Thursday, 29 November 2007

Bending the Rules

or making them up as you go along.

Paperwork is king in Ibiza. Bureaucracy's gone mad and a mountain of paper is needed for everything.

I'm trying to renew my 'Residencia' here. One of the pieces of paper I need is a certificate from the town hall which says where I live. Both Jaki and I spent a whole morning at the town hall some years ago getting the right papers so we could tell them where we lived. At the time we elected that in the future only I would have to go (along with her residents' card) to make any changes to our status.

Yesterday I went to collect the certificates for both of us, only to be told that Jaki had to physically be there to request hers because I can only make changes not collect her certificate. So I said I'll ring her now and she'll be here in two minutes.
'Is she here in Ibiza?' asked the girl.
'She's in our house just over there,' I replied. 'You know where I live,' I said to Vicent (the San Jose Village Idiot), lounging on the counter. His afirmative grunt spurred the girl into action and she gave me the certificates.

Later that very day a portly local policeman came to our door to tell us that our car was illegally parked. After a long conversation in which we exhausted all the possibilities about why I couldn't park there the eventual reason was that 'it is forbidden to park in the oldest street in the village.'

A new one on me but perfectly feasable in Ibiza.

Footnote. In years gone by, in the St. Helens of my childhood, Vicent (the village idiot from above) would have been called 'soft,' as in 'soft in th'ead.' In our politically correct times he has been given an important function to perform in the village. His job is to unlock our public toilets just after everyone has gone to work, and lock them as they go home for lunch. Ditto the afternoon session. See, in Ibiza, everything stops for siesta.

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

We're S-H-O-PP-I-N-G.

Those of you living in the civilised west or most other non-medieval societies will be used to buying pretty much what you want when you want. You're all aware of my rants regarding non-availability of basic commodities in our big supermarkets (my recent trip to Soller Syp uncovered similar deficiencies - the vegetable section at 1.30 pm consisted of a tomato!) but do you know about shop opening times in Ibiza?

Well, other than Saturday mornings, they're the same as work times. So when you go to work in a morning, the shops open. When you finish for lunch, they close. Ditto the afternoon session. So when do you buy? Why, Saturday morning, when you have a chink of light in the window of opportunity until 1.30, when everything closes until Monday.

Whatever you do, don't hang a 'back in 10 minutes' sign on your office door and dash out at breakneck speed during your coffee break to make a vital purchase because you'll find an identical sign adorning the locked shop door!

Christ alone knows how the shops make any money at all. My own theory is that they are merely a gigantic money laundering operation for the Ibicenco Mafia's drug dealing operations.

The Pacha Cocaine Mountain (allegedly)

Our extremely efficient Syp supermarkets have made an effort to make life easier for us by introducing a delivery service. And guess what? They only deliver when you're at work - the four hour lunch period when you just could be at home to receive your order is when the delivery boy is also at home having his lunch.

Even better, they've now introduced an order preparation service. You let them know what you want and they shop for you. I can see you all now imagining me sitting at home, ticking boxes on my laptop - 1 tomato, some oregano, oh and some charcoal please - as my order speeds through cyber space to Syp HQ.

Unhappily you're wrong, what happens is I have to get a special order form from the supermarket, fill it in in black ink and then drive down there and hand it in. Please don't let them all be on a coffee break when I arrive!

Saturday, 24 November 2007

Tarmageddon in Ibiza

The boys from the blackstuff visited us without warning on Thursday. We knew something would be happening within the decade as one of the flaggers had told me that the tarmac gang would appear 'soon.'

On Tuesday night they all disappeared and didn't come back on Wednesday. The plan worked. Everyone in the street, lulled into a false sense of security, was taken completely by surprise when the big yellow roadmaking machine turned up to block the road.

You might know that our lane ends in a goat farm so if our end is blocked then anyone living at the top has nowhere to go. Just ask my neighbour Harry, who had to be at the airport and so had to trundle his cases hundreds of metres down the street to a point where it wasn't blocked. It's a shame they couldn't have removed the lampposts from the middle of the pavement so he could have trundled a little more easily.

You might also know that our lane is the oldest in the village and has a four hundred year old watchtower at one end and the former school and mayor's house, also 400 years old, at the other. You might also know that Ibiza is a World Heritage site, however if you came to our street you'd have no inkling of our heritage at all.

