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Showing posts from June, 2012

Could you write that down for me?

There always seems to be something going on in Cartagena. Generally it's not Earth shattering stuff but nice little event after nice little event. Gay Pride last week, classic sailing boats this and we also have the Gastronomy Fair - The Taste of Cartagena.

The Gastronomy Fair is simple enough. Nineteen local restaurants with a stall selling three little tapas each. Nearly sixty tapas to choose from. The idea is that the tapas are a bit special - roast pork cheek with peach, crunchy leek and a reduction of soya (I'm not absolutely sure that English uses reduction for a sauce but it sounded right enough) or a pear cake with paté and spicy pepper sauce.

The food was great but the thing that impressed me most was the information sheet that came with our food vouchers. It listed all the tapas so it was dead easy to decide what you wanted and ask for it at the stall.

How unusual, a menu. What a fab idea to use written information - who knows,it may even catch on.

All a bit nail biting

We hunkered down in front of the telly in a bar last night with copious quantities of alcoholic beverage on hand and an oversupply of small rolls crammed with pig products. We were right at the very front of the room only a couple of metres from the huge telly. The telly hung on a mirrored wall so we could see what was going on in the bar behind us.

As the game progressed and the home team seemed unable to gain its normal rhythm the punters in the bar got quieter and quieter and faces glummer and glummer. Fortunately the Portuguese, Britains's oldest allies, seemed to be afflicted with the same problem as England and had sufficient difficulty in kicking a football into the back of a net from 12 miserable yards away. And maybe that man Casillas had a small part to play too.

The celebrations, at least in the middle of town, were surprisingly low key.

Sunday then.

Guilty M'lud?

I'm reading a Spanish book called "Contra la sinceridad" - against sincerity. It's basic premise, so far as I can tell, is that sincerity or honesty is often a bad thing. "I know everyone else says you're a fool but you seem OK to me," or "Crikey, you're a lot fatter than the last time I saw you." Possibly your version of the truth but maybe better not said.

Anyway one of his little stories goes like this: In dealing with children the English - who are maybe the most hypocritical and least sincere social beings on Earth - practice this distancing with a cool efficiency. Whilst the Spanish shout across the table "Manolito, don't eat the chicken with your fingers!" the English say, calmly, arching their eyebrows across the starched white linen, - "Manolitoooo!" and the English Manolito guiltily returns to his meal as if he had been given a severe beating. Meanwhile the Spanish child continues to run around, get tangl…


We live right in the centre of Cartagena, I mean right in the middle.

First to pass by our street this evening were the Gay Pride crew to celebrate the end of a week's celebrations for Gay Pride Day. Men in high heels, rainbow flags everywhere and, of course the anthems by Gloria Gaynor and the Village People.

Then it was La Roja, the Spanish Selection, the Spanish National Football team taking on the French in the European Cup. The bar at the end of the street has a huge telly outside. Oohs and aahs from the crowd and when the ball ended up in the back of the net the National Anthem. Then the Anthem again. And when it was all over the fireworks started because tonight is San Juan. The celebrations for the longest day/shortest night.

I suspect it will be a loud night.

The Sword of Damocles

One of my students was shocked at the price of the plane tickets to the UK at the beginning of this month. He didn't know about the English school system of half terms. With more potential customers for the planes the ticket prices had risen substantially. Here there are no half terms.

School is just about to finish for the summer break. Maggie's children finish tomorrow leaving the teachers alone for the last week to close down the school year. All being well Maggie will be back at school on September 1st and the children will return a week later. So the school summer break is all of July and all of August. The school day is also a bit shorter for the youngsters in June and in September.

At Christmas the term ends, for teachers and children alike, around  December 23rd and they go back around January 8th, a couple of days after the Three Kings have delivered their presents. The Easter break is a bit shorter; all of the Easter week and maybe a day or two at either end.

There …

Mr Witt en el Cantón

Mr Witt is a local bar. It's a nice bar. I recommend it even though the service at table can be a bit slow. They also put too much ice in the cubatas - the mixed drinks -  like rum and coke or gin and tonic. Strange name for a bar though.

The penny dropped one day when I noticed a book on a shelf behind the counter, Mr Witt en el Cantón, written in 1936 by Ramón J Sender. The bar was named for the book and the book tells the story of an English engineer who was living in Cartagena at the time of a short lived Cantón proclaimed in the town in 1873.

The Cantons were a sort of city republic. Several sprang up in Spain as a response to the policies of the newly constituted central government of the First Spanish Republic. Most of the Cantons were very short lived but the one in Cartagena lasted longest. Cartagena has always been a military town because of its splendid harbour and good defensive position. The military sided with the uprising so the Canton had plenty of weapons and lots…

Nothing much else to say

I'd heard, in the way one does, that there was something going on in Cartagena for Armed Forces Day. The Ministry of Defence fought a strong rearguard action though. They were not keen to divulge specific information. Eventually, deep inside their website, I found what I needed.

It told me that we could visit The mine-hunter Sella, the mine counter measures ship Diana, the search and rescue boat Neptune, the submarine Galerna and the Antarctic Research vessel Las Palmas. Opening times were from 10 till 1 and from 5 till 8 on both Saturday and Sunday.

We turned up at around 10.30 and there was the submarine and the other boats but we were told that nothing opened till 4. When we got home I checked. Both local papers had the same visiting times as me but the Murcia Tourist Office knew better. Military precision.

We went back after 4. The boats were there as promised but no submarine. I heard a woman ask a sailor where it was. Apparently it had a "little hole" and diesel w…