Saturday, November 29, 2008


This is the end of the road for my blog on life in Spain. Mainly because I no longer live there (and won't be moving back anytime soon), but also because I've (e)migrated my contact with my friends to Facebook, which I find a much better way of staying in touch. If I make further entries here it will be to do a bit of politicking. One of my good friends from the last project I worked on in Spain has taken up the cause I see.

I will still be visiting Blogger from time to time to check up on what's going on in Spain.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Lydia Cacho

For Spanish readers, this site is highly recommended. If you're not a Spanish reader, you can find her here in Wikipedia.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tolerancia cero

We have finally managed to get a rented house about a quarter mile from where we lived up until 2002. We're still getting settled in and are eagerly awaiting the delivery of a washing machine and fridge.
I've changed career totallyand am retraining to be a science teacher at secondary school. I've had some weeks at a school in Fareham observing teachers at work. As would be expected there is zero tolerance to bullying there.
The same cannot be said of the school our children attended in Casares. I have the photographic proof of injuries to our children to proove it. Strange how the teacher kept saying that our children walked into doors. Ten times in one day? I think not! I cannot think of any teacher there that would keep their QTS* more than a week given the lies they tell and outright racist attitudes they hold. In fact, I'll go through the standards one by one to show you how they fail non-Spanish children and let down their own. That will have to wait for another post.
I've got to get back to my coursework now, there's so much to do and the standards here in the UK are so high.
* Qualified Teacher Status

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

El retraso a nuestro pais

Well, we escaped from Casares and Spain.

Once we have ourselves established in something better than a caravan, we'll start with the dirt on Spain. At least at this range they can't touch us and their threats mean nothing.

Strangely I don't find the English rain depressing, more refreshing.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Al final de la carrerra.

I'm into the last hour at work now. Tomorrow we'll be doing our final packing.

The project where I've been working is also almost finished now. The platform will be floated next week I'm told and will sail shortly afterwards.

Our plans involve me going into teacher training in the UK. Carole is undecided about what she's going to do. We'll be on the road for the next week - Eurotunnel is SO much cheaper than the ferry.

Then we'll have to find soewhere to live in the UK. Buying a house seems stupid at the moment, so we're going to investigate alternative accomodation. More on that later.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Lo haremos para ella

Owing to a number of issues it looks like our life in Spain is drawing to a close.
The problems we've encountered I'll save for later once we've left.
However, to guarantee our childrens' health and education is why we came to Spain in the first place. Now it seems we must leave for the same reasons.
I don't believe that Spanish society has changed at all whilst we've been here, nor do I believe we came with "rose-tinted spectacles". Our childrens' needs have changed, and that alongside the darker aspects of Spanish society and institutions have made us realise that Spain is not where we want to be.
Where next? We have a number of options, but we'll almost certainly be moving house during the summer holidays. We'll probably rent the house out short-term and sell later, unless any of you dear readers are interested.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

El PSOE inicia los trámites para expulsar al alcalde de Estepona

MADRID, 17 (EUROPA PRESS) - PSOE headquarters have started the process of expelling the mayor of Estepona, Antonio Barrientos, from the party following indications of his involvement in an alledged corruption scandal over planning applilcations, according to PSOE sources.

Those sources also say if other socialist counsellors are implicated the party will expel them also. Policía Nacional officers are currently searching municipal offices. The mayor arrived at the town hall at 0910 accompanied by officers to carry out a search. The Puertosol building where the planning (counsellor Rafael Duarte, PSOE) and tax (counsellor Francisco Zamorano, PSOE) offices are located are also being searched.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Un mundo pequeño y mentes más así

Whilst out on a scouting trip at an hotel near Cádiz, I discovered this cart. It has come from less than 20 miles from where I used to live for many years.

After the last post I was called by social services to register their disapproval of what I wrote. I was also asked to call the current social worker back to arrange an appointment. The thing is that my wife has had enough of it. She sees that no progress has been made regarding the treatment of the children at school (i.e. blatant racism), and constant stonewalling by the authorities when it comes to doing anything that requires treating foreigners with dignity.

She (my better half) therefore has no wish to see the social worker again, and has forbidden me to call her. I must obey.

Lately I've not been posting much. The main reason has been I've been preoccupied with finding a new job after the current one ends in the summer (no fixed date yet). All the local staff agree that this is probably the best job they've had (or are ever likely to have) in Spain. No Spanish employer would treat their staff so fairly. I know only too well after previous jobs here. It seems highly likely that the next job will involve emigration from Spain.

I've (mostly) enjoyed my time here and have made some good friends in the last six years. For SWMBO it has been unending struggle against racism, obstruction and rudeness.

