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Issue 31 - June 2009

WE ARE THE ONLY ENGLISH PUBLICATION WHO DELIVER TO THE WHOLE COSTA TROPICAL COAST AND INLAND LA HERRADURA, ALMUÑÉCAR, SALOBREÑA, VELÉZ

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BENAUDALLA, ORGIVA, TORVISCON, MOTRIL, CASTELL

TORRENUEVA, GUALCHOS, CASERONES, LA MAMOLA, LA RABITA, CADIÁR, ALBONDÓN, ALBUÑOL AND MORE...

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FERRO,


Contents

JUNE 2009

4 LIGHTER SIDE The

Best Humour in one place 8 ALL WOMAN All you need to know about sunglasses

1 3 RECIPES New quick and easy recipes - Curry pork burgers and chunky monkey milkshake

14 BUSINESS NEWS News and information from the local Costa Tropical business community

18 ANIMALS & PETS Pet Issues

20 PUZZLED Crosswords and puzzles. 22 A LETTER Letter from the Southern Hemisphere. Views and opinions from Latin America

26 HEALTH MATTERS Risks of chemical cocktails and Is man flu

32 GADGETS & GIZMOS The

real?

wildest, wackiest and probably the

most useless gadgets around

36 AUTONOMOUS A trip around Spain and the autonomous communities

40 THE COMPASS More musings on life from Leslie Thomas

42 MIXING HISTORY Friesland or Don Pedro 46 SHORT HUMOUR The Olympian...

www.costatropicalnews.com Editor :- Simon Batchelor

To Advertise Call -

Regular Contributors :-

Mobile 620 676 843 - Office 958 069 058

Peter Webb - Swan Morrison

info@costatropicalnews.com

Gwen Boswell - Leslie Thomas

Deposito Legal B - 51548 - 2006

B. I. Shenman

Design & Pre-Print Production by Bad Attitude Designs

The publisher is unable to accept responsibility for the content and/or claims of advertisements or advertisers shown within and the views expressed are not necessarily the views of the publisher. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written permission from the publisher

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Michael Jackson and the doctor are walking out of the delivery room after his wife gives birth to their son. Michael says: “How long before we can have sex?” The doctor says: “At least wait until he’s walking!” § Three women were sitting around throwing back a few drinks and talking about their love lives. One woman said: “I call my husband the dentist. Nobody can drill like he does.” The second woman giggled and confessed: “I call my husband the miner because of his incredible shaft.” The third woman quietly sipped her whiskey until her friend asked: “Say, what do you call your husband?” She frowned and said: “The postman.” “Why the postman?” “Because he always delivers late, and half the time it’s in the wrong box.” §

A man staggers into a hospital with concussion, Multiple bruises, two black eyes and a 5 iron wrapped tightly around his throat.

grunts: “Tree.”

The doctor asked “What happened to you?”

They walk a little farther and the padre points to a rock and says: “This is a rock.”

“Well I was playing Golf with my wife when we sliced our golf balls into a field of cows. I found one stuck in a cows vagina, I yelled to my wife ‘this looks like yours’, I don’t remember much after that ...” § An old woman is riding in an elevator in a very lavish building when a young, beautiful woman gets into the elevator, smelling of expensive perfume. She turns to the old woman and says arrogantly, “Romance” by Ralph Lauren, €150 an ounce!” Then another young and beautiful woman gets on the elevator, and also very arrogantly turns to the old woman saying, “Chanel No. 5, €200 an ounce!” About three floors later, the old woman has reached her destination and is about to get off the elevator. Before she leaves, she looks both beautiful women in the eye, then bends over, farts and says, “Cauliflower - 49 cents a kilo!” § A missionary who had spent years showing a tribe of natives how to farm and build things to be self sufficient gets word that he is to return home. He realizes that the one thing he never taught the natives was how to speak English, so he takes the chief and starts walking in the forest. He points to a tree and says to the chief: “This is a tree.” The chief looks at the tree and 4

The missionary is pleased with the response.

