A Travellerspoint blog

A Good Attitude

What gives you a good life? YOU do. Yep, the type of life you live is down to you and no one else. Feeling society has the better of you? Feel the government has let you down? At the end of the day the only thing that lets you down is you; your attitude! Not only does your outlook on life affect you, it affects those around you. Heard of the domino effect? That’s your attitude. If you are grouchy then those around you grouch too. Smile and the world smiles with you.

I remember Paul’s mother came to visit a just over a year ago. I was glad when Mrs. Grouch went home. We’d told her northern Spain is quite different from the south in many ways certainly poles apart Norfolk. She’d only been here a day when she declared that she didn’t like the food, the locals didn’t eat at times that suited her and she complained the area was full of mountains! She shouted when she realised that the people here didn’t speak English as if that would make them understand. Her attitude couldn’t be swayed and it wasn’t long before Paul and I realised we didn’t want to be around someone with such a negative attitude.

What is the lesson here? It’s that we can’t all be the same. Each person (and country) is different. A positive and tolerant attitude makes the world go around. God made us all different for a reason. I am thankful I have the opportunity to meet people of different backgrounds. We all have something to offer to a positive lifestyle.

What I am thankful for? Firstly, I walk with God. I am thankful for my life. Then, I have a roof over my head and food on the table. I have enough money to pay the bills; I live my life according to my income. I am thankful for Paul and then my friends. I am even thankful for my failures. The more failures I have, the more I can learn. Learning from my failures has given me all the successes I have had in my life.

Don’t be a Mr. or Mrs. Grouchy. Be a Lord or Lady Happy Attitude. Look for the good in all you have. Dig deep enough and you’ll find the goodness; it’s always there. Infect the world!

Posted by SpanishRos 07:44 Tagged attitude. positive Comments (0)

Carlos

Local characters are ten a penny. Unique personalities are priceless, someone to be treasured.
Carlos is such a persona. Typically Asturian, he is short and stocky with a Bulldog neck. He struts around the village on elephantine legs and laughs in tones that Joe Pasquale would be proud. He is known as the Cow Patrol. He is often seen just standing, gazing at the local Frisians. He has a kinship with them. He knows when they are ill or pregnant before the vet makes his diagnosis. His stockiness gives him the strength of a champion wrestler. His simplicity gives him the meekness of a lamb. Local gossip says his mother left him when he was two years old. In the bars you’ll hear she went to be a prostitute in Leon. She never came back. His father died awhile later in a car accident. His grandparents took him in. The grandmother died of an illness born of poor diet and lack of medical attention. He still lives with a grandfather whose mind is lost in the past at the bottom of a whiskey bottle. Incest is whispered. In the mountains rumours and fact go hand in hand. Who knows the truth? Not Carlos.
. Late one afternoon Carlos calls. He is selling raffle tickets for the local fiesta, just two euros. Paul buys one. Carlos leans over the balcony, chatting in his thick Asturian accent. Paul does his best to converse but understanding Carlos is difficult at the best of times. Fifteen minutes pass; it seems an eternity. We wonder if Carlos will ever go. Finally, Carlos says he needs to go to Faedo, a pueblo in the mountains beyond Biescas where, according to the locals, the world ends. He says he has to go at half past seven. Paul apologises but he can’t take him. He is thankful he had that large glass of wine with his lunch. Carlos laughs almost hysterically. The Guardia might stop me, Paul says. Carlos laughs shrilly. I’m worried he’ll break the mirror.

“La mujer?” Carlos asks.

“Rose,” Paul bleats, “we’ve got a problem.”

I go to the door.

“I think Carlos wants to go to Faedo,” Paul explains. “He is quite insistent.”

“What? Now?” I snap.

‘Hee, hee, hee. hee’ is Carlos’ shrieking reply, his heading nodding like a garden gnome. He decides maybe now is as good a time as any. I resent not succumbing to that caloric filled glass of wine.

“Vamos,” I say firmly, snatching the car keys off the hook.

Turning right at the Biescas sign, the road begins to narrow, climbing as it does. Potholes cover most of the road and it’s difficult to find a route where the car doesn’t bounce. Carlos screeches with mirth. I fear my right ear might be perforated by the time we get there. The wine has done Paul a double favour. He hasn’t had to negotiate this road nor does he have to sit beside Carlos.

The road climbs higher as it narrows even more. I pray we don’t meet anything coming the other way. But then no one else would be foolish enough to drive along this road; would they?
I open the window. Carlos has obviously doused himself with the full range of Cow Pat Cosmetics which is so popular in these parts.

