G and Grimble have a brief interlude in Blighty

¡Hasta pronto!

The best weather we had…

Flying back to Spain, Grimble considered their mercifully short UK trip. She was sat in a middle plane seat because she refused to fork out an additional 12€ to sit with her beloved G. He was sat 20 rows back, enjoying the tranquillity of 3 hours grimbleless. He had her iPad and headphones, committing Grimble to a turgid 3 hours of middle seat 2 sided neighbourly chit chat.

Grimble bore her lot patiently as she was partly to blame. She had left G to his own packing. They’d decided not to avail themselves of priority boarding or luggage. Two days of life was in two rucksacks. G had successfully packed underwear, T shirts, his iPad, a sweater and a jacket. Grimble had packed similar, minus any woollens or coats. It was bloody June after all! She’d downloaded Killing Eve series 2 and was ready for her 3 hours of solo travel.

At the airport, G declared his lack of headphones and nothing to watch. He looked forlorn and that expression always brought out the sense of sacrifice in Grimble. Soon a contented G was armed with her headphones and IPad. In his defence, as Grimble shivered on the cold, wet, dismal train platform in Cambridge, he did offer to share his coat or sweater. This was how grown up relationships worked. Clearly, he would have had to remove them from his warm body first.

They were sat apart and going home. G was on episode 6 and on threat of torture were he to reveal any spoilers. The conclusion on the UK? It was fucking expensive and fucking cold.

Size matters

They paid £3 for olives they expected to get for free. Their meals were tasty enough but Grimble had to wonder how diminutive a Breton chicken actually was when she received what the restaurant claimed to be half of one. Even with a voucher for a free bottle of wine in a French restaurant chain, they still parted with £50. It was lucky that the wine was free as the price ranged from £5 to £8 and you had to decide how much you wanted in your glass before they’d even pour it. Weights and bloody measures. A country confined by wine size regulations.

They’d passed by a Spanish restaurant with a Menu del Dia costing £14.50. At the shock of this, Grimble had taken to social media with a photo. Her Spanish friends did not know where to start with their chagrin. The price, the starter of 1 solitary croqueta, spelt incorrectly or offering breakfast food of churros and chocolate as a desert. It was an offence on every level. It was the equivalent of a restaurant in Spain offering a roast dinner, minus gravy and serving porridge as pudding.

Menu Del Rip Off!

Beggars belief

Aggressive begging was rife. In Spain, a beggar might quietly approach a table and request a cigarette. In Seville, she’d been cursed by a gypsy for declining to purchase a dried up piece of rosemary. However, in UK, the begging did beggar all belief. It was a menacing demand for money from characters who were evidently going to use it to inject or drink themselves into oblivion. Naturally, G and Grimble didn’t really want to part with their cash for this purpose. When they politely said no, the beggar’s response was a brutal tirade of abuse and expletives. It was all rather unpleasant and Grimble sadly noted that a significant number of people parted with various coinage to avoid this confrontation.

Grimble missed very little. The weather was shit, the lifestyle expensive and the amount of people rushing around, ridiculous. Maybe G and Grimble viewed their Spanish world through tinto de verano glasses but she was glad that they did.

G and Grimble holiday on holiday

Ok, so it wasn’t strictly true that G and Grimble were on permanent holiday. It was hard to believe this was real life though. Morning coffee was taken on a terrace overlooking the hills and sea. Lunch was enjoyed as they peacefully viewed a hilltop fort and Buddhist Stupa. Writing blogs took place by the pool. This was the location of every holiday they’d ever had, but now it was real life. It was theirs and, whilst they knew they’d worked for this reality, they did keep pinching themselves. Well, G kept pinching an irritable Grimble.

The travel bug

Grimble still had an urge to travel. Her first tentative travel inquiries had been in late March around G’s birthday. She had asked him how he’d like to spend the celebration moment. Her suggestion had been a short flight to Ibiza, Tenerife or Mallorca and to spend a few days at the beach.

G looked perplexed. He failed to understand why he needed to take a flight to travel to a location that was incredibly similar to where he now resided. The option of travelling somewhere cold was not one Grimble was going to entertain. If she wanted to travel, she’d have to prepare a far cleverer plan.

