city in Spain with a population of 436,870 people. Within the city I drove nearly 50kms from shopping centre to shopping centre, fighting town centre traffic and relying on the Tom Tom to get me from one place to another. Not nice. There were just 16 cartons of the juice in the three shops I found that stocked it. So 16 litres divided by 436,780 people gives each person just 0.0366 mililitres each. Not a thirst quencher.

I find it amazing. Huge supermarkets only have five or six cartons on the shelf and none in their storerooms. It doesn't make sense but I see no reason why they wouldn't be keen to sell me 80€ worth of juice so they must be telling the truth.

From my point of view it's really bad news. The UK firm is unlikely to be happy if I make a huge claim for store visits and mileage and I don't manage to get hold of the stuff. They are not going to ask me again and that means that Maggie will be even less happy with me!

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