West of the Town

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Old Grill

This Saturday I could see an odd-looking vehicle the other side of the square from where I live. The side flap was down at first and it in the distance it looked like it said "life savers" which in French is much like "tastes of the grill"; which is what it really said. With France still on its emergency status, and with elections 2 days away, I think the error was understandable.

I wondered if the old style of the van was a disguise.

And what is the thing on the top of the van? From my flat, it looked rather like an early form of Google camera. Close up, it turned out to be a grill vent, not life-saving spy technology.

By the time I got out and walked round it, the side flap was open for lunch. There was no mistaking its purpose now! The flag outside, and tag inside the windscreen says it is from Portugal. It's a long way from home.

Just round the corner there are stalls and market places all about the garden. Very arty but all being set up as I passed. 

It is still a state of emergency according to the government.

According to the people of France, it is business as usual.


Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Start here

In Spain, it's usual to get a little something with your drink. The hotel has gone overboard on presentation for this unrequested starter. The bottle of wine is in case my glass runs dry. 

Monday, 3 April 2017


Ok, I took a bite of this before I thought to photograph it. But it is not quite what I expect from my regular Spanish hotel.

I actually said "wow!" when it arrived. Elsa, the owner, chef, waitress, cleaner, bar tender, receptionist, accountant, looked pleased. She made the effort and got the result!

And it tasted good to.

The main part is salmon. The purply round part I am less sure about although I could see some carrot, and that red vegetable that I have had only here and for which I have no name; which were clearly part of it. It was part of the good taste.

The observant among you will notice that the size of the wine glass has not changed.

Terry Westoby

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Please to pay taxes

Some of you will know that the residents of a poor town in the Philippines were given eviction notices recently. The terms were 15 days notice and to remove "any improvements they had made on the land". This included the church build there (picture).

Now for most people, not the church, this meant being homeless; men, women, children and babies, young and old. With nowhere to go, it was devastating. As a result, the people were in fighting mood, with one octogenarian vowing to die rather than leave; and she meant it.

The town leader got involved and the history soon started to become clear. There had been 2 hearings where the land had been claimed by an "out of towner". Both failed. But then a third hearing, that no one knew about, had succeeded. The local counsellor was approached and an investigation begun.

Well some weeks later, just a few days ago from this writing, we heard the result. An official from the capital Manila came down. The claim would be contested and it would the the government that contests it. The judge who ordered the evictions was removed from office. The claimant, in view of this has dropped the claim. 

It was good to see the government standing up so strongly for those who were so poor. It is one of the good, but untold stories of the current president, so strongly maligned for being controversial, who has vowed to remove corruption from the country. The country's recent history has rulers who have shown no such concern.

And now the people will be issued with deeds to the properties they "own". It's like buying it free. And there will be, of course, with the official ownership, the appropriate property tax.

I think this time we may find people who are pleased to pay the tax!


Thursday, 2 March 2017

Bank Logic

The bank called me the other day. They were not complaining but it appears I had made life a little difficult for them.

I use the bank to make transfers and there is a small charge for this. Up to X Euro it is €4 and from X+1 Euro it is €6. Because I could not remember what the rates were, last month I had sent X+5 Euro to cover the transfer costs.

Now let's see it from the bank's angle.
  1. I sent X+5 Euro. 
  2. If they charge me €4 then they send on X+1 Euro.
  3. But X+1 Euro is a €6 charge.
  4. So if they charge me €6 they send on X-1 Euro.
  5. But X-1 Euro is a €4 charge.
  6. See 2.

It appears I gave their computer a headache.

The bank solved the problem in a very acceptable way. They manually intervened and clicked the "free transfer" option. It appeared odd at the time because I had noticed they did not charge me and I didn't know why. Now I do, but somehow I don't think it will work twice.

Next time I will send them X+4; although I don't think it is all my fault. I just wanted to be sure to cover the costs. So now I have made a note in several places of the charges.

The other part of the problem is their charging strategy; and some convoluted logic....

Monday, 13 February 2017

Fwd: Brandy? No thanks, not tonight

Brandy? No thanks. 

I decided that tonight a brandy would make it a late night. So I retired to the snug area to finish the chapter of my book, the dregs of the sangria, and my coffee; when shortly after my host appeared with 3 bottles to chose from. 

Somehow "no" had been translated into "only 3". 

Just a little one then. I selected the bottle that was already open. Clearly my host was not satisfied with the selection and opened the boxed version. 

This was made for the coronation of the King, he explained in words and gestures. It is a king's brandy. How did I get it then? I asked. But he just laughed and poured a measure into a second glass. 

It was certainly good and knocked spots off the ordinary one I had selected to be polite. So I settled down and finished my chapter, the sangria, the coffee and at last the brandy. And now it's late. 

Let's hope the brandy promotes a good nights sleep!

Terence Westoby

Fixed   +33(0)1 64 48 33 72
Mobile +33(0)6 75 91 87 71
email     terrywestoby@gmail.com

Friday, 20 January 2017


Not that snow is so exceptional in January, but this is Spain.

And it is true that there is very little on the ground. This picture is about as "thick" as it gets! I did see some small boys collecting as much as they could find. They appeared to be constructing a miniature snowman. 

Unusually the snowfall is midday. It was dry this morning, and later in the day it rained; although I noticed that the rain did have a slight "floaty" appearance as it drifted down. But that could have been the wind. 

This morning there is still a little evidence of this exceptional weather event; mostly on distant hills. And it's cold. Something the Spanish keep remarking on continually. That and "why do you wear only shirtsleeves?"  

Because I feel warm enough despite the snow. 

Ps. As I drive to Malaga the car registered temperatures in double figures. Spain is not used to the cold. "Is it as bad as this in England?" They asked, clearly expecting the answer "no". After all, it couldn't possibly be this cold anywhere else. 

Slight Spanish Snow
They tell me this is "cold!"

The photo was sideways. Sorry. I found out how to change it!