Hearing this, the chief looks and grunts: “Rock.” The padre is really getting enthusiastic about the results when he hears a rustling in the bushes. As he peeks over the top, he sees a couple in the midst of heavy romantic activity. The padre is really flustered and quickly responds: “Riding a bike.” The chief looks at the couple briefly, pulls out his blow gun and kills them! The padre goes ballistic and yells at the chief that he has spent years teaching the tribe how to be civilized and kind to each other! How could he just kill these people in cold blood that way? The chief replied: “My bike.” § There once was a bear and a rabbit and they hated each other. The bear and rabbit then stumbled upon a magical talking tree. The tree said: “I will grant you 3 wishes a piece if you will stop fighting!” So the bear went first. “I wish all the bears in the forest are females.” And all the bears in the forest turned into females. The rabbit said: “I wish I had a helmet.” Rabbit gets the helmet and the bear looks at him funny. The bear wishes: “I wish all the bears in the country are females.” The wish was granted.


ONE LINERS We always hold hands. If I let go, she shops How do you get a man to do sit-ups? Put the remote control between his toes.

The rabbit says, “I wish I have a says the woman, “He’s peeing in motorcycle.” By this point the bear the refrigerator again.” thinks the rabbit is the stupidest thing he’s ever seen. The rabbit § could wish for money and have all “Doctor,” the embarrassed man the motorcycles in the world. said, “I have a sexual problem. I The bear says: “I wish all the bears can’t get it up for my wife anyin the world are female.” The wish more. is granted. “Mr. Thomas, bring her back with When it’s the rabbit’s turn to wish, you tomorrow and let me see what he puts on his helmet, gets on his I can do.” motorcycle, and says: “I wish that The next day, the worried fellow bear was gay.” returned with his wife. “Take off your clothes, Mrs. Thomas,” the § medic said. “Now turn all the way An elderly couple go to their doc- around. Lie down please. Uh-huh, tor for a checkup. The man goes in I see. Okay, you may put your first. “How’re you doing?” asks the clothes back on.” doctor. “Pretty good,” answers the old man. “I’m eating well, and I’m The doctor took the husband still in control of my bowels and aside. “You’re in perfect health,” he bladder. In fact, when I get up at said. “Your wife didn’t give me an night to pee, the good Lord turns erection either.” the light on for me.” § The doctor decides not to comment on that last statement, and Bob works hard and spends most goes into the next room to check evenings bowling or playing bason the man’s wife. “How’re you ketball at the gym. His wife thinks feeling?” he asks. “I’m doing well,” he is pushing himself too hard, so answers the old woman. “I still have for his birthday she takes him to a lots of energy and I’m not feeling local strip club. any pain.” The doctor says, “That’s nice. It sounds like you and your The doorman at the club greets them and says, “Hey, Bob! How ya husband are both doing well. doin?” His wife is puzzled and asks One thing though - your husband if he’s been to this club before. “Oh said that when he gets up to pee no,” says Bob. “He’s on my bowling at night, the good Lord turns the team.” light on for him. Do you have any idea what he means?” “Oh No,” When they are seated, a waitress 5

asks Bob if he’d like his usual and brings over a Budweiser. His wife is becoming increasingly uncomfortable and says, “How did she know that you drink Budweiser?” “She’s in the Ladies’ Bowling League, honey. We share lanes with them.” A stripper then comes over to their table, throws her arms around Bob and starts to rub herself all over him and says, “Hi Bobbie. Want your usual table dance, big boy?” Bob’s wife, now furious, grabs her purse and storms out of the club. Bob follows and spots her getting into a cab. Before she can slam the door, he jumps in beside her. Bob tries desperately to explain how the stripper must have mistaken him for someone else, but his wife is having none of it. She is screaming at him at the top of her lungs, calling him every four letter word in the book. The cabby turns around and says, “Geez Bob, you picked up a real bitch this time.”

JUNE THOUGHT FOR THE MONTH Don’t make someone a priority, who only makes you an option.


Sunglasses: Secrets of choice

Ugly Betty and horrible spectacles that were the main focus on her not very attractive look.

Sunglasses - an essential item during the summer season. Moreover, it is an additional accessory that underlines your individuality and unique style, if they are chosen correctly.

Choose a form of glasses and frame carefully, taking into account peculiarities of your face.

You can easily learn the secrets of making the right choice.

Glasses to suit your face shape The main rule - the form of glasses should contrast with facial oval. Straight or an arch between the lenses also affects the physical appearance: thin, light straight arch of dim colour (e.g., silver) visually increases the distance between eyes, while bright broad straight arch visually pulls together straddled eyes.