We reach Biescas and turn left to Faedo. The road here makes the one we just journeyed along seem state of the ark.

“Where are we going?” I mutter, sarcastically.

“God knows. I just hope Carlos does,” Paul replies.

“Todo recto,” Carlos says, excitedly, pointing along what passes for a road.

So, we’re going straight on, beyond this mysterious Faedo that looks as if died with Franco. Up, up and up. I feel that at anytime soon I’ll be soaring with the ubiquitous buzzards. Casting an eye to my right I see we’re level with the surrounding mountains. I dread to think how high we are. I understand how Hillary must have felt when he was on top of the world.

Carlos continues to prattle and shriek like a child on its birthday, whilst. I wonder how many more I’ll live to see.

“Arriba, arriba,” Carlos’ finger waggles in the air, and we know we have further to go.

Civilisation ended just before Faedo. Unforgiving thoughts creep through my head. We’ve always bought his darned raffle tickets so he couldn’t have brought us high into this foliage filled no man’s land with ulterior motives. Could he?

‘Hee, hee, joyful hee’ continues Carlos as he utters a forceful ‘stop’. We stop. We’re outside a large house. Carlos gets out the car and asks us to wait. We nod, unsure of what else to do.

“It’s a bar,” Paul says and points.

Along the side of the house there’s a sign that confirms his statement. There is a public telephone too. Who goes to a bar up here? We shake our heads in disbelief. A horse trots onto the forecourt. Un-tethered, he enters into a game of footie with a Scottie dog. An aproned housewife bustles from ‘somewhere’ out back into the front door and waves. We shyly wave back. I start humming ‘The Witch Queen of New Orleans’ and Paul shudders.

The minutes pass. Our eyes wander. I spot a doorless shed. Through the opening I spy a large freezer, half hidden by a pile of old tyres. I shudder too. The breeze had stilled awhile back but the leaves still twitched in the silent stillness that shrieked all around us.

Half an hour is almost a decade. Carlos appears still grinning with a cardboard box tied up with string which he outs in the boot. He gets back in the car, clutching a plastic bag full of something upon which we dared not ponder.

We breathe a sigh of relief as the engine purrs into life. I keep my eyes on the road ahead not wanting to look in the mirror less the mysteries of the freezer be revealed.

“Queries cafe?” Carlos says, jovially. We nod, hesitantly. We know we’re sharing the same thoughts. Is he inviting us for coffee? Do we really want to go for a coffee with him? And in a place like this? He hands Paul the plastic bag. He peers inside, tentatively. There are half a dozen sponge cakes. A torrent of words in the local Bable dialect tumble from his mouth. He repeats them. Our expressions have told him we don’t understand. Seemingly it’s a present for waiting. Sponge cakes to go with coffee or hot chocolate for breakfast; a local delicacy.

“Gracias,” we say in unison and the thanks are genuinely heartfelt. Our faith in human nature has been restored.

We descend the mountain, glad to be heading home. Somewhere in the village, Carlos asks to be dropped off. He disappears into the twilight with his box. I’ve heard it said good deeds are rewarded in Heaven. Our reward was coffee in a local bar. On our own......!

Posted by SpanishRos 06:58 Comments (0)

Over the hill at fifty......

I’m fifty four, fast approaching fifty five. I’m over the hill and on the scrap heap. No one wants me. Pity party? No, it’s the truth of twenty first century Britain.

So, what’s my story? Similar to many others in their mid fifties, I suspect. In my forties my partner and I had a dream of a prosperous retirement. Taking early retirement we moved to Spain. After 33 years in retail banking I was entitled to take my bank pension at 50. The boat yard where Paul had spent thirty years closed down. He had no company pension and his salary wasn’t sufficient for him to be able to put aside enough retirement.

We talked and planned. Homework was done. We phoned the pension office who gave us our pension forecasts. They confirmed my retirement age as 60. Our bungalow sold for £210,000. There was ten thousand pounds for expenses. Half the remainder was put aside to buy our house in Spain. The other half was banked for our future.

We bought our house when the pound was 1.41€. I based our annual income on the rate at 1.40 down to 1.15. If it ever falls to 1.15 we’ll just about scarp through the year, I joked. Our monetary plans had five year segments. We had five years to go ‘til I was 60 & ten ‘til Paul reaches 65. That’ll do nicely. Life looked rosy.