Finally, Grimble decided they should take a mini break. In fact, her new plan was to spend a night away each month, at a yet to be decided location, within a 2 hours drive away. G thought that this was a splendid idea. They looked at a map online and discussed several options. In the end, they settled on Granada, 90 minutes from home.

Grimbling in Granada

This would be G’s first trip there. They decided not to do the traditional tourist thing. So, no Alhambra, no interior of the Cathedral and a time limit walking through the heavily overpriced market. Instead, they would soak up the atmosphere, doing what they did best, sitting in cafes and bars. Of course, Granada had a great advantage: bars feed you tapas for free. Every drink was delivered with some pretty palatable plates to share.

Their hotel was a sheer joy. The Albadia, a 15th century courtyard home, looked like nothing from the street but was awash with character and flowers within. Plus, it had secure and cheap car parking. It was located in the University area which is where they decided to spend the evening. There seemed little point strolling to bars thronged with tourists when they had great opportunities on the doorstep. Grimble liked to go native whenever she could. This location offered that opportunity.

The discovery of the night was the bar/hostel Lemon Rock. It was funkily decorated with kitsch, metal and art. Plus, it had great wine and a blues style singer. They enjoyed a few decent glasses of red served with awesome tapas and soaked up the vibe.

Exercise and wine. Winning in Granada

G was really taken by Granada. Grimble had only presented him with two shops: a flying visit to a dress shop and a vintage clothing shop, where he’d bought a classic Hawaiian shirt. They were eager to extend their stay another night but there was no room at the Abadia.

Where next?

This left them in a bit of a quandary. They wanted to prolong their break but not travel much further afield. It was either the mountains or the coast. The coast won with a great special offer on an all inclusive hotel by the beach. There was a sense of trepidation but, what the hell! They were still out of season, so surely it couldn’t be so bad?

Spanish bureaucracy: can’t be beaten

They now been in Spain for just over 3 months. It definitely felt like home. They’d taken on the Spanish bureaucracy challenge. So far, so good.

In need of a NIE

G’s NIE was applied for and received within a week of arrival. Grimble already hers, sort of though, carelessly, she’d lost the official documentation. The NIE was more than just a number. It was evidence of existence. Without it, you couldn’t even purchase a SIM card for the phone. Grimble had the number just not the paper. In a country where paperwork had more bearing on life than the Catholic Church this could present issues.

Perplexed by the padron

The Padron from the town hall in Canillas was paperwork challenge number two. Canillas was their district. Why wouldn’t it be? It was further away than the town halls of Viñuela, Velez Malaga or Alcaucin and up a monster hill. It stood to reason it would be here. The Padron was the equivalent of the electoral roll. Being listed allowed the town hall to apply for additional funds for the ever increasing population. That seemed advantageous for all and should have been straightforward.

In the pouring, torrential rain, armed with a poly pocket of all the paperwork they possessed , they arrived at the town hall. The woman behind the desk immediately tried to thwart their plans. She claimed they needed their landlady (currently working in China) with them. Grimble stood fast to no avail. She’d checked the government website. Not that the official rules and regulations actually necessarily applied in small town Andalucia.

Social media everywhere

She stormed out to the local cafe, where G and Grimble had a restorative coffee. Deftly, Grimble commenced a social media Spanish dialogue with Canillas town hall.

The faceless Messenger discussion tried to back up the receptionist. Grimble was having none of it. She wasn’t descending that cunting hill, now akin to a waterfall, without the sodding Padron. She stood her ground, despite the evident language barrier and mentioned Madrid, official forms, the fact that they were still EU citizens. There was a brief Andalucian digression on the subject of work opportunities in China and they were told to return to reception.

Back at the town hall, the receptionist acted like she’d never seen them before. She took all their paperwork and processed the Padron with a smile.

Donde?

