A series of anecdotes with or without any connection to the running of a restaurant.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

I've had a date...

Tonight, I had a date with a handsome Spanish guy from Barcelona!

Ooooooooooooooh! No, don't worry, I am not changing persuasion!

Last Saturday, I had lunch at a Tapas Bar in Newcastle.
After the meal, I asked the Spanish assistant-manager if anyone ever asked to be helped with their Spanish.
He said that he couldn't recall such a request.
So I enquired if there were any native speakers who could help me with my Spanish. He said that there were quite a few waiters who were struggling with their English and if I wanted he would introduce me to some of them in a bid to set up some sort of language exchange.

So tonight I got there at seven. Manuel, the assistant-manager, looked around but most of the waiters were too busy to listen to my baby Spanish!
Then, David walked in. Manuel dragged him across the bar and introduced me explaining that I wanted to practice my Spanish.

Awkward moment...for 2 seconds!

David turned out to be a very willing helper as long as I promised to help him with his English.

He's from a small village just outside Barcelona and has been in Newcastle for eight months.
I said that the best way to learn a language is to get a native girlfriend. He said that Newcastle lasses drank too much and started showing their pechugas!
Newcastle still seems to be living up to its reputation as the party capital of Britain!

We had a good chat. Half in English, half in Spanish! And the third half using sign language! We waffled on about beans, chorizo and tripe...

We exchanged phone numbers and promised to meet at least once a week!

I say it was quite a productive evening and I can't wait for the next session!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

I am feeling Olympic!

This morning, I recovered my old Blog template from my favourites, copied all the details and painstakingly pasted them back and forth onto the new one!
Fifteen minutes!
Nurse, scalpel, forceps, please wipe my brow...
I am sure that those computer-whizz-kids among you lot will be thinking: "He thinks he's invented the wheel!"
But I am feeling Olympic...

Does anyone remember the film about the Jamaican bobsleigh team in the Calgary Winter Olympics, Cool Runnings?

Well, every time I achieve something beyond my capabilities, I say: "Today, I'm feeling Olympic!"

My Great Useless Achievements among others could be:
1-Turning the alarm off before it rings: Un point
2-Finding a parking space right in front of a shop: Deux points
3-Sitting down just as the film starts (therefore missing the ads.): Deux points!


What little achievement makes your day?


Saturday, March 25, 2006

Panic Stations....

I lost Screamers for about 8 whole hours today!

It was one of them hilarious things that happen every now and then to remind us that we are only human.

As I said in the previous post, Annie suggested that I should start a food blog.

I set one up but the title was a bit rude "Suck my Cockles". So I decided to delete it.

Guess what!

I deleted my Screamers instead! I could scream!

I got in touch with Blogger and they retrieved and undeleted it!

Muchas Gracias to Okok, the blogger who gave me hope!


I've renamed the food blog Go and Stuff your Peppers! Not as rude!
Check it out and send me your favourite recipes!

Thursday, March 23, 2006


Posted by Picasa

Tonight I went for a Thai meal at a restaurant owned by a charming Romanian lady and her 32 year-old son. His wife left him a few months ago to return to Romania. Hard work had broken Carmelle's back.
Nowadays, both mother and son work seven days a week.

The crispy squid was crusty. The tempura king prawns had been tampered with and ended up tasting like doughnuts.

How could I complain? I was their only customer for the evening. I could’ve destroyed their confidence! “Tonight, 100% of our customers complained!”

So, I just gouged the prawns out of the thick batter and pretended I was on a diet!

Anna asked why I wasn’t at work. I explained, in between sighs and sips of Thai beer, that I was no longer needed nor wanted!

It’s only half the truth, really! I had already done my rounds and checked on our restaurants earlier.

I honestly thought that I would be at Casa helping set it up for at least another 3 months. But the Spanish holiday spelt my redundancy!

I need to start scheming! I need something to do! Another project, another interest…

But what?
I hope that my blogfriends have a few suggestions!

No more restaurants or mosaics please!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


My middle name is Patience!
I know every single one of our employees by name.
I try to remember their birthdays and I usually spend half an hour trying to create a personalised card for those who have been with us a long time.

If they are off on the sick, I try to remember to ring them to find out how they are.

If they begin wondering whether catering is really for them, I sit with them and go through the whole thing of analysing their doubts. I do my Oprah... and try to help them find the way.

Now all this is when I've had my Weetabix for breakfast...

If not, then I point to the above sign! It works wonders!

Just joking! I only like Fruit and Fibre! Posted by Picasa

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Here comes the sun...

I forgot my drawing tablet in Spain.
My artwork came to a standstill until I remembered that with Picasa I can play about with photos then open them with Painter and add bits and bobs. Like a warm sun to a cool Barcelona day!

Friday, March 17, 2006

Indian Spice...

Last night, I had a visit from our neighbourly Indian restaurant owner. His name is Lucky and his restaurant is called Spice...
Lucky's Spice... Spice's Lucky? Should be in the Aftershave business...

Lucky is from Bengladesh really. Most Indian restaurants in Britain are owned by Bengladeshis! What the hell, as Viking once said if you can cook it, you can call it yours!

