Sunday, January 22, 2006

Right under our noses

Taiwanese scientists have succeeded in breeding luminous pigs.

Food technologists will be able to develop luminous pork scratchings (pork rind), ideal for the movies and other dimly lit entertainment venues.

The luminous skin could be the new fashion must have. Glow in the dark leather wear would be a hit with night club patrons and possibly those in the sex industry!

The pigs could be an eco friendly, but smelly, way to light up ‘el Campo’


Deep division exists between, those who favour the building of a 400 kilovolt power line to supply French nuclear generated electricity to Spain; and those against. The power line ‘Mast Alta Tension’ it is claimed, is required to supply the TGV link between Paris and Barcelona.

Catalan protest groups have rallied under the banner of ‘No MAT’, their supporters have added to the graffiti which adorns many public areas in the region. The meetings have attracted both widespread support and influential speakers. Nearly all end with supper and a dance; quite civilised really.

Thursday, January 19, 2006


Barca's midfield utility player Gabri is being linked to my home town club Middlesbrough F.C. I wonder if he could persuade one or two of his team mates to travel with him; perhaps ETO'O would like a new challenge.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Oh! Aye, I read a book once

University of Adelaide Library E-Books

The big man from Bradford did not wait for an invitation, he took a seat at my table.
I smiled and acknowledged his greeting, before returning to my book.
His curiosity was aroused,
"What are you reading?" he asked
Essays by Michel de Montaigne I replied showing him the cover
"Oh! Aye, I read a book once" he said.
"Really" I replied, showing polite interest though somewhat surprised.
"I can't remember what it was called, but it were a bigun" he added.
I knew then that my reading would have to wait. Instead we would spend yet
another evening discussing the varying amount of chopped green chilies he would add to each of the dishes in his favourite Tandoori restaurant back home.
Sometimes you need a distraction...

One of the problems of living in a foreign land is finding enough reading material. A useful site for online texts in English, is the website of The University of Adelaide Library(see link above).
The site lists authors alphabetically, and allows you to read online or download the book for your own use.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Life's a gas

The Daily Telegraph are reporting that Repsol are bidding for the Liquid petroleum gas division of Shell.

Obviously they are not expecting 'GasNatural' to connect us country folk up any day soon. The market amounts to 300 million euros per annum.

The writer Malcolm Moore states, "the (bottled) gas is popular in rural areas..."

Oh! No it's not it is a pain in the butt!

He obviously does not have to lug these relics of a bygone age around his own home. BBQ's do not count.

Even my Romanian gas delivery man was astounded at how primitive this system is; in what is supposedly an advanced society.

Don't even mention Broadband Internet! After all it is only the 21st. Century.

Sunday, January 15, 2006


Bear necessities of Life!

What was believed to be the last remaining female example of the Pyrenees bear, "Cannelle" (French for cinnamon) was shot by a French hunter a year ago. Though lamented by Mr. Chirac at that time, there has been no further news on the promised re-introduction of the species. The bears are largely vegetarian and would be a sad loss to the mountain habitat; there must be enough space in the vast and rugged terrain.

I spoke to a Danish couple who had spent the summer of that year touring the Spanish Pyranees, of all the fantastic things they had seen the sight of a brown bear approaching their Camper van was the true highlight of their visit.

If the Government are serious about promoting rural and eco tourism the re-introduced bears would be a great symbol of their commitment.

Until then this example in the city of Figueres is as close as you can get!

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Feliz Navidad

Christmas Day in Tenerife. The winter sunshine was perfect a comfortable temperature of 24C. most days.

It was good to see so many familiar faces again, and to exchange our experiences of the last twelve months.

Harry in Thailand (see links) is a book which is in turn a humerous account of the exploits of an old friend who should know much better.

Please give Harry some encouragement by leaving your thoughts on the story so far in the comments field.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

My place in the Sun

My short journey from Girona airport to the house on January 28th. 2005 was filled with quite reasonable expectations of an escape from cold and damp Britain. There was a lot of work to do on the house and there would be considerable disruption, we needed to have all the contractors working as a team to minimize delay and meet our spring deadline.

As the sun set over the mountains, the taxi driver cheerfully told me that on the past two days the temperature had climbed to 20 degrees C. Spring was on the way!

My first task was to drive to Olot and speak to the double glazing company about their pending installation work. Olot is higher than our house and set in a volcanic area surrounded by high terrain. The mountain air was fresh, cool and invigorating. As the sun began to set I started out on my journey home, the car thermometer was reading low. And then it snowed, and how it snowed. The cold mountain air swirled the snow flakes in the car headlamps, as features of the landscape disappeared into the blizzard then so did the road. A forty minute journey took twice as long in the treacherous weather.

The weather we had come to Spain to avoid was all around us. A Siberian winter was unfolding. The snow did not last long the air was freezing but devoid of moisture. The strong Traumontana winds blew for 45 of the first sixty days of 2005, the wind chill of all wind chills. Spring was no longer on the way! February was cold. So cold in fact that I heard of some expats who left Spain and returned home to face an English winter.

I had travelled out alone to arrange for central heating to be fitted prior to decorating and the later furniture shipment. We had spent several months researching the different systems, and wished to install a geo-exchange ground pump to extract energy from the ground of the large agricultural part of the finca. To this end, I had contacted the representatives of Spain on the international bodies responsible for the promotion of renewable energy for advice as well as several large scale commercial engineering organizations.

The rocky nature of the land meant that excavation or drilling was expensive. The companies which all had glossy web presentations, seemed to lack confidence in their own abilities when the specifics of the task were discussed. The heat pump was not viable.

Underfloor heating for a house of 316 m2 was also cost prohibitive, we had to settle for radiators.

The massive disruption caused during the installation had to be seen to be believed 9" of concrete had to be excavated to take the water pipes; and so in the end had to budget to re-tile the whole of the house as well.

One particularly cold afternoon the North African heating engineer ran out into the garden whooping with delight

"It's snowing! It's snowing never in my life have I seen snow" he called to me.

"Really! I returned only one week ago and already I've seen it twice" I replied with slightly less enthusiasm.

Now, as I pack my bags to return to the Spanish Costa Brava after a winter sunshine holiday I am watching nervously as the thermometer keeps falling; and reading of the record number of UK ski and snow board tourists arriving at Girona airport en-route to Andora.