The only remaining dispute was which area Grimble had lived In Sevilla, previously. Despite a photocopy of the lost documents clearly stating Alameda and Grimble confirming it, the woman denied any such location existed. The only Alameda was in Malaga, no other existed. Grimble realised it was futile to argue further even though the Sevilla Alameda was known throughout Europe as party central Andalucia and succumbed to the receptionist’s greater wisdom on the barrios of Andalusian cities.

She claimed the town hall would email them when they could collect the papers but Grimble knew this was falsehood. Two weeks later, she used Messenger again and was told of course the forms were ready.

Overall, the official documents had been less onerous than anticipated. Grimble still had to get a new residencia card with a new address. However, even a trip to the police station to do a denuncia, denouncing herself and her stupidity losing vital documents, had been mercifully swift. Her date to meet officials to reissue the papers had been set.
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G and Grimble experience all inclusive…almost

In many ways, an all inclusive deal was an anathema to Grimble.

It was a surprise to travel 45 minutes from Granada, through the stunning Sierra Nevada, to the coast near Almuñécar for an all inclusive experience.

We have no cossies!

Grimble has checked the facilities at the resort and the pool seemed to be quite a draw. Having planned for a one night city break, G and Grimble had not packed their swimwear.

G didn’t really see the issue. Grimble was adamant. Without swimwear, their all inclusive experience would be incomplete. She suggested a detour to the Nevada shopping mall. G suspected that the extra night was a ruse to get him to call off at the shopping mall.

Heading to Nevada

They arrived early at Nevada with only the cafes open. This had been the plan. She knew that a fed G would have shopping mall stamina.

They made a pledge not to be diverted but to focus on the need for swimwear. A one stop shop: Primark, Spain. Given all inclusive check in was 2pm, with a bit of wiggle room, this gave them 3 hours there.

G had a love:hate relationship with the big P. He accepted it was the cheapest place to purchase decent shorts and disposable T shirts. He refused to carry their bags though, meaning Grimble trailed behind him with a large, self destruct paper bag in tow. It was a small price to pay in Grimble’s opinion.

Grimble knew Primark hangers rarely displayed the correct product or size.

Labelling meant nothing. Extra large could be anywhere from size 20 to 6. The trick was to look at the item and to brave the changing room queue.

After 2 hours, they were done. They were well within schedule and battling with a large paper bag, they departed the store and mall.

Not quite all inclusive

They pulled up outside the massive Bahia Palace Resort which overshadowed the tiny cove. The parking garage was not part of the all inclusive deal, so Grimble checked them in and agreed to the extra 9€.

At reception, there was a number of additions to the all inclusive deal: drinks packages, WiFi charges, spa access. Perhaps this wasn’t going to be quite the bargain. They had their lunch included but service ended at 3pm. Check in was from 2pm which left them an hour to park, find their room and freshen up.

The room was not quite what Grimble believed she had booked. It was minus a balcony. She insisted that they lug all their possessions back to reception so she could argue. This made their lunch time challenge more dramatic. Reception suddenly turned Andalusian ignoring any attempt at dispute. The receptionist encouraged them to go for lunch as they were against the ticking clock.

They agreed. The food was adequate and, at 2.20pm, still plentiful. Drinks were costly: 2€ for a 30c bottle of water and 2.50€ for the smallest shandy ever. Over lunch, they decided that room protest was futile. It would waste time for no result. They had to accept that as overnighters they were not worthy of a balcony or terrace.

All inclusive plus

Grimble tried to purchase a drinks package. 7.50€ for a bottle of wine and 2 waters but these drinks were for the room only. She decided that buying a cheap red to drink in a balcony less room was too sad to contemplate. Instead she placed the 20€ deposit for 2 beach towels which, given their tatty state, she should have been paid to dispose of.

Returning to the room, G was already in the depth of siesta. This negated his need to purchase swimwear. Leaving his towel behind, she set off to locate the adult only sun terrace. This tiny terrace was packed with people trying to avoid, like the plague, anything under the age of 14. Given that the only guests they’d seen arrive were 2 Saga coach parties this seemed quite futile.

Grimble looked longingly from the noisy adult terrace to the deserted beach and the Chirunguito were the sea lapped the tables. Her need to escape was overwhelming. She decided G and her would avail themselves of a sunset by the beach. She was financially savvy enough to know they’d need to be back in time for their inclusive dinner buffet.