Comfort is the main thing You need to pay special attention to such details, as mobility of nasal support - remember that hard nasal supports often put pressure on the nose bridge and can cause rapid wear and tear. In addition, nasal supports can leave ugly marks on the nose bridge. So it is best to pick up frame with soft silicone mobile nasal supports.

Round face Correct: small rectangular frames with straight upper and lower lines, forming a clear angle to the side. Such glasses will emphasize cheekbones and narrow the face visually.

Another important element - ear arms. The size of ear arms must strictly comply with the distance from the frame to the convexity behind the helix. What does that mean?.. Ear arms should not exert pressure on temples or the area behind the ear. The frame should be comfortable and not cause fatigue, even during prolonged use.

Incorrect: round lens and rounded frames that visually fills the cheeks and makes the face even broader. Avoid frames, the outer side of which is wider than internal.

You should like the frame - when it comes to glasses not only as a device for vision correcting, but also as a means of image and personal style, the role of correctly chosen frame is undeniable.

Square face Correct: rounded or curved frames with the rise in the upper part, oval frames. Such glasses visually extend the face.

Sunglasses as a part of your image

Wrong: square frames.

In addition to functionality and convenience, which must surely stand in the first place when buying any glasses, even sun, their appearance plays no minor role in choice of decent glasses. It is not only the image. Glasses can change your appearance beyond recognition and they can also disfigure it. Recall, for example, a legendary

Elongated face Correct: large frames with rounded sides and straight bottom line, which visually widen face. Incorrect: frames sitting low on face. 8


Myopia glasses visually diminish eyes, so you need to visually enhance their make up. For such effect apply shadows of light shade on an upper eyelid, under eyebrows should be darker, while the outer corner of the eye is accentuated with brown pencil. Some cosmetologists advise to apply some blusher around the eyes, starting from the place where frame is adjacent to a cheekbone, and gradually rising to eyebrows. Long sight glasses visually enhance eyes, creating an impression of their proximity to the nose, so make up must slightly increase the distance between them. For this the inner eye corner is accentuated by very bright light shadows. Make up should be light, use mascara on eyelashes only partly, closer to the outer edge of eye.

Triangular face Correct: “aviator” frames, the upper part of which is thicker than bottom, and oval frames with a straight top line and rounded bottom part. If the oval of your face resembles a heart (the upper part is significantly wider than bottom), then you should choose frames with focused (heavier, wider, brighter) lower part. These glasses will balance face.

When choosing the form of protective glasses, one should be guided by the same rules, as in the choice of glasses with diopter.

Incorrect: Avoid square and rectangular frames.

Soft yellow glass reinforces contrast, fits only soft sunlight.

Colour Red, orange, bright yellow glass causes nervousness, increased irritability, sleeping problems.

Diamond-shaped face

Blue glass reduces sharpness of image, adversely affect retina.

Correct: frames with a straight lateral line, the bottom line of which is at an angle to the exterior of face. This will visually enhance the chin and forehead.

Pink glass will not only help seeing the world in the best light, but also severely distort light range. Such glasses are suitable only for soft sunlight.

Incorrect: frame with rounded lateral lines or lateral shading.

Black lenses are suitable for bright light. In other cases, when constant wear they increase intraocular pressure.

Make-up secrets Eye make-up should blend with the colour and shape of the frame and shape of spectacles. A thin metal, and also blue frame requires colours of the “cold” range: Purple, smoky-gray, silvery-blue, pearl. However, lipstick and make up in this case should be more intense. A thin transparent frame or golden frame require brown or beige shadows and contour pencil of same shade.

Gray colour is neutral and is not harmful to your eyes. Brown colour is also neutral, is suitable for everyday use. And finally, if you want to get not only protection from the sun, but also calm your nervous system, green lenses are meant for you.

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Spicy Ketchup: 1 clove garlic, minced 1 tablespoon butter 240 ml ketchup 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper 1 spring onion, finely chopped

Curry Pork Burgers with Spicy Ketchup

In a saucepan over medium heat, lightly saute garlic in butter, about 2 minutes. Add ketchup, red pepper flakes and cayenne pepper. Cook another 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in onions. Cool before serving.

Chunky Monkey Milkshake

Ingredients 1 1/4 Kg minced pork 2 teaspoons ground coriander 2 teaspoons curry powder 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper 3 spring onions, chopped 2 large clove garlic, finely chopped Salt and freshly ground black pepper 2 tablespoons olive oil 6 hamburger rolls 1 head of lettuce 2 to 3 tomatoes, sliced Spicy Ketchup, recipe follows Try this classic milkshake with your pork burgers for a real taste of America.