Rather than rant myself about all the things that went wrong, I shall let SWMBO do it - she's been contacted by the Daily Mail for her story.

Friday, May 02, 2008

¿Qué ha pasado con abril?

A whole month has slipped by without a single post.

The main reason has been our occupation with Suzie, her baptism at the local church, the baptism of a neighbour's baby, that baby's health problems and of course doing battle with the State over our rights.

The last item goes back to our arrival in Spain. We soon discovered that we qualify for familia numerosa which gives not inconsiderable benefits, especially when it comes to taxation. We first applied in 2005 and got the book last summer, after two years of jumping through hoops put there to stop extranjeros applying. So the book arrived just in time for Suzie's birth which meant we had to immediately ask for a re-issue or lose the entitlement. Suzie is now almost nine months old and we're still fighting the Junta. This despite the fact she was born here in Andalucía.

After a useful relationship with Miguel Angel, a genuinely caring social worker who made every effort to help us through the system, he has moved on to another case. The new SW is a complete waste of space. Unhelpful doesn't even cover it. We patiently explained to her that the Junta's position on the familia numerosa is not only unlawful since it goes directly against the European Accession treaty that Spain signed and against the Maastricht and Lisbon treaties, but that the Junta's attitude is institutionally rascist, openly discriminating against EU citizens who are guaranteed equal rights before Spanish law. Her reaction was to side with the Junta, saying that "Spain is a special case and Spaniards have special rights reserved for themselves". Not in social equality they don't. She should re-read the above-mentioned treaties.

We will give her one last chance to break the logjam, then it's off the the press, lawyer and European Commission with the case. I don't think the Spanish government will want to hand back their Social Fund grants to Brussels on top of the 63 million euro they've had to repay to the CAP.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Español para hablar con la sirvienta.

Many thanks to Juana la loca for finding this one - be careful you understand some Spanish before taking lessons. My children can always help with the ruder words.

Friday, March 14, 2008



I finally got the taxi entitlement - but didn't have to do the taxi exam to get it. If you want to know how you'll have to guess, it's not something I'm going to advertise, but it didn't involve bribing anyone.

No more paying for parking at the airport.

I'll be celebrating this weekend.

La atención al cliente no existe en España

Honestly, it's a foreign language to them. You can practically guarantee good service is only provided by extranjeros; argentine waiters, romanian builders, english mechanics etc.

Go into any Carrefour or El Corte Inglés here and you'll see what I mean. Staff who are supposed to be serving customers take a perverse delight in ignoring them and prefer to chat to their colleagues or on their mobile to friends and family or merely pick their noses rather than do the job they're paid for.

The concept that their salary is actually paid by their customers seems to escape them. I remember reading last year that of all Spanish companies that go into the export business, a third have abandoned it after just two years. Probably because they've pissed off their customers so much.

The crap service par excellence is of course provided by any state-run organisation or business. The complaints against Telefónica are legion, having passed into urban legend many years ago. They feature on expat bulletin boards on a monthly basis. However, even they are exceeded by the Health service, Town halls, Tax authorities, in fact any arm of the state.

Now I know why. In spain, to get a public service job you have to sit oposiciones, a sort of board exam. The interview is purpose-designed to weed out any extranjeros that have the temerity to apply. I know because I once applied for an English-speaking role at the local town hall (to deal with the english-speaking ratepayers). Needless to say the job was awarded to a local who could hardly string together a sentence in English, let alone communicate effectively. The impression I was left with was that this is racism by the back door, pretending to offer jobs to foreigners, only to exclude them in biased interviews.

And the photo? A colleague bought a car on French plates. It took 14 months to get the car registered here in Spain involving umpteen visits to the gestor to get it sorted. I even once had to go to Cádiz itself to visit tráfico there to check what the gestor was saying was true - he was lying out of his arse! Needless to say he won't be getting any repeat business or recommendations from me.

Juegos de niños II

As you can see, Charlie is getting creative with her Christmas present (mobile phone). So far none of the children have come back to me asking for a credit top-up, so I guess they're not making many calls.

The only fly in the ointment has been Lulu's phone which did not come with a cable (or Bluetooth). I've been completely unable to find a cable for it so we are still waiting for her photos, and the phone memory is full.

Juegos de niños

With another child's birthday approaching, I have to decide what to buy. Charlie's preferred gift would be a Nintendo DS, but at over 200 euro, it's a non-starter. Besides, we already have a free X-box for them to share, courtesy of the ADSL service we bought a couple of years back.
Charlie will get her second choice, the last in the Harry Potter series of books. This time she specified it had to be in Spanish as she reads it faster. I think all the children like the series judging from the games they play - Charlie's photo is entitled "Hermione contra Ron".

