On the road again


We left Vejer de la Frontera yesterday (Friday) and stayed last night in a 14th century fortress (more on that later) in Caroma, near Seville.

The fast train took us from Seville at 8.45 this morning and we arrived in Montpellier in southern France just after 9 tonight.

Posting from now on will be somewhat haphazard, depending on time and internet access. In Spain free or low cost WiFi was widely available providing, as Inquiring Mind commented, a much better service than we get in much of New Zealand.

It’s  5 euro for one hour or 11 euro for 24 hours unlimited access at the Holiday Inn in Montpellier.

Spare ribs


Spare ribs on  New Zealand menu means a large, long rack of bones.

At La Brasa de Sancho in Vejer de Frontera, there’s less bone and more meat – and the meat is tender, tasty with the subtle flavour of the wood smoke from the fire over which it’s cooked.


They’re not eating our bread here


If I had to eat the same thing for lunch and dinner every day I’d complain but I’m quite happy to stick with the same breakfast for months on end.

Toast with cottage cheese and kiwi fruit in winter and topped with vegemite, cottage cheese and tomato in summer.

My bread of choice for the toast is either Vogels’ sunflower and barley or Burgen soy & linseed.

There is a lot to like about much of the food we’re eating in Spain, but we haven’t been able to find any bread which comes near Vogels or Burgen.

Still, early morning temperatures in the 20s and breakfasting on a roof top terrace with almost 360 degree views is pretty good compensation for that.


bread 2

bread 3

The bright green paddocks are growing rice.

July 19 in history


On July 19:

1553 Mary 1 takes the English throne from Lady Jane Grey.

1834 French painter Edgar Degas was born.

Self-portrait (Degas au porte-fusain), 1855

1848 The first Women’s Rights Convention opened at Seneca Falls, launching the women’s suffrage movement in the USA.

1982 the Privy Council granted New Zealand citizenship to Samoans born after 1924.

Hot Lemon Drink for colds


My mother’s recipe for hot lemon drink for treating colds and sore throats.

Wash lemons and slice with skin intact.

Put in pot and cover with water.

09 various 071

Bring to boil, add honey to taste (depends on how sour lemons are and how sweet you like the drink).

Simmer a few minutes.

Remove from heat, strain and serve.

Evenif you’re not drinking it immediately it’s important to strain the drink. It goes bitter if the lemon is left in it when it cools.

09 various 072

In spite of my tartan genes I haven’t acquired a taste for whisky but those who have recommend adding a wee dram.

Saturday’s smiles


A blonde police officer stopped a blonde driver and asked for her licence.

The driver searched through her handbag but couldn’t find it.

“What does it look like?” she asked.

“It’s rectangular and has your photo on it,” the cop replied.

The driver scrabbled through her handbag again, pulled out her mirror, peered into it, handed it to the cop saying, “Yes, that’s me, here it is.”

 The cop looked at it for a moment then said, “Oh sorry I didn’t realise you’re a police officer too.”

(Choice inspired by this at Smething Should Go Here).

July 18 in history


On July 18:

1848 English cricketer W.G. Grace was born.

W G Grace taking guard, 1883

1855 New Zealand’s first postage stamps went on sale.

1918 Nelson Mandela ws born.

1925 Adolf Hitler published Mein Kampf.

1984 Beverly Lynn Burns became the first female to captain a Boeing 747.

Capt. Burns on flight deck of DC-10 c.1993

The Second Coming


The choice of this Friday’s poem was inspired by Slouching towards Wellington at Bowalley Road.

It’s The Second Coming by W.B. Yeats.

     The Second Coming

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

                – W.B. Yeats –

El Jardin del Califa


La Casa del Califa  is one of Vejer de la Frontera’s gems.


The hotel is made up of a collection of houses dating from the 1oth century to 17th centuries.

califa 4

It also has a wonderful restaurant, El Jardin del Califa, which serves delicious Moroccan food.

califa 2

califa 3

After the boom


Spain was booming in 2005.

Contributing to that was the EU money which was being poured into infrastructure.