Lucky is opening another restaurant in a town a few miles away. He came to pick a few tips! Yeah!
He saw the mosaic under the bar and fell in love with it!
"You must make me one! I'll pay you!"
Indian mosaics? I've always associated mosaics with the Med.
"Lucky, man! This one took me 25 hours and to be honest, with this trapped nerve of mine, you'll have to add at least another 25! You see, I do mosaics for fun and if I was put under pressure, I am sure I'll end up botching them!"

He looked down like a chastised puppy and his eye caught our candle holders.
"Where did you get these?"
"I designed them (honest) and a friend of mine who's into wrought iron made them for me!"

"Can you get me 25? Please..."

Well, this morning, I got in touch with our welder friend. They'll be ready next week!

For a second I thought about making a little profit but then, as Lucky has invited me to his opening night, I'll just settle for a bloody good Indian meal! Posted by Picasa

Thursday, March 16, 2006

What the Spanish Cat was looking at...

What do you think Feline Juliet is saying to Feline Romeo? Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Un gato español...

I don't think that Spanish village councils ever planned for motorised access.
I once drove down streets such as this one where most corners had been rounded off by passing cars.

Luckily we came to Mojacar by Mojabus. A little while after this photo was taken a baker climbed this hilly lane on a spluttering Moped loaded with French (!) sticks.
He had an old fashioned helmet and goggles. And he wore white overalls. He rode his Moped as straight as a noble knight on his steer!

I was told that Mojacar was abandoned during the Spanish Civil War but then brought back to life in the 60's by British hippy artists.

It is truly a beautiful place with breathtaking views of the Mediterranean and surrounding plains.

We were walking about looking for somewhere to eat and this guy sticks his head out of a tiny restaurant and says: "This is the best restaurant in the village!" IN ENGLISH!
We had to give him a chance.

Later, after an average meal, he turned out to be an ex City accountant who'd had enough of the rat race! Great life, we all thought but he still looked stressed out his wits especially when a family of eight stepped into his eatery begging to taste his Anglo-Spanish delights.

What do you think this Spanish cat is looking at? Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, March 14, 2006


This is the cactus collection in Huerto del Cura right in the centre of Elche.
It is a beautiful place to visit and if you have a trapped nerve you can roll among the cacti to get an instant acupuncture session.
I remember once standing on a sea urchin! Ouch!
My grandma had the perfect recipe!
One LARGE onion
1 tbsp olive oil

Peel and halve the onion from the root down. Separate the leaves. Keep two large ones. Use the rest for something else.
Place the onion on a chargrill. Rub olive oil on the area affected by the urchin spines. Place the hot onion on the same area. Wrap with a clean towel.
The offending needles will slide out as if by magic within half an hour!
Kids, don't try this at home!

But seriously, click on the Elche link and check out the biggest palm forest in Europe! Posted by Picasa

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Back to the cold...


Sagrada Famiglia (Nearly finished)

Mojacar (Almeria)

Christopher Columbus (Barcelona)

Gaudi's heritage (Barcelona)

Castillo de Santa Barbara (Alicante)

I've been back home since Monday but the nerve I trapped back in November has given me so much pain that I've not been able to find the energy to blog! It's like constant toothache in my shoulder! The last week in Spain, I thought about chopping my arm off!

I am writing this under duress, with a hot water bottle over my shoulder. Come on, everyone go: "Ahhhhhh!"

We arrived on the Costa Blanca on Monday 2oth. It was nice to see our old neighbours. On Wednesday we went down to Almeria to visit some friends for the day. Came back the long way past Mazarron and Cartagena! The scenery is amazing. Thursday, a game of golf for the lads and a shopping spree for the lasses!
Friday, a 7-hour train journey to Barcelona! Really great! Lots of scenic views, DVDs, Spanish lessons on my laptop, sudoku puzzles....
Barcelona was amazing! We took the sights by tourist bus and didn't miss anything! I love all the wide avenues and beautiful buildings. The Sagrada Famiglia was still being finished. The guide said it required another 20 years! Very slow workmanship if you ask me!
Guell Park was really awe inspiring! Gaudi must have been centuries ahead of his time!
Las Ramblas with its great tapas bars and street artists, Camp Nou where Chelsea got knocked out of Europe, the palaces, the plazas, the Catalan language, etc... What a great time we had!

Monday, we visited Elche and Alicante. Climbed to Castillo de Santa Barbara and enjoyed beautiful 360 degree panoramic views of Alicante.

Wednesday we went to Murcia and the temperature soared to 26C while back home, snow storms hit most of England!

A few local trips peppered the rest of the second week. No golf due to the ennerving trapped nerve.
Back home on Monday and the temperature plummeted to 2C!
I avoided work and read two books in bed while stuffing myself with anti-inflammatories... Thursday I had an X-ray at the hospital. Saturday, half an hour physio session with a guy who usually treats rugby players. He says a couple of sessions ought to fix me! Thank heavens! I was starting to walk like a cripple!

Casa del Mar runs itself and is very busy.
I have been there a couple of times this week, once for lunch and Kevin did me proud!

I have enjoyed reading all your comments. Thank you for visiting while I was away. Posted by Picasa

Friday, March 03, 2006

Barcelona from Gaudi's Guell Park

A view of Barcelona from Guell Park. Thanks for all the comments. I will answer when I get back home. Posted by Picasa

Who links to me?