Sunday, 2 April 2017

Man-eating fish in Malaga and dog-eating snake in Loja. Call the Irish Brigade!

Man-eating fish in Málaga and dog-eating snake in Loja.
Call the Irish Brigade!

Just about two weeks to go now  before Los Sánchez board the Good Ship Pont Aven in Portsmouth and, fair winds permitting, sail south to Santander. 

                                                   The Good Ship Pont Aven

Mrs. Sánchez and I have splashed out on a luxury en suite cabin this time with hot and cold running water, 4 bunk beds, a plug point for our camping kettle and a big window with one-way glass. Tommy and his new best pal, Monty, are booked into a couple of stainless steel boxes on Deck 10, by the funnel, called 'kennels'. It's a bit noisy up there, what with all the engine noise and all  the dogs barking, but Tommy sees it as an adventure and is a bit deaf now anyway. Little Monty, who I mentioned in my last dispatch, has it all to look forward to.

                                                Monty (aka Pretty Boy George)

But not as much as he's looking forward to 2 days in the back of the car. He's four months old now and has his own passport which may well be taken off him in a couple of years when we go to war with Spain over Gibraltar, a big rock whose two main industries are offshore banking and online gambling and  which the Spanish call 'El Peñon' (The Big Rock) or Nuestro (Ours). 

Two weeks ago a woman from Loja,near Granada (and only 109 km from Álora) admitted feeding puppies to her pet python. (Google 'Spanish woman feeds puppies to python' if you don't believe me. Be prepared for an unpleasant photo)) Even in Spain this is not acceptable and she is being investigated by the Guardia Civil. You'll never guess what the python was called!

I went past Loja a couple of weeks ago on the way to Granada during a week of  'fact finding' and 'work'.
 Mrs. Sánchez, who offered to look after Monty, insisted that my good friend Colin and I spend a few days in the sun to 'sort out' the olive prunings, which involved having three big hogueras (bonfires) and to tidy up the garden. The garden needed very little work as our kind neighbours Julie, Alan and Isabel have been keeping it tidy and watering the plants so we did a bit of fact finding instead, to pass the time. This is what we found out.

Fact 1. Granada has a great restaurant/bar called La Sitarilla which does a three course Menú del Día for 10€. and offers Manitas de Cerdo (pigs trotters) as a main course.

Mmm. Sticky and scrumptious.

Fact 2. There is a great bar inside the main Malaga Ataranzas Market , El Yerno (The son-in-law), which is open all afternoon and serves fresh fish and seafood tapas.

   El Yerno (A man eating fish is just out of the picture on the left).

Fact 3. There are two new bars in Álora; Casa Romero in la Plaza de la Fuente de Arriba (The top square) and La Taverna del Círculo in Calle Cervantes.
La Casa Romero is where Bar Las Dos Fuentes used to be and has tables on the square (which is really a triangle). It's bright and modern with an interesting old 'bodega' (wine cellar) downstairs. The friendly and portly waiter, Isodoro, serves very generous copas de vino and it opens in the evenings. Try their Huevos Rotos. (Eggs, chips, cheese and Serrano ham).
La Taverna El Círculo gets very full of an afternoon with ladies of a certain age. You can buy Fuller's 'London Pride' here. 

NB.  No shortage of bars on Calle Cervantes. Las Kñas (which no Brit can pronounce) still does well but the two grumpy ladies that run it have rested on their laurels for too long and the food isn't as good as it used to be. (in my opinion). Try El Pintor too.

Fact.4,  Fashions have not changed much since last November. You can still see handsomely rotund Brits sporting string vests, boxer shorts and flip flops with designer stubble (on face and chest and legs)  as they sit in the sun exchanging stories about how this or that bar cheats the Brits, how there are too many immigrants in the UK and where you can get a good Sunday Roast.

Alternative Fact 1.  You can buy pies in the Farmácia.

 I must say that I was pleasantly surprised to see this in a shop window in Calle Vera Cruz....until I realised it was the Farmácia (chemist): a 'false friend' if ever I saw one. Pies means 'feet', as in 'Se echó a sus pies' which does not (unfortunately) refer to a pie throwing contest but 'He threw himself at her feet'.

A bit of History (optional)

 Most people living in Spain will have heard of La Guerra Civil. (The Spanish Civil War) (1936-39) which ended in victory for the fascist Italian, German and rebel 'Nationalist' Spanish forces under Generalisimo Francisco Franco Bahamonde (Franco) and led to Spain being a 'fascist'  dictatorship under Franco for 36 years. Many will have heard of the International Brigade, the non-Spaniards who came to Spain to fight on the republican side, but I bet that neither of my loyal readers will have heard of the 'Irish Brigade' that came from The Irish Free State to fight on the 'fascist' side. I only found out about it today when I was reading a piece in El País in English about a bar owner, Henk de Groot,  in Amsterdam whose bar is 'a shrine to Franco'.

                                           Henk de Groot in his bedroom....tasty.

Apparently his grandad was Irish and went to Spain with The Irish Brigade.

Badge of the Irish Brigade

Standard of The Irish Brigade
They were led by Eion (John) O'Duffy the leader of a small group of Irish fascists called 'The Blue Shirts' who wore blue shirts but changed their shirts and name to 'The Green Shirts'. Franco didn't want them to come to Spain and refused to pay for transport for the 700 volunteers. 200 made their own way to Spain and the others came on a German boat hired by O'Duffy. They managed to get hold of some German uniforms and dyed them green by boiling them in spinach.
The only two bits of  fighting they did were in a battle between themselves and some fascists from The Canary Isles. 17 men were killed in the  'friendly fire'. In the other piece of action, at Titulcia, two more were killed  and so they decided to call it a day. They were also having problems with 'the oily food and cheap wine' and had taken to calling their leader, O'Duffy, 'Johnny Bollocks'
In April 1937 the adjutant, Captain Gunning, ran off with their wages and passports and they went home via Portugal. In 1940, the Irish government burned all files relating to the 'Irish Brigade'. 

Memorial to The Irish Brigade, Limerick
Back to 2017.
 Visitors to Álora will notice that it's a bit tricky getting round town at the moment. The road is up again. Perhaps 'block paving' was a bad idea for a busy main road with lots of bends and heavy vehicles. I doubt if they will doing that again in a hurry. Meanwhile traffic is being directed up the rather steep Calle La Rampa and after that, I've no idea. I'm sure it will all be ready for Semana Santa which kicks off a week today with Domingo Ramos. 
By the time we arrive it should be all over bar the shouting .

Hasta luego.

Juanito Sánchez April 2nd. 2017.




  1. As enjoyable as ever Juan, I had picked up on the pies and hope that you tried them before purchasing, probably a bit chewy I surmise, however, the sight of sticky pigs' trotters was a little too much for my delicate constitution :-)

    Spring has finally sprung in sunny Brummagem, so, in the spirit of Ar Kid, I'll down a glass of Cava in your and Maureen's honour. Chin, chin, old bean!

  2. I thought of you when I was writing it.
    We don't go until April 18th. Fancy a drink before that?

  3. Indeed. Annie is finally driving again after 11 weeks of immobility so she's off to Cardiff tomorrow (Tuesday 5th) for a couple of days, possibly more depending on her mom's condition, but next week should be ok until Saturday when we'll all be going back to Cardiff on the 15th as Easter coincides with our eldest's birthday.

  4. Re.'roads up in Alora'. My experience has been that most of the roads are up, and getting steeper as I get older! Another enjoyable and educational read.