Directions In a large bowl, using your hands mix together pork, coriander, curry powder, Worcestershire, cayenne, onions and garlic, seasoning well with salt and pepper. Make 6 even patties and put in refrigerator until ready to cook. Heat a large fry pan over medium-high heat, add oil. Sear patties until golden brown on both sides and cooked through, about 5 minutes per side. Cook in batches, if necessary. Serve inside hamburger buns topped with lettuce leaf, tomato slice and spicy ketchup.

3 scoops vanilla ice cream 2 tablespoons chocolate chips 1/2 banana 1 tablespoon instant coffee 2 tablespoon chocolate syrup 240 ml milk 1 teaspoon vanilla Directions Blend on medium for 1 minute.. and serve immediately 13


Casa del C@fe Albondon. Since opening in February the cafe has gone from strength to strength. They now offer a selection of English groceries and sweets at affordable prices. With their first ‘Bingo’ night under their belt they are looking forward to continuing with their regular entertainment program. Why not call in and see ‘What’s on’ in June. ‘Summers here’ at Casa del C@fe - 958 826 603 Cafe Bar Garcia - Castell De Ferro have now added some new editions to their menu. These include Waldorf chicken salad, salad Nicoise, Doner Kebab Pizza, Tex Mex Pizza, Warm Camembert and bacon Tartlet, Samosas, Rogan Josh, Cheese, bacon and onion bread to name a few. Their menu now has over 50 choices and their own recipe chocolate tart is to die for. The menu is also available for takeaway. Cafe Bar Garcia have an extensive Wine list with wines from around the world and if you are celebrating they have French Champagnes. Their wines are from €8 per bottle. For you beer drinkers they have on draught Estrella Damn as well as bottled beer including Coronita, Budweiser, Heineken, Alhambra, Alhambra 1925, Voll Damn, Cobra, Bohemia, Dos Equis and Guinness. For you Cider lovers they have Strongbow ....... Oh! and to quench your thirst on a hot summers day Bacardi Breezers in 4 flavours. They are located on the Paseo and their terrace is now open with beautiful sea views. For full menu see advert on centre pages or for more information visit their website www.cafebargarcia. com Reservations are recommended as they are usually full most evenings. To make a reservation or order a takeaway call 650 921 132 O La La!! This month La Ventera Restaurant in Gualchos have yet another menu from around the world and this month the destination in France. The French Menu is only €15 euros and is served at both the lunchtime and evenings. They even have French wines available to accompany your meal. To make a reservation please call 958 83 00 64. 14

Damaged Drains or Pipes? Pipe Relining Could Save Time, Money and Mess If you have damaged pipework in your drainage system you can save time and disruption by relining the existing, damaged pipe rather than excavating and replacing the whole thing. Until now, pipe relining or repatching was not widely available throughout Spain, but that’s no longer the case thanks to the professionals at Pipetek (www.pipetek.net), the leading company providing drain care and repair throughout Andalucia, as well as leak detection and damp surveys. The specialist skill of pipe relining allows Pipetek to save their clients considerable upheaval, as a problem pipe relined (where possible) is significantly easier than replacing it. While investigating problems with drains in Spain, Pipetek come across all manner of problems, from root ingress to extreme damp-ridden properties. Whenever the problems are caused by cracked or even collapsed pipes, Pipetek can use their expertise, skill, experience and technological equipment to reline the pipes instead of having to completely replace them, depending on the individual case. In the cases where relining is possible, a new pipe made out of a material similar to glass-reinforced plastic, is placed within the existing pipe. Although flexible at first, the new pipe is then moulded to the damaged pipe by using ‘inversion’: a technique that uses air or water pressure to fit both the damaged and existing pipe together. Once set in place the relined pipe is tough and strong enough to work perfectly without causing problems. The relined pipe is also seamless and therefore leak free and root ingress becomes a thing of the past. Even if the original pipe completely breaks down, the new cured in place pipe (CIPP) remains strong and free flowing; All this without the considerable mess and upheaval of excavating floors, terraces and gardens or digging into walls to replace the damaged pipe in its entirety. Pipetek are the only company in southern Spain to offer CIPP Relining Technology and will soon offer the latest concept in patch lining; the ability to repair a small section of pipe that is leaking or allowing root ingress. This service will soon be available to Pipetek customers and will bring a surgeon-like precision to the skill of pipe maintenance and repair.