Nearly 85 million euro for roading here:


Around 50 million euro for irrigation development here:


Vejer de la Frontera where we lived and the surrounding area were benefitting from both these projects.

The discovery by British people of the Costa de la Luz , helped by their favourable exchange rate and EU interest rates, added to the economic growth.

Jobs were plentiful in construction, renovation and service industries, particularly hospitality.

The positive impact of the new roading and irrigation are obvious four years later but the boom is over. Unemployment is around 18% in Spain and it’s higher here in the south.

The pound has fallen against the euro making Spain less attractive to British people, there are cheaper places in eastern Europe to visit or buy property in and the recession in general is having a dampening effect on tourism and the local economy.

We’ve noticed a lot more little bars and cafes in the town, partly a response to job losses as people set up their own businesses to make a living. But there are fewer people visiting them.

One cafe owner told us the busy season has been getting shorter and this year custom is more variable. Another told us he usually has 10 tables with at least eight full from 9am to late at night. Yesterday there were only two tables occupied at lunchtime.

The language school I’m attending has noticed a down turn too and that will have an impact on other businesses which accommodate, feed and entertain the students.

This is still a beautiful old town, with many old buildings and attractions of historical and cultural interest. It’s close to several long, golden sanded beaches with guaranteed heat and sunshine every day of the summer.

There is a lot to attract visitors, but until the recession is over fewer of them will be enjoying its charms and the local economy will be leaner because of that.

Portability today, personal accounts tomorrow?


The news that the Australian and New Zealand governments are developing a scheme to enable trans Tasman portability of superannutaion is welcome.

Could personal superannuation accounts be the next step?

Can you still be a good mother if you don’t like children?


That was the headline of a story I cut from a now defunct (I think) British magazine, Options, years ago.

It looked at the stages children go through and the relevant skills they required from mothers. (This was more than 25 years ago, and didn’t mention fathers).

Each stage was different, required different skills and the writer said most mothers coped better with some stages than others.

The mother who is bored rigid by the first few weeks/months when babies don’t do a lot might enjoy the next stage. Others who love that first, totally dependent stage might not be so enamoured by the doing lots and making mess stage which comes later.

The story concluded by saying that no-one gets it right, nor enjoys it, all the time. There are some days when you really don’t like your children, or at least what they’re doing/saying but as long as you still love them you, and they, will generally get through the tough times.

I was reminded of this when I read Do I look like this is the best job ever? by Eleanor Black at Pundit.

It’s easy once your child is an adult to forget quite how challenging those sleep-deprived days when you were on call for 24 hours a day could be.

When the baby whose early arrival cut short my employment on a radio station was 18 months old I went back to work to relieve my successor for a couple of weeks. A friend who saw me thought I was pregnant because I looked so serene.

I was as it happened, but that wasn’t the cause of my serenity. It was just the enjoyment and ease of being back at a job I loved, where I was never required to do more than two or three things at once and wasn’t threatened with constant interuptions from a little someone who needed me RIGHT NOW.

Will he be making his mark for Labour?


The news that Ron Mark has severed his ties with New Zealand First, mentioned in the Herald yesterday, has been rumoured for some time.

What intrigued me was this comment that he :

. . . would not rule out returning to politics with another party.

The grapevine that spread the rumour about his leaving NZ First, also reckons he’s going to have a tilt at a mayoralty in the lower North Island then stand for Labour in the Wairarapa seat in 2011.

July 17 in history


On July 17:

1917 US comedian Phyllis Diller was born.

1936 The Spanish Civil War  began.

1939 Paddy the Wanderer, a canine identity on the Wellington waterfront, died.

1955: Disneyland televised its grand opening at Anaheim.

They’re listening to our music here


Driving through Cadiz with only half an ear on the radio I realised something sounded familiar – it was Split Enz singing Weather With You.

Did you see the one about . . .


Holidays at Oswald Bastable

What’s the Point of United Future? at Fairfacts Media (one in a series looking at NZ political parties).

 How to cook a hairy sausage at Quote Unquote.

It’s not okay to be blind drunk and expect police to be there at Cactus Kate.

Spot the criminal at Macdoctor.

Today’s referendum at Keeping Stock (also one in a series).