Let the evening entertainment begin

With a nice wine buzz of 2 glasses of decent red at a palatable 2€ and a stunning view, they again entered the all inclusive world. The food, whilst different, was very much the same. Grimble wondered how anyone coped with this level of predictability for more than a couple of nights.

Attracted to a glitter ball in the aptly named Ingles Bar, they decided to chance entertainment. They didn’t expect it to be banging given the age profile of the guests. But they hoped for something half decent.

On stage, a solitary man was playing a key board which made every tune sound like 1970s europop. By his side were 2 saxophones. He interspersed his painful singing key board set with instrumentals. These were marginally less offensive as he couldn’t sing and play sax. G and Grimble usually played guess that tune but these renditions were indecipherable.

There was shuffling from the seats. A few elderly folk occupied the floor. The scene was a mix between a zombie invasion, One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest and an OAP home. They decided it was all too much and departed. Their good night’s sleep was only disturbed by snoring. For once it wasn’t their own, but the room next door.

A hasty retreat

The plan had been to poolside until the 12pm departure but, after their third buffet in 24 hours, they just wanted to leave. Grimble hesitantly suggested Almuñécar weekly market and G was so relieved to escape the rigidity of the all inclusive he readily agreed. They settled their additional bill and drove off, leaving their time warped all inclusive to memory.

G and Grimble begin a Mediterranean diet and life

Wine and a cortijo

After the ferry crossing from hell, began the new life from heaven. This could be taken quite literally as the Grimble’s Spanish cortijo was located quite high up a dusty path. From 2 of their 4 terraces, the sea was just visible. Each terrace was in the process of being named. Grimble’s current location was the Tiki Tiki terrace or was it the Beach Terrace: the names had yet to be settled and their christening toasted with wine.

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There had been wine. Naturally, as this was Spain and, if Grimble’s memory served her well (though retirement was putting a strain on it), red wine was an essential on the Mediterranean diet. They had contemplated retaining Keto. Then, one of their elderly Spanish neighbours presented them with a large bag of fresh oranges. Grimble spied the juicer. She immediately decided fuck this lack of vitamin C shit, and juiced away. It had served its purpose. A dress size was lost along with her tits. It was now time to modify.

Salad season

The visit to The supermarkets had presented many new delights. It was salad season. To be fair, it was always salad season. As the area was near to a relatively large ex pat community, in between the display of lettuce and cucumber were Brussels sprouts. Clearly, the Spanish had confused beansprouts with Brussels when scheduling their location. The price relegated this UK farting delicacy to memory. At this point, their diet had become a hybrid of Keto, Paleo and Mediterranean. However, the addition of a very long 12 portion Viennetta ice cream block meant that Grimble renamed their diet: the one meal a day diet.

The wine aisle was like a bargain sweet store for adults. The prices were terrifyingly cheap. They had 2 wine racks that needed something as they looked so forlorn empty. The easiest way to select was to decide a budget and an attractive label. No single bottle was going above 4€. However, where the 70% discount applied to the purchase of a second, there were some encouraging purchases. Their starting budget was a flexible 3€. They did basket 2€ and 2.50€ bottle just to sample with the view that Grimble could always cook with it. As a litre box of cooking Vino tinto was only 99c, this was a bit counter productive.

Their Mediterranean, one meal a day, Paleo diet was working well. They ate their main meals at the relevant Spanish times of 3pm and then a light snack around 10pm. The glasses of wine were largely quaffable though anything less than 3€ was consigned to stock making. The label of Little Red Riding Hood should have been a sign, that just like the wolf in granny’s clothes, the bottle’s contents were not as good as they promised.

 

Mi barrio

They now lived deep within the Spanish community. Theirs was the final house in a hamlet of about 20 homes. Some seemed habitable, some not. However, it was often difficult to discern which was which. The tranquility was breathtaking. In a morning, it was just birds and a fucking annoying cockerel that broke the peace. Oh and their pool filter pump too, regular at 8am, but that was clearly a first world problem. They were in the midst of farms of avocado, olives, mangoes, lemons and oranges.