“We have always offered and conducted such works within the confines of Gibraltar and the UK and our engineers have conducted relining works for clients such as The Ministry of Defence, the Government of Gibraltar, Marks & Spencers, CocaCola UK and Exxon Mobile” said Jim Fraser, Managing Director of Pipetek SL. “We have now completed a major tie up with one of Europe’s premier suppliers of the relining product, Renoline, and we have been appointed sole supplier of their products for the Iberian Peninsular. Pipetek SL, together with Renoline Limited in the UK, is soon to commence offering training on the installation of the various relining products. This traini n g will

Legends Salobreña - Entertainment Schedule Sat 6th June - Talimono Sat 13th June - Not To Fall Sat 20th & 27th - please call for details Every Sunday afternoon - Jazz with Patrick Every Sunday Evening - Karaoke For more information or to make a reservation call 958 612 853 Opening a bar or looking to revamp then call 620 676 843 as they have available for sale used catering equipment including industrial stainless steel 6 burner oven, stainless fridge, grill, plates, glasses and much more........

be aimed at providing other drainage companies, plumbers, engineers etc. with the specialized skill required to conduct such an operation. Pipetek has always prided itself on its close relationship with other companies of a similar nature offering help and support when required and are looking forward to forging new ties within the Spanish and Portuguese markets. The pipe relining process can be applied to any material and any diameter from 75mm and has proven very cost effective on main sewer systems for local authorities and urbanizations. To find out more about pipe relining or any of the other professional services offered by Pipetek visit www.pipetek.net 15


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Sun Can be Harmful to Pets as Well as Humans

Too much exposure to sunlight can be harmful not only to humans but to animals as well. In fact, veterinarians have started to notice an increase in the number of skin diseases that animals develop because of too much exposure to sunlight. Animals possess natural protection from the sun’s rays. Their hair coat physically blocks out solar rays and protects their skin from harmful ultra-violet light. Many animals also have heavily pigmented skin with an abundance of melanocytes, the cells that help to protect the skin from the sun’s damaging rays. Animals, unlike some humans, also have the common sense to avoid direct sunlight. As a result, sunburns and sun-related skin problems tend to occur infrequently in animals, but they do occur. However, for sun damage to occur in pets, a combination of factors must come into play. For example, if the skin is poorly pigmented or lacks pigmentation, it is at high risk. Furthermore, a sparse hair coat or areas of the body that are hairless are also more susceptible. These sensitive areas must be regularly and frequently exposed to the sun in order to cause skin diseases. The sun’s ultraviolet radiation can cause a number of skin problems in pets. Sunburn, which is actually an inflammation of the skin, can occur in pets. Certain breeds of dogs (such as Dalmatians and white bull terriers) and white cats, are highly susceptible. Certain parts of the body, such as the nose and ears, are also more sensitive than others. Pets that have been recently groomed, have a thinner and less protective hair coat and are, therefore more succeptible. Repeated sunburns can eventually lead to malignant skin cancer. You can take safety precautions to minimize the risks the sun’s rays pose to your pets. If practicality permits, apply a sunscreen to those parts of your pet’s skin that are not pigmented and/or have little or no hair. In many cases, this may be impractical since the pet will immediately lick it off. Keep your pet out of direct sunlight during the hottest part of the day when the sun is strongest (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.). Whenever possible, provide shade and do not clip your pet’s hair coat, especially for the summer. Remember that the hair coat acts as insulation, keeping cold out during the winter and cooling the pet in the summer (pets “sweat” by panting). The hair also acts as a natural barrier, protecting the skin from the sun. If you suspect that your pet has a sun-related skin problem, you should consult your veterinarian to make sure it is not serious.

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Pets Can Become Allergic to Flea Bites!

Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD) also termed flea-bite hypersensitivity, is an allergic skin reaction to flea saliva. It can occur in both dogs and cats when fleas bite them. Dogs and cats rarely get this form of allergy before six months of age. Usually, the age of onset is around three-to-six years of age. The primary clinical signs of this skin disease are severe itching, biting (corn cob nibbles), and scratching, usually involving the hind end, especially at the base of the tail or inside the thighs. Cats often have an itchy patch over the base of the tail or in their thighs, but may also scratch around the head and neck region. Diagnosis is by physical examination, and in cats, it may also be associated with an increased eosinophil (a type of blood cell) count. Note that in cats, it can be difficult to find fleas or flea dirt, especially in longhaired breeds. Some cats are exquisitely sensitive, and even one or a few fleas can cause significant itchiness and skin lesions, so there just might not be few if any to be found on them. This allergic dermatitis is managed by eliminating exposure to adult fleas and by providing symptomatic therapy to help increase pet comfort while inflammation in the skin subsides. Flea control is accomplished by using an adulticide (i.e. a product that kills adult fleas), such as a flea powder, spray, topical agent, oral preparation or foam. Flea shampoos tend to be minimally effective in preventing fleas since most of the insecticide in the shampoo is washed off with the final rinse, but does provide a quick kill of resident fleas. There are currently several topical adulticides available from your veterinarian that are given orally, are injected, or applied directly onto the pet and that have been shown to be highly effective and safe to apply. Thorough control of fleas may include environmental treatments. In addition to the home, outdoor areas need to be treated in warm seasons. There is no cure for flea-bite hypersensitivity itself, so as long as fleas are present, the pet will have problems. Those pets that are affected may also become more reactive as time goes on. Medications may also be needed to help soothe the irrated skin and clear up any secondary infection (dermatitis). Your veterinarian should be consulted to determine which treatment option is best for your pet based on its lifestyle, activity level, and environmental contacts. Note that fleas can transmit a type of tapeworm intestinal parasite, so a stool sample sould be checked from fleainfested patients to make sure that they are not afflicted with this worm as well.


Prevent Bad Breath in Pets

Periodontal disease is characterized by excessive tartar accumulations, bad breath (halitosis), and inflammation of the gums. Every pet develops some degree of periodontal disease. How severe it gets depends on what is eaten, how much chewing occurs, the presence of other diseases, the effectiveness of the immune defense mechanisms, and the level of dental care provided. Bad breath can also be associated with mouth infections. Stomatitis, a severe inflammation of the soft tissues, periodontitis infection of the tooth supportive tissue), severe cavities (caries), tooth fractures, lodged foreign bodies (stick or bone caught in the gums) and tooth root abscesses can all produce foul breath odours. For these latter conditions, intervention with antibiotics, pain therapy, and surgical repair may be indicated.

veterinarian can also demonstrate the correct method of brushing so that your fingers are safer and brushing is most effective. Note that inner surfaces of the teeth that sit next to the tongue in cats do not need careful brushing because of their naturally abrasive tongue. Your veterinarian may also recommend use of a mouthwash or rinse. While both baking soda paste and hydrogen peroxide/ water mixtures have been advocated in the past as suitable dentifrices, currently available commercial products are preferred, especially those that include chlorhexidine or stannous fluoride. These are available from your veterinarian as a liquid or toothpaste.

To control periodontal disease, preventive oral hygiene is critical. Oral hygiene begins with a proper diet. Feeding your pet a dry pet food is more effective than feeding moist foods in provision of adequate chewing exercise and gum stimulation. Additional cleaning can be achieved by providing dry chew treats, and for dogs, rawhide strips and chew toys. Animal bones are not recommended for chewing because they can break teeth, damage the gums, or cause intestinal upsets. Some newer diets and treats have integrated tartar control components and these are an excellent adjunct for pets that are prone to oral disease. A dental home care program should be carried out. Daily care is ideal, but even twice weekly brushing of the teeth and gum has proven benefit. Although dental care is most easily accomplished in the kitten or puppy about the time the permanent teeth erupt, it can be introduced gradually in the older pet as well. The brushing procedure should initially be kept simple and should be followed with a pleasant reward. For example, brushing only one or two teeth with water, and then gradually including more teeth, and finally adding a veterinary dentifrice to the regimen at a later time is a good progression for training. Avoid the use of human toothpastes. Select one of the tuna or other pet-friendly flavours instead. The foaming action of the human paste detergents can cause an upset stomach and if swallowed daily can lead to stomach and gut irritation. Ideally, a soft infant toothbrush or a brush designed specifically for use in pets should be used. If this is refused, a soft cloth wrapped around the index finger can be used to clean the teeth and gums. Finger brushes (i.e. pediatric rubber fingers with small brushes built-in at the tip, available from your veterinarian) are especially effective. Your

