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Where am I?

When I wrote the last post on this blog - Looking for a flat - I should really have written it on the Life in Culebrón blog because that's where I am at the moment.

In fact, apart from working in Cartagena it looks as though my links with the place are about to be cut. I am in the process of signing up for a flat in La Unión and the logic of naming the blogs must mean that the active ones are the places where I have a kettle. La Unión and El Culebrón.

There is a tab at the top of the page to navigate there or this is the link
Recent posts

Looking for a flat

Finding a house to rent in Spain is usually a pretty straightforward process. When I say house I really mean flat because, although it's not impossible to find houses in the middle of a town or city, by far the most usual style of dwelling for urban Spaniards is the flat.
I need to qualify this a bit further. It's easy to find a place if you are willing to pay an estate agent. The other options involve walking around random streets looking for to rent signs with your mobile phone to hand. We've only ever done it a couple of times and it has not produced good results.
The internet has made it a slightly less fraught process to find an individual renter and the place that Maggie rented in Ciudad Rodrigo came that way. Even then it takes ages to sift through the various websites usually to find that nobody answers your email or phone call except for the estate agents.
The estate agent method is the most straightforward but also the most costly. The standard charging process…

Casting off

School term is over in Spain. It's summer. Nearly everyone from Cartagena is at the beach. The town is quiet and we are done, at least till the new academic year when I'll be back to do a bit more English teaching.

We've cleared everything from the flat. We've carted our belongings up the road to Culebrón. We've handed over the keys of the flat. So goodbye to town life for a while and goodbye to Cartagena till I get back there in hot and sticky September.

In the meanwhile you can follow our adventures (sic) at Life in Culebrón

Looking foreign

I was in the vet a few weeks ago. There were a couple of Spanish women in front of me talking about their English neighbours. They seemed to think that the couple were nice enough but they soon got on to complaining about how they didn't try to speak Spanish. The veterinary nurse agreed that none of them/us tried to speak Spanish.

Everyone agrees that I don't look Spanish. It's not the hair, or the height or the clothes or the skin colour. I don't wear Union Flag underpants and, if I wear sandals, I go sockless. But everyone agrees I look like a Briton.

There are often boatloads of tourists in Cartagena. Literally boatloads. They come in big boats early in the mornings and they are usually gone by mid afternoon. Today it's the Royal Caribbean Independence of the Seas with a potential roster of 4,370 passengers. On Friday there will be the Windsurf and the Thomson Dream. The cruise ships usually moor in the port, basically in the heart of the town. Passengers step …

You must be pulling my leg

So, I'm in the waiting room in the health centre at eight in the morning. The process for taking blood is quick, a production line. There are maybe thirty of us in the room. I'm sitting there with my left leg crossed over my right. I shuffle, right over left. I'm reading.

As the electronic scoreboard closes in on my number I lose interest in the book and my gaze wanders around the room. I am the only person with my legs crossed. Everyone else, young and old, male and female has their legs akimbo - both feet firmly planted on the floor.

I mentioned this to Carlos. I asked other Spaniards. Amazingly they confirmed, with plenty of exceptions and extra detail, that crossing ones legs is not very Spanish.

I still don't really think it's true. Interesting if it were though.

Sacking the skips

Hard times Mr Gradgrind.

On the surface Spain looks fine. I hear all the time about unemployment, I know lots and lots of people without jobs. There are loads of empty shops, I see the evictions on the telly but I also see the crowds of people out for the fiestas, I go in bars bursting at the seams with people eating their way through mounds of tapas and, even if the sales figures are dire, the cars on the road look new enough.

It's difficult to tell. One thing though. A few months ago I started to see a couple of blokes collecting the cardboard boxes that the shops leave outside for the dustbin lorries every night. Armed with a Stanley knife they cut the boxes down and piled them neatly onto a trailer that they had built to tow behind a bike. They were able to get a prodigious amount of card on the little trailer and I supposed that they would go to weigh it in somewhere. I rather admired their grim determination to keep going.

A couple of weeks ago there was an old Transit type…

Proving you're nice

Once upon a time in a land far, far away nasty men applied for jobs working with little girls and boys. Their intentions were not good. So Police checks became common and employers, such as schools, started asking the police to provide them with reports on the criminal past of people about to be employed. In time the system became more widespread and the checks came to be known as CRB (Criminal Records Bureau) checks. Now, apparently, the name has changed and they are DBS or Disclosure and Barring Service checks.

Now Maggie has worked in three schools whilst we've been here in Spain together. I may be wrong but I don't think that any of them has ever asked to see any form of Police check. I remember she did fill in a form (that we got from a tobacconist) when she first started with the bilingual project but it was the British element of the project that was worried about the check. The local headteacher in Ciudad Rodrigo quietly slipped the form in a drawer and mumbled someth…