Jose and Alba, Spanish neighbours, had helped the Grimble’s get the property. Evidently, they’d told the neighbourhood of the arrival of Guiris. They all shyly waved or vaguely nodded as the Grimbles drove their RHD down the steep single file path hoping for no oncoming vehicle. Leonardo, Jose’s dad was uncertain of how to greet Guiris and there was a confused moment when he and Grimble both went in for the double kiss at an awkward angle. On Sunday afternoon, all the families gathered together for a traditional lunch. It was no surprise for the Grimble’s to find a deputation of about 10 Spanish children from about 5 to 13 years old, standing underneath their terrace to observe the new Guiris. And when they drove their car out, the same deputation lined the path to wave at them.

Tranquility

There was something magical here and it wasn’t the cheap red wine or the superbly fast internet. It was a sense of all pressure being gone and the Grimbles loved it.

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Grimble & G’s really big adventure!

At last

They’d only gone and done it! They’d left Blighty behind, 3 weeks before the deadline of one of the biggest political changes of their lifetime. Not that this had anything to do with their decision to leave. Their decision had been to leave UK to join Europe. No votes, referendums, meetings required. Just an overwhelming certainty that there was a better life awaiting them in Spain.

As Grimble rocked like a deranged person on her Brittany Ferry cabin bed, she reflected on their last few months. Well, actually, she was attempting not to think about just how fucking choppy the sea was. This ferry, a mere 16 hours late due to inclement conditions, had wildly tossed G and Grimble throughout the night. At one point, when G emerged from the loo, his body movement was akin to flying such was the surge and sway. A naked G missile was not something Grimble expected or needed as her tummy churned like a washing machine.

Their worldly possessions has departed for Spain just after Christmas. Though looking at their car, it seemed that they had possessed themselves of a second set. With an SUV rammed with goodies: patio table and chairs, footstool, cases packed with smaller sized clothes and cushion covers, they had embarked on the crossing from hell. The one night onboard had mutated into two. It was now mid afternoon, 17 hours in and the storm was unrelenting. There was no way that this could ever be conceived as a mini cruise. They’d confined themselves to the cabin.

On the plus, Grimble’s KETO diet was going swimmingly. More due to the fact that she had imposed a nil by mouth fast as to eat anything required leaving the relative safety of her bunk. In addition, she realised that her stomach was not going to readily digest anything she ate and barfing onboard was something she really wanted to avoid.

Bye bye Blighty…

The last few months had seen a few changes in their preparation for departure. The beloved boat had been sold. Thus removing the last possession tie with the land of their birth. Grimble had held a fanciful notion of holidays on the river in the basking British sunshine. However, G had earthed those dreams by pointing out last summer’s sunshine was a fluke and paying a year’s mooring fee, insurance and license for two weeks’ of rainy UK misery wasn’t really a plan. Especially, when they had a sunny villa in Spain to relax in. The boat had been an awesome and spectacular way to enjoy life but it’s time was over. Now, as this ship went into roller coaster mode once more, Grimble felt that her time with things nautical was done.

Dog sitting. This is how Grimble and G had spent the last two months. On paper, another excellent idea. They had lived rent free whilst tending to a pug and Labrador: an incongruous dog partnership for sure. They’d never done anything like this before and probably would never do it again. Well, if there was a next time, Grimble would be sure to ask more probing questions.

As it was, the dog sit was more a decoy to allow the owners to continue their rather lucrative Airbnb business in several reformed barns whilst sunning themselves on a Caribbean beach for two months. The idea was presented as simple enough. Just putting the keys in the four barn doors. What they failed to mention was that paying guests are demanding. Hence, each weekend was punctuated with a series of WhatsApp messages from guests to the Caribbean to G and Grimble in the house next to the Airbnbs for different towels, more heat, no oven working, smoke alarm pinging. It became abundantly clear, that G and Grimble were actually managing the business for free, whilst the owners sunned themselves. At £125 a night per unit, it didn’t require a Maths degree to work out why they were on endless rum punches for two months.