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What’s caught my eye from this perspective in the southern hemisphere this past month? More of the rum goings-on amongst that happy band of rogues that like to call themselves politicians, for one thing. Britain’s own “expenses-gate” – a turnstile for fabulous, unearned wealth, by all accounts – and continuing episodes in the “Sarkozysaga”, to name but a couple of the news stories. Politicians really do seem to hail from another planet, with their own, peculiar codes and rules, and a disturbing lack of any seeming appreciation of life for lesser mortals – by which they would mean the long-suffering electorate, of almost any ideological hue. First, though, to President Nicolas Sarkozy. I’m an Englishman, so it’s never too difficult to take a jibe at any of our French cousins – and, besides, the diminutive Nicolas is none too difficult for anyone to rib. But it’s not just his stature, its what strikes me as his incipient, or actual, narcissism, his tendency to try to copy and then re-package as his own idea the latest initiative he might have heard, and the fact that he seems to put a shameless marketing of his admittedly attractive new wife before the affairs of the country he has been elected to govern. So much for any chance of a Légion d-Honneur in the post for me any time soon! Be all that as it may, M. Sarkozy was in Spain at the end of April, of course. This came only a couple of weeks after insider press reports revealed his disparaging lunch-time remarks about the Spanish Prime Minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero. Disparaging is putting it pretty mildly, in fact, even in the normally arcane language of diplomacy. In an aside during what he thought was a “private” luncheon, the Frenchman branded his European Union colleague as “perhaps not very smart” (i.e. “dim”). Fireworks were expected, therefore, when the Spaniard and Frenchman met in Madrid. Sadly, none were forthcoming and press readers were treated, instead, to the glamour showdown between Mrs Carla Bruni Sarkozy and Princess Letizia (wife of Crown Prince Felipe of Spain) – and some would say that the Spanish beauty had it. There’s certainly been nothing winsome or attractive in the latest scandal to have rocked the mother of parliaments back home. Thanks to some nifty investigative journalism by the daily Telegraph newspaper, certain (dis)honourable members of all the political parties have been caught red-handedly fiddling their expenses. Such fiddles are, of course, par for the course for practically any wage-slave and in some walks of life is seen as practically a perk of the job. But to discover culprits amongst Members of Parliament particularly sticks in the craw. Here are the people who adopt a “holier than thou” attitude when talking about almost anything to do with normal life and business, yet adopt a shifty double-standard when they think than can get away with it. Attempting to fiddle the expenses has been a dismissible offence in some jobs I’ve known. Fraudulently submitting inflated claims does not go down well with the local social

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benefits office for lesser mortals and the Inland Revenue would certainly chase up expenses fiddled on tax returns. Heads could roll or holidays taken at Her Majesty’s pleasure. Even now, though, many Members of Parliament seem to consider themselves above such things and vainly defend what they have done, blaming instead “the system” that allowed them to get away with it for so long. Scandalous seems the only word for it. Seen from here, though, I suppose it is important to keep these things in a proper perspective. British MPs seem to have been chiefly concerned with scraping the barrel for subsidised bath-plugs, feather dusters, coat-hangers and getting the moat cleaned out at the pile in the country – all relatively small-fry compared to the serious money to be made from entrance into the political circus in this part of the world. Politics can be a route to becoming seriously rich. In many parts of this great continent, for example, states are rumoured to elect their most seriously ambitious gold-diggers for service in the relevant federal capital where they can all squabble and fight together for the spoils, leaving the rest of the country in relative peace. Mention of the seriously rich reminds me of the story that is still rumbling on about one of the very richest women in the world. The 86-year old Liliane Bettencourt is the surviving principal shareholder of the L’Oreal “because you’re worth it” cosmetics company. She has been taken to court by her daughter, Françoise, over gifts said to be worth up to £890 million (€1 billion) to a Parisian society photographer, François-Marie Banier, who is some 25 years the old lady’s junior. The basis of the daughter’s legal action is that her mother lacks the mental capacity to have known what she was doing in bestowing so many expenses gifts on M. Banier, who potentially “abused” the old lady’s fragility. Mme. Bettencourt senior will have none of it, however, branding the civil action as “stupid” and pointing out that her daughter will in any event be the principal beneficiary of her will, but that, until that time comes, the money is hers to spend entirely as she wishes as a “free woman”. Banier is a friend, insists the 86-year old, who would never have abused their friendship, but, as “an artist” it should be expected that “artists see things differently”. The latest twist in the long-running spat between mother and daughter has come at the request of the prosecutor hearing the legal argument. He has called for psychiatric reports to confirm that the older woman is of sufficiently sound state of mind. She has already submitted to examination by her own psychiatrist, who has apparently passed her perfectly lucid, but the prosecutor is insisting on a further report to be conducted by a panel of court-appointed experts. Expect the story to run and run – probably until the poor woman’s death. M. Banier, in the meantime, has not surprisingly and very sensibly kept his head – together with the €1 billion-worth of gifts – well below the parapet.