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Otro heroe muere

Although I stopped playing D&D some years ago, my son has started playing thanks to a set of books sent out by "Lawful Good of Cowplain" (even that name is derived from EGG's influence).

His game allowed my imagination to run free, allowed me to get my Chemistry degree (a story for another time) and introduced me to many friends, and indirectly to my wife.

Thanks Gary, I owe you a lot. Rest in peace.

PS: I've been reading the Troll Lord Games bulletin board, so far the Man has warranted 551 replies and over 156,000! views. The board is open at the moment for guest posting if you want to leave your condolences.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Lo que me fastidia de los españoles

"I will stay only in a country where political liberty, toleration and equality of all citizens before the law are the rule."

Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

Partido Popular take note.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

¡Anda ya!

A week ago we were invited to Seville with the company for a weekend break and dinner. Since the company was paying the hotel and dinner it would have been churlish to refuse.

Suzi celebrated by having a little crawl along the hotel bed.

The logistics of a family of six meant that we were unable to see much of Seville, but the dinner was very good and we enjoyed the lazy trip back to Casares through the countryside and mountains via Cortes de la Frontera. The town is a bit bigger than Casares, but has the same ubiquitous castle and crazy road layout - we felt quite at home.

Vamos a perder nuestro mirador

A beautiful winter sunset over the town (taken from our terrace).

This view will shortly disappear. The house opposite was bought late last year by a Madrileño, who has now demolished the house and is building a new one on its footprint.

All well and good, except that the building licence shows he's going to put a three-storey house in place of the single-storey. Even this I might not mind, but the council who gave him the licence is the very same that refused us permission to go up another storey due to the expanded family. Our house, with the extension would be lower than what is being built right opposite which will rob us of light and the magnificent views (one of the reasons we bought the house in the first place).

There are two ways of handling this: object to the building and leave a semi-finished house in the street, unpainted and unloved - not very satisfactory, or wait until his house is finished and then extend upwards ourselves (illegally as well) to get our terrace back - which would be hidden from the rest of the town anyway. Hmm...

Friday, January 25, 2008

Casares sigue todavía sin pediatra

This problem surfaced last August.

There are 400 children in Casares. For them there is only one pediatrician, who is shared with Manilva and Sabinillas (probably another 600 children).

In August last year Casares ayuntamiento phoned the Servico Andaluz de Salud (SAS) several times to complain about the lack of a pediatrician in Casares on the days he was supposed to be here. The answer was that there is no locum available for days taken as leave.

In December the pediatrician left his job and has not been replaced, leaving 1000 children with no care. The SAS maintain that cover is supplied by the normal doctor (GP). However, I can reveal that the doctor in Casares was sent a letter last year telling him he cannot treat children and that this instruction has not been cancelled.

On 9th January, the SAS admitted they were trying to address the problem. On the 10th, the health counsellor for the ayuntamiento, Pedro González wrote to the SAS oficially complaining about the lack of cover and the difficulty experienced in contacting anyone in the SAS who would either give an answer or undertaking to supply a pediatrician. On the 16th Don Pedro finally managed to speak to the SAS health director responsible by phone. The director confirmed he had replied to the letter by ordinary mail (takes about 10 days to arrive). On the 23rd the ayuntamiento called an extraordinary public meeting to discuss the problem with the residents.

I received a copy of the inviatation to this meeting the day before, the 22nd. Knowing how institutions hate publicity, I called Canal Sur television and asked if they would send a TV crew to cover the meeting. In the end, I was unable to attend due to work committments. I believe Canal Sur sent a radio reporter to cover the meeting.

Yesterday, the story started to be reported locally by the Spanish press. I am also grateful to the blogger who has also reported on this (because his town suffers the same problem).

I'm sure that the authorities are glad I'm unable to vote in either national or regional elections, because I'd be making a big stink about it. The big parties seem to be either too right wing and authoritarian (PP), or thoroughly corrupt (PSOE and probably all the rest as well). In fact I really hope that the PP doesn't get in, since they want to crack down on inconvienient truths publicised by the blogging community.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Tío Brian

Christmas and New Year have been very strange times here.

My mother-in-law's partner, always referred to as Uncle Brian died on the 23rd December. As is the Spanish way the funeral was the day after, Christams Eve. This rather put a different mood on Christmas this year. Our neighbour and Susana's godmother, Isabel was very helpful in helping to organise the funeral. She's been a pillar of strength and support for us from the day we arrived in Casares.

What shocked me in putting together this post was how far back I had to go (August 2000) in order to find a picture of Uncle Brian when he was not ill. The gradual nature of his debilitation had fooled me into thinking he'd been ill for a lot less than seven years.