Never trust a pug

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Of course, the loving nature of man’s best friend might have compensated for this outrageous use of G and Grimble’s time for nothing. Sadly, this was not the case. Hindsight is wisdom. Clearly, the question should have been asked as to why any dog loving owner could leave their treasures for 2 months with strangers. G and Grimble did get a rent free stay in a 17th farmhouse with no insulation in the depths of winter. The owners got no kennel bills and basked in the Caribbean sunshine. They were canny buggers. They’d even set the heating to a paltry hour a day (soon changed). Like any family with absent key members, the dogs were dysfunctional.

The Labrador was a majestic 18 years old. It had been explained that this right old age had given way to incontinence issues. G and Grimble felt sympathy with this grand dame of the dog world. However, the owners failed to mention that the pug also shitted at will because she was simply an untrained little fat fucker. She had this horrible knack of both eating and shitting simultaneously. After several fraught days, the only solution, given the folds of skin around her overly chubby face meant rubbing her nose in it was not an option, was to place her and bowl in the garden. She still synchronised her shit with troughing but it was marginally less offensive on grass than the kitchen floor.

Not once did the owners ask after the welfare of their dogs. Their act of concern was to dig the Labrador’s grave at the back of the garden before they left. Wickedly, Grimble thought there was more chance of the fat shitting pug being in there when they returned. Unfortunately, and unexpectedly, G and Grimble had to leave just two short hours before the owners arrived back having cleared the last bit of pug poo from the doorstep. The owners had hoped that they’d been back in late autumn to dog sit for another couple of months. Sitting two shitting dogs and managing an Airbnb for nowt or sitting on their terrace in the warm Spanish sun: tough choice.

Thus with half a day of stormy sailing before Spain, the UK ties that mattered: friends were kept and the others were cut forever. Given their age, this was likely to be G and Grimble’s final big adventure and they were determined that it was going to be the best.

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Grimble & G go KETO: part 1

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Keto moussaka

 

Ever increasing bellies

For some months, Grimble and G had not been feeling the body beautiful. They could make all the excuses they liked: middle aged spread, slower metabolism, the vagaries of clothes shop sizes. The truth was they were getting fatter. They snacked too readily on crap.

Grimble claimed she didn’t eat that many Maltesers. She was sure that WW even had them on a snack list. The truth was that WW may have listed them but Grimble liked the boxes: well the contents held within. This was as much because a £1 box seemed a better deal that an 80p packet. 3 boxes a week later and even her 10000 steps a day could not rectify the damage.

G was a secret snacker. He would fridge raid and scurry the plated spoils to his man cave. Grimble would often find a empty plate with miscellaneous residue. Once she even found a square of chocolate at the foot of the bed. It was difficult to determine both how long it had been there and how it had ended up positioned at the bed end.
It had to stop…

Hair cuts and diets

A trip to the hairdresser, The Pamper Rooms was about to change their attitude to food. Something called KETO was mentioned and it wasn’t a hair product. Basically, KETO was Atkins. ..on steroids. Carb free except for those in vegetables. Sugars gone. Including those in fruit: Nature’s evil sweet shop. Processed food? Never ever: the victuals of the devil.

After the hair cuts, the Grimbles’ sat in their local pizzeria and contemplated this diet. Their carb heavy dinner suddenly morphed into a last supper. They were going KETO. It was December. The run up to Christmas. When better to avoid snacks, chocolates and heavy drinking than the season of ultimate gorging?

Their target date for slimmer, streamlined bodies: March 5th. Their departure to Spain and the start of a lifetime of Mediterranean diet. They’d always convinced themselves that Spain would make them thin. Now Grimble and G were going to give Spain a fighting chance.

Let’s feng shu the shit out of this

Grimble edited her online Christmas shop with a the commitment of a zealot. She axed mince pies, stuffing, trifle and roasties. She felt thinner already. She added an inordinate amount of pigs in blankets, green veg, steak and cheese. Double cream replaced milk. This diet was insane. More fat equalled less fat.