Read aloud to your children at NZ Conservative.

The Four Pillars at Fenemy.

Comics in the clinics at Not PC.

And a new (to me) blog: A cat of impossible colour  (Hat Tip: Open Parachute)

1984’s crisis provided opportunity for change


Kiwiblog reminded me  it was 25 years ago yesterday that the Lange government came to power.

One of the fascinating aspects of the radical changes made by his government is that generally centre right and right wing people accept the need for them while those on the left do not.

Many of those in the previous government and their supporters who like to call them the “failed policies of the 80s” display selective memory, because they supported them at the time. They also fail to acknowledge that few of the fundamental policies the Lange-Douglas government introduced, and subsequent National administrations under Jim Bolger and Jenny Shipley built, on have been reversed.

Labour governments from 1999 tinkered with some of the legislation which dragged us into the real world, tempering it a bit, but they left the foundations on which our economy now stands untouched.

It took a crisis to bring those changes about. The situation we’re facing now isn’t as bad as it was then, but 10 years of deficits is a very gloomy prospect.

Could the government use that as an opportunity to develop a plan for more radical changes and if so would MMP allow them to be implemented?

Train stop stops town


Okay, I exagerate, but the news the Overlander was going to stop in Taihape did cause some excitement:

Word quickly spread around Taihape that a passenger was getting off the train in their town.

Elizabeth Mortland of the Taihape Community Trust says it was major news for the community – which has a population of just 1,788.

“The train, at long last, was going to stop,” she says.

Locals mustered a crowd on the station’s platform.

“There were a lot of people keen to see the train stop and see a passenger alight,” says Elizabeth.

They clapped and cheered for David, the man who stopped the train in their town.

This was the first time the Overlander had stopped in Taihape since April 10, 2005.

This is the town which prides itself on being the gumboot capital.

As a frequent wearer and fan of that footwear in the right place, I’m happy to say that’s a worthy claim to fame.

But when the townsfolk get this excited about a train stopping it suggests they’ve been sniffing their own gumboots too long.

Fair isn’t always equal


Succession is rarely easy and with farms there’s the added complication of emotion.

Usually the farm isn’t just a business it is, or has been, home to the owners and their family.

To further complicate matters one or more of the offspring may have been working on the farm, making a contribution to it and increasing  its worth, while others have not.

Then there’s a further complication if more than one of the children want to go farming if the property isn’t big enough for two or more.

If one or more get, or buy in to the farm at family rates, there is then a question of how to treat other siblings fairly.

Simply splitting the farm, or its value, by the number of offspring may give them an equal amount but it could cripple the business.

Another point to consider is what happens if one of the children gets the farm at family rates, then the property is subsequently sold? There is a case for putting a clause in the agreement which ensures that if the farm is sold, all siblings get a share of the capital gain.

Then there is also continuing income for the parents to consider and given that some succession plans still favour sons above daughters and mothers, this is of particular concern for women.

There have been some very sad cases where the farm has gone to the next generation and the widowed mother is left with little or no independent income. That shouldn’t happen now with the Matrimonial Property Act but if the farm was in a trust it still might.

If the farm is the parents’ they have the right to do what they will with it including staying on it or selling it and spending the proceeds.

However, most want to see a family member take over if s/he’s willing, and to ensure other family members get their fair share. There is no one way to get it right, but the stakes are high and getting it wrong can split families apart.

The best strategy is to start succession planning early, involve all the family and be open about figures and plans.

Regular family meetings are a necessary part of this. Held at least annually with an independent chair, it’s an opportunity to open the farm’s books and discuss plans for the future, both immediate and longer term, including when the parents are dead.

As one of our friends said, if children aren’t still friends after he and his wife have died, it will be the parents’ fault.

To quote another, you can’t always treat your family equally but you have a duty to treat them fairly.

July 16 in history


On July 16:

1880 Dr Emily Stowe became the first woman licensed to practise medicine in Canada.

1911 US actress and dancer Ginger Rogers was born.

in The Thirteenth Guest (1932)

1926 English novelist Anita Brookner was born.
1956 The Mont Blanc Tunnel opened.

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