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Chemical cocktail ‘risk to boys’

ing the action of testosterone in the womb.

Chemicals found in many food, cosmetic and cleaning products pose a real threat to male fertility, a leading scientist has warned.

His latest report highlights animal studies showing that testosterone disrupting chemicals can cause TDS-like disorders.

Professor Richard Sharpe, of the Medical Research Council, warned these hormone-disrupting chemicals were “feminising” boys in the womb.

In addition, de-masculinisation effects due to chemical pollutants in the environment has been reported in many species of wildlife.

He linked them to raising rates of birth defects and testicular cancer and falling sperm counts.

The direct evidence of an effect in humans is so far less compelling - but is beginning to mount.

Campaigners called for action to address the problem.

Professor Sharpe said: “Because it is the summation of effect of hormone disrupting chemicals that is critical, and the number of such chemicals that humans are exposed to is considerable, this provides the strongest possible incentive to minimise human exposure to all relevant hormone disruptors, especially women planning pregnancy, as it is obvious that the higher the exposure the greater the risk.”

They warned that while exposure to a single chemical may cause no harm, the cumulative effect could be profound. HORMONE DISRUPTORS Chemicals in consumer products and food that have been reported to disrupt the sex hormones include: Phthalates: Found in vinyl flooring, plastics, soaps, toothpaste

New EU chemicals legislation, called REACH (Registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction of chemicals) puts the onus on the chemical industry to prove that its products are safe.

Bisphenol: Found in babies’ bottles, food can linings. mobile phones, computers

Campaigners say it could be used to reduce exposure to hormone disrupting chemicals.

Pesticides: Including pyrethroids, linuron, vinclozolin and fenitrothion

Elizabeth Salter Green, CHEM Trust director, said; “Chemicals that have been shown to act together to affect male reproductive health should have their risks assessed together.

Professor Sharpe’s report was commissioned by the CHEM Trust, a charity which works to protect humans and wildlife from harmful chemicals.

“Currently that is not the case, and unfortunately chemicals are looked at on an individual basis.

There is evidence that male reproductive health is deteriorating, with malformations of the penis becoming more common, rates of testicular cancer rising, and sperm counts falling.

“Therefore, government assurances that exposures are too low to have any effect just do not hold water because regulators do not take into account the additive actions of hormone disrupting chemicals.

It is thought that all these conditions - collectively called Testicular Dysgenesis Syndrome (TDS) - are linked to disruption of the male sex hormone testosterone.

“It is high time that public health policy is based on good science and that regulatory authorities have health protection, rather than industry protection, uppermost in mind.”

Professor Sharpe concludes that exposure to a cocktail of hormone-disrupting chemicals in the environment is likely to be at least partly to blame by block-

Ms Green advised pregnant women to keep cosmetic use to a minimum and avoid DIY.

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Women ‘fight off disease better’

group of male and female mice, but only the males became more prone to infection. The researchers concluded that oestrogen produced by the female mice blocked the expression of the human Caspase-12 gene. They were also able to locate the precise place where oestrogen binds to the gene in order to block its activity. Since the experiments were conducted using a human gene, the researchers are confident their work is applicable to humans. Lead researcher Dr Maya Saleh said: “These results demonstrate that women have a more powerful inflammatory response than men.”

The Weaker Sex??.. no ...but we told you man flu was worse than woman flu!!

The researchers believe women may have evolved a more robust immune system because of their key role in producing and nurturing young.

Men really do have an excuse for supposedly being wimpy about coughs and colds - their immune systems are not as strong as women’s, research suggests.

Their work raises the possibility of new ways to reinforce the immune system using genetic manipulation. But writing in