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Keto poached egg with cheese sauce

Gin was fine. Fever tree was not. Thus it was poured down the sink and replaced with elderflower sparkling water. This tasted so good. Baileys also met a sink end. Grimble decided to concoct her own. Jamesons, double cream, keto friendly cacao and expresso and she was an expert. Using the emptied bottles, her KETO cream liqueur enterprise had begun. Sometimes, she just avoided the work and went straight to Jamesons. Which luckily enough was KETO friendly.

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Keto seafood starter

It was a this time, that the Grimbles were about to move. Packing commenced in earnest. Grimble looked at the dangers in her cupboards. They were filled with hidden carbs and sugars. Ruthlessly, she emptied them.

She made two trips to food banks but always felt she was offering poor people crappy killer food options. It sat uneasy in her head. Waste the food or feed poorer people shit: tough call.
Lardy arse or little arse?

Pounds and inches

The curse of radical diets is that fat goes from the oddest of places. Grimble wasn’t sure if it was an illusion but her tits seemed less pronounced. Her ring swivelled on her finger and her arse was reduced. The belly sadly wasn’t joining the party as yet.

A trip to Debenhams confirmed a non surgical boob reduction from 36 to 34 in 3 weeks. No point buying a new bra as by this rate, Grimble was going to reach prepubescent bust size by March. It was difficult to decide whether this was good or bad.

Telling G that he really did need to pull up his PJ bums or risk exposure was another sign. However, scales remained a contradiction. Whilst Grimble was fitting in clothes she had despaired of ever wearing again, the scales showed a desultory few pounds loss.

Scales were not something Grimble liked in the house. They were fickle, unreliable and soul destroying in their inaccuracies. Nevertheless, despite Grimble returning one set as they made her lose an advantageous 6lbs…in 30 minutes, G managed to secrete a new set into the house. He liked numbers. She liked clothes fitting.

Whichever way they judged, initial indications were definitely encouraging.

Location: locating: located

Location

They were half way through their holiday. Grimble was pleased. Bags for men had been bought. G had become the proud owner of two from one market visit.

This purchase had not been without some issues. After their trip to the shopping centre and market, there had been an impasse of sorts. This was not due to G being truculent or diffident. It was due to their remote location: Comares.

Comares was stunning. It was originally an Arabic hilltop fort. It’s white village outline could be seen for miles…and miles. In fact, it was approximately a mile and a half in the air. They had observed its stellar height on their first day when Satnav lady was desperate to journey them down some dirt track, seeming in the opposite direction to this lofty hilltop village. Perhaps this was because she was all too aware of the journey to follow.

They travelled the winding, bending, tortuous road ever upwards. They noted the lack of crash barrier at prime hairpin bends and their ears popped. As they arrived at their holiday rental, they felt dizzy from the thinness of the air. Comares could not be denied it’s status as a hilltop fortress. After this hill was sky. There was no other way back than down the treacherous death defying road.

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Comares…on a big hill

As a result, all road trips had to be evaluated against a day lazing by the pool. Often the pool won outright, without discussion. Any trip taken had to be of value. There was no purposeless ambling from Comares. They might decide to stagger uphill on foot to the square for a coffee, beer or flamenco night. They would not use the car without good reason.

Locating.

G had set his sights on purchasing bags at Torre del Mar Thursday market which luckily coincided with a trip to Sevilla. Their planned trip to Sevilla was no less barking mad as leaving Comares, with it’s recent August temperature of 47. However, they were not planning to stay in Sevilla. The sole purpose was to collect their amiga, the Emster. Charitably they were releasing her from the hellish Sevillian heat for a week of Comares mountain retreat.

After several hours of morning phaffing and dawdling, they left Comares at 11.30. Grimble knew this was not a good time as they would hit Torre at prime beach and shopping hour, just prior to siesta. Grimble, ever knowledgeable about the vagaries of Spanish life, was not far wrong. There was no where to park despite circling the town several times. Huge 4×4 crammed themselves into spaces where a Fiat 500 would have struggled to negotiate. They could almost smell the scent of leather man bags, they were so close. But, finally, it was not to be.