Our new tarmac has given the lane the 'Milton Keynes' look. Lacking charm, character and rusticity we've lost our heritage along with a good proportion of a crop threshing circle, a large palm tree and an almond tree that were torn down to make way for our new pavement.

When will the powers that be learn that people don't come to Ibiza to look at miles and miles of tarmac, they come for the breathtaking scenery and beaches we have. A couple of minutes extra journey time is worth the trouble.

Footnote. Our new tarmac already has a hole caused by our local water company. We've been telling them that there was a leak in the street since June - so when do they come to repair it??

Sunday, 18 November 2007

Lazy Sunday Afternoon

It's the third anniversary today of the purchase of our house. You can't imagine a more stressful performance. We strolled up the street from the bank to the Notary Public's office with €120 grand in cash in Jaki's handbag and in a process which took about 4 hours to complete and involved up to 14 people all crammed into the room together we eventually

sold our apartment
bought our house
paid off the former owner's mortgage
paid wads of tax on his behalf
had wads of advance capital gains tax deducted from our selling price.

So after a year in which we viewed over 30 properties, had our offer for the purchase of not one, not two, but three houses, accepted and then returned after the owners decided not to sell (like you do) and finally being gazundered twice by would be purchasers of our apartment, we had done it.

We collected the keys, sped up to the house, ran in and stood on the balcony in the sun and I rang my father. His reply to my garbled 'we've done it' message was
'did you watch that match on Saturday?'

So we're celebrating today by having a lazy day - I have a major hangover courtesy of the Posh-Taylors who took us out to El Sol de Siena last night for a fab five hour session of feasting and drinking.

We're having roast lamb with all the trimmings later but relaxing by the fire now.
Marli bagged pole position in front the fire

Flossie's on the settee

Mouse joined her there

Whilst Charlie stayed in his plant pot.

Spook is not with the other contestants in the Big Brother House.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

A Step in the Right Direction

Ibiza Blog Power Rules!! It seems that the powers that be in San Jose town hall are reading my blog. It just proves that a good old cyberwhinge can work wonders......
As I was going out with Marli today someone was shouting through our gate. One of the contractors asked if I could open the gate so he could put a step in. As it was perilously close to the 4 hour lunch hour which tends to eat into the working day I had a feeling that the work wouln't be done in one session. It wasn't.

'We'll come back later,' he said.

'No probs,' said I, 'just ring the bell.'

and he did, there and then.

'No, ring it when you come back,' I explained.

And here's the happy ending........

Though I still still keep asking myself where all these wheelchair users are going to go. They can't turn round, they can't get into any drives, and the pavement ends in a brick wall at the top of the street. They'll all end up there like trolleys outside the supermarket after the Friday big shop!

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Kerb Your Enthusiasm

Last January a man from the council turned up in our street to give us all some really good news. Our narrow street was to be made even more narrow by widening the pavement! As we live on a lane which ends up in a goat farm a couple of hundred yards up we don't actually have that many pedestrians hurrying to and fro. In fact if we see one person on foot passing by every fortnight, that's a lot.

That same week the council's contractors came along and put the new kerbstones in and left. This week, only 10 months later, they're back to finish the job.

So why do we need a new super wide pavement at the expense of a road which is now so narrow that we can't park on it? Why it's for the many disabled people confined to wheelchairs who in the past have had to trundle with extreme difficulty up the lane.

I'm all for making life easier for people whether able bodied or disabled and would applaud the council's thoughtfulness and concern on this issue where it not for one small point.


If you couldn't get a wheelchair up before, you can't now because the lampposts still occupy their former position on the pavement.

Of course, there's even more irony to come because to make life easier for the flaggers, they've put the new flags straight over the old ones thus increasing the height of the pavement also. This means that the step up from our path to the pavement is now a whopping 43 cms (or 17 inches if my father ever reads this) which would merit a Thora Hird style stair lift should I ever lose the use of my legs in anything more permanent than an alcohol induced loss of control.

I have had some personal dealings with council staff and would advise anyone with tendencies towards apoplexy not to get involved. Here's a snippet of conversation twixt him and me.

me. 'When you make this pavement wider for no good reason I won't be able to park my car in front of my house.'

him. 'If you lived in Madrid you wouldn't be able to park in front of your house!'

me. 'I don't live in Madrid.'

him. 'And if you lived in Barcelona, you wouldn't be able to either.'

me. 'I don't live in Barcelona.'

him. 'And Ibiza town.'

me. 'I don't live in Ibiza town, I live on a small lane in the middle of nowhere.'

him. 'This is the urban centre of San Jose.'

me. 'So are we going to get those antique style lampposts which are everywhere in the village?'

him. 'No.'

me. 'Why not?'

him. 'Because you're not in the urban centre!'

The moral of this tale is never engage in an argument with a Spaniard. No matter how right you are, you'll never win!

Friday, 9 November 2007

The Last Post

It is with some sadness that I have to announce that one of our street's most salient features is no longer with us.
Loved by all who live in the street and the envy of those who don't, the lamppost which stood smack in the middle of the junction was finally carted off today. Being able to make a left turn into our lane will be no recompense for its non-presence.

It had guarded this important village crossroads for many years, not only throwing light in the general direction of our medieval style public lavatories, but also carrying important electricity cables which enabled the neighbours to lead quite normal 21st century lives when it wasn't raining.

The post's demise has come as a result of a European edict that states that all electric cables now have to be underground. When we bought the house exactly 3 years ago (minus one week) and requested an electricity supply we were told that as the burial of the cables was imminent we'd have to wait without power until that happened. Luckily Gesa, the power company, relented and gave us power after only SEVEN months and we've been enjoying its intermittant supply ever since!

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Ibiza Cocktail

Remember the days when drinking cocktails was considered sophisticated? Singapore Slings, Manhattans and Margaritas slowly gave way to lurid concoctions with equally lurid names to leave us with the ubiquitous Ibiza Cocktail 'Sex on the Beach.'

To redress the balance I've developed my own healthy, yet delicious, cocktail, which not only can be swigged pre or post prandially, but also makes a handy starter if guests unexpectedly turn up for dinner.

Take one big jug (big jugs are so important for today's cocktails) with ice.

A Carton of Gazpacho

A large helping of vodka

Mix together and garnish with some parsley

And Hey Presto, there you have it. A Bloody Maria!

I'd like to thank food stylist Bethany Heald for her help in the making of this cocktail. She was invaluable in providing no inspiration but did leave me the ingredients last September.

Saturday, 3 November 2007

The Comedians

Comedians - have you stopped being, or have never been, funny?

Then BBC3 wants you to witter inanely between clips in its '100 Worst' programmes. Your pointless poking fun at the clip will evitate the BBC calling it the '200 Worst'!!!

(Though Christ alone knows how they'd deal with their '100 Worst Comedians' edition.)

And now a classic from Viz.

'My sides were still aching the day after a Jimmy Carr live stand-up routine. I was walking out after 5 minutes when I fell down the stairs and broke three ribs!'

Friday, 2 November 2007

Car Ahoy

I made a fleeting reference to our wonderful motorways in another post.

photo from diario de ibiza

This photo demonstrates just why the big information boards above the road advise caution in the rain and the speed limit has been reduced to 30 knots!

The Ibiza Christmas Miracle

The season's over. Long live the Christmas season!

The last tourists leave the island on 31st October like the last chopper leaving Saigon.

On November 1st the natives swathe themselves in swaddling scarves like cossacks on the Steppes.

On November 2nd the Christmas lights go up!

So what's the miracle? Well, many years experience of the Ibiza retail sector has taught us that if you go out looking to buy a specific thing, no matter how many shops you look in, you only ever find it in the last shop, if at all. If you do find it, buy it there and then, because it won't be there the next day or ever again.

Our task today (sounds like Challenge Anneka) was to get a rug for our chateau style boudoir, a task which i gave up on just as I got out of bed this morning. Anyway, blow me down, the first housey shop we entered had the very rug, and, get this, 30% OFF!!! Following guideline number 2 above, we bought it.

Novices that we are at buying the first thing we see, we continued to window shop and bugger me, in the very next housey shop, there was another, even better, more suitable floor coverer/feet keeperwarmerer! So we bought that! OK, so it was twice the price of the first one, but who cares?

Novices that we are at buying two things that we really like, we continued, and lo and behold in housey shop number 3 there was another freaking rug that was just the job.

It was a rug too far. I had to go and cool off in the crowds blocking the pavement in the newstand on the corner of the Vara de Rey and from there saw the Christmas illuminations. Thank you baby Jesus for the gift of shopping

Thursday, 1 November 2007