Eighteen months into our residency the finance world went haywire. The rate went down to almost parity, decreasing our annual income by around 3000€. Bugger. Somehow we survived with keeping our expenditure to the minimum. Sixty was looking better all the time!

My passport needed renewing. Paul was checking the relevant website. He deviated.

“I don’t think this is right,” he said. “It says you aren’t getting your pension until you’re sixty five.”

“It’s definitely sixty. They told me on the telephone before we moved,” I told him.

A phone call confirmed my retirement age as sixty five. Shock, horror.

We have money in the bank but how much dare we touch in the forthcoming years? What if sixty five becomes sixty six becomes sixty seven for both men and women?

Moving back to England was an option. We’d never get a house like this with the amount of land we have back in England for £93,000. Back in good old Blighty we’d never be able to live on the money we do here, no matter how frugal we became. At least here we don’t have to pay water rates or community charges. Car tax is 57€ a year and we can get a drinkable bottle of wine for less than a euro.

Back in England we’d have to get jobs. But when it comes to the crunch, how many people are willing to employ a couple of fifty five year olds? In a recent survey it was discovered that the number of older workers trapped in a spiral of joblessness has soared by fifty percent in a year; the highest in a decade. Older workers have been the biggest victims of a recession panic that saw businesses slash costs by getting rid of long serving and, most significantly, more expensive staff.

There are renewed claims of widespread prejudice against older workers who are unfairly seen as slow and unable to keep up with modern technology. I maybe almost fifty five but I have the outlook of a thirty five year old. Like many ‘golden oldies’ I am totally IT literate. I’m not afraid of hard work. I’m positive with a wealth of experience and a lot of working life left in my body, but no one wants me..

Someone recently remarked that in their twilight years they had more money than they’d ever had. Maybe that was true once upon a time but in this present financial climate I don’t believe there is such a thing as a golden oldie anymore.

What are my hubby going to do? Stay put in Spain. We’ll don our wellies, get out the spade and fork, plant a lot more veggies and open another cheap bottle of Spanish vino!

Posted by SpanishRos 02:20 Comments (0)

How many ---

How many people does it take to help me get a new passport? About a dozen----

Why do people assume we all have the niceties of the twenty first century? I live in the Asturian Mountains in northern Spain. We’re unable to be connected to the internet. Five days a week we go to teleCentro in Brieves, five kilometres away. They have satellite internet.

I am a UK passport holder who lives in Spain with Spanish residency. I’m getting married this month & need to find out about renewing my passport. I phoned the British Embassy in Madrid who told me to phone the Spanish Embassy, also in Madrid. They referred me back to the British Embassy who then suggested I phone the UK Passport Office back in the UK. They told me I would have to ring the Foreign Office who said I needed to go on line & download the relevant forms. I don’t have the internet, I told him. Oh, he was stumped. Then he suggested I phone the Commonwealth Office. In their turn they refereed me back to the British Embassy in Madrid who said I needed to phone the Passport Careline. Hallelujah – I spoke to a very nice man who could actually help me. He promised to send me the forms which I must complete & return back to his office complete with my old passport. I wait with baited breath.

I guess it’s the way of the future that without internet it will be impossible to live a ‘normal’ life.

Whilst I was on the phone I mentioned to him that my mother was 89 & I really did need to retain my old passport in order to travel back to the UK should anything happen to her. Oh, no problem he tells me. In that scenario we’ll just issue you with emergency documentation to enable for you to fly back to the UK. Interesting.......

Posted by SpanishRos 07:39 Comments (0)

Bluffers

Busy, busy, busy – working on The Book. I hope to be finished this first draft at the end of September. Then will come the hard work of the second and third edits. Hopefully it will be finished in its entirety by next Easter. That is my goal. Then will come the time when I’ll be sending off the blurb to agents and publishers, whilst praying and hoping....

I’ve actually found a friend who is giving me valuable feedback on my book. Several offered before & said they were reading it but I knew they weren’t! The blog site where I post it has no followers! Then the only comments they say is “It’s nice.” What’s nice? Nice doesn’t tell me anything & besides the start takes place in a war & what’s so nice about that? I’d rather people said they don’t have the time or they don’t want to rather than bluff.

Why do people promise to do something then don’t, hoping they’ll get away with a bluff? OK, things happen where you can’t always keep a promise. That’s life. It happens. Why not just be honest? Being honest isn’t a crime. Bluffers always get found out. Bluffers lose credibility.

Posted by SpanishRos 07:39 Comments (0)

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