With limited options available, they decided to quit the seaside and depart immediately for the frying pan of Europe. The motorway journey was uneventful, hot and deserted. This was the joy of travelling at siesta. They briefly discussed a short detour at the Sevilla Airport Outlet Mall. But, as the temperature rose steadily through the 30s and into the low 40s, they swiftly dismissed this ridiculous suggestion.

In theory, they were going to bundle the Emster into the car and drive straight out of Sevilla. It might be a beautiful city at other times off the year but in August it was the epitome of a living hell. However, the Emster was not to be rushed or, usually, even ready. After more than a decade in Spain, she had mastered the slow, steady pace of life that meant nothing was hurried. She had fond farewells to say to her mad dog and evil bird before leaving. Plus she still had to finalise packing, eat lunch and double checking her travel arrangements.

By 6pm, they were finally on their way. Making sure that every journey counted, they called off at the large Torre del Mar supermarket for essentials: milk, eggs, chocolate milk, crab sticks, cava and various other irrelevant items. It was dark when they ascended the steep path to Comares. It was hard to say if this was better or worse. It was simply dark and dangerous.

Located

Planning the purchase of a man bag with other pursuits was not easy. Grimble and G had forsaken shopping trips as they were desperately trying to avoid clutter. They wanted to go on a pedalo on Lake Viñuela not shop til they dropped. This was a great way to spend two hours, pedalling for ten minutes and spending the remaining time jumping off the pedalo and safely floating in a life jacket. It hadn’t required a great deal of exertion. All thoughts of man bags were easily forgotten as they floated aimlessly around the still lake waters.

Again utilising the car away from Comares scenario, they visited a supermarket to replenish cava, which seemed to evaporate in the altitude, buy ice pops and cheese.

Their next trip was Torre to join a group heading to the Malaga Feria. This was an overnighter. They departed Torre at 1pm, in theory, though this was a Spanish trip. The coach finally pulled out 30 minutes late. They left Malaga nine hours later. With G still awaiting his ideal man bag, Grimble found herself laden with an awful lot of stuff to cover a protracted adventure. She muttered and cussed to no avail. She also advised that this would be the last such packing of her bag.

Malaga Feria was fun, busy and sweaty. They were able to drink for free as each caseta enticed them in with free beer, tinto verano and paella. Their group was formed from a salsa bar and they were not afraid to take over any caseta and dance salsa to any music. Despite one dance looking suspiciously like the Hokey Cokey, they were rewarded with tequila shots and lots of applause. By 5pm they were half cut. By 7pm, they were hungry and flagging. At 9pm, G, Emster and Grimble had forsaken the others and were drinking strong coffee outside of the Feria.

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Community dancing

The trip back should have been quiet given the exhaustion. However, this was Spain and the return was far from silent. Shouting Spanish ladies conducted full conversations from one end of the coach to the other with barely time to breathe. Staggering through fatigue and tentinitous, they made their way to the B and B and bed.

The next day, there was a halfhearted attempt to buy a man bag. G adorned himself with a decent leather bag, slung gamely over his shoulder but he was too tired to commit. They left Torre vowing to return on Thursday for the market. The market which had become like a holy shrine for all things man bag. It was as if this was the only place a man bag of quality could be found.

And that’s what happened. They set off earlier. They found parking. Within the hour, and after a coffee, two bags were bartered for and bought. One brown leather, the other black. They each had a variety of flaps and pockets.

There was one disconcerting moment when Grimble seemed to be carrying her bag and the carrier bag containing G’s bags. However, another café and coffee later, G’s bag was filled most of his items. Grimble would continue to find odd bits here and there for the next few days. He carried it like a man. Well like a British man. Which meant that there was some self conscious moments, a little grumbling and a defiance that stated that neither bag would be used or even seen in Blighty.

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Man bags take up residence

In the intervening days, the bags had a chequered life. G filled them with stuff then decided that he wasn’t taking a bag. This resulted his items of importance, namely toothpicks and tissues, being left behind. Grimble grittily held her position. She would not refill her own bag with G’s clutter. It was a war of attrition. Bag training was even more complex than puppy training, it seemed.