THERE are many things a man needs to sustain him in life and one is rhubarb. There may well be items of greater importance, such as bread and butter, faith, humility and hot tea, but rhubarb is among the essentials. Anyone who has worked an allotment, or owned a back garden where dolly tubs rust quietly under elder trees and gutters sag from shed roofs, knows the one element that links them all is the rhubarb bed. A vegetable patch without rhubarb is like a hot-pot without potatoes. So this is my quest to grow rhubarb in Spain . . . Continue reading Ruibarbo, ruibarbo
LATE afternoon. And after two days of heavy Andalucian rain, which shorted out our electricity supply, the clouds break and Sierra de Lújar emerges from grey. I stand on the roof and feel the warmth of sunshine. For the briefest of moments I am in Scotland . . . Continue reading Just like Scotland . . .
I ONCE worked with two old boys called Carl and Jimmy. They weren’t old really, they just seemed old at the time. It was the early 1980s and I’d be in my late twenties, they in their early forties. Early forties isn’t old, unless you happen to be observing things from the viewpoint of someone twelve years younger . . . Continue reading Passing clouds
A BAND of Celts wander north into new lands and discover a broad river sweeping through forests. They are in awe of the river because it is deep and powerful. They give it a name, and the name is Esk. To later generations this possesses magical, almost ethereal, qualities. The name resonates so strongly it survives several waves of migration: Romans, Anglo Saxons, Scots, Vikings, Normans. Thousands of years after those Celts peered through the rushes, that river is still called Esk. That’s fascinating . . . Continue reading Stream of consciousness
CARROT World is a ruthless place. An unacceptably-high proportion of carrots are considered to be misshapen and are rejected by the shops. They are loaded into cattle trucks and taken to an unknown fate in the east. Only carrots that pass the supermarket suitability test are offered to the public – this is an extremely narrow and subjective view on carrot quality. It’s like saying that only long, thin people with perfect shoulders and fake tans should populate the Earth. That’s been tried and it doesn’t work. But the rule is applied to carrots . . . Continue reading It’s hard being a carrot
THE Carthaginians came and went. The Romans came, conquered and went. The Moors came, conquered and flourished. The Christians came, conquered, flourished, gave the world Franco, Morgan’s Tavern and the biggest holiday resort in Spain. Today, all those generations and waves of humanity later, this city of concrete, glass and pizza has more high-rise buildings per capita than anywhere else on the planet. This cauldron of cultures has history, sand, sunshine and karaoke bars. It’s a world within a world and a shock to the systems of the unprepared. It’s big, it’s brash and it’s brazenly brassy. It’s Blackpool with bocadillos and barbequed Brits, a beautiful blister set on a sun-baked beach. And it’s still known by its Moorish name – Benidorm . . . Continue reading Benidorm. Bring it on.
TREVELEZ is not a good place to be a pig in the same sense Morecambe Bay is not a good place to be a shrimp or Aberdeen a good place to be a big meaty bull. Herring have a similar problem with Mallaig and the Isle of Man where, if they’re not careful, they can find themselves converted into kippers. Haddock face an identical fate in Arbroath and an afterlife as an Arbroath smokie; turkeys hesitate before visiting Norfolk; and only ducks that can stare death in the face and quack at adversity have any stomach for Aylsebury . . . Continue reading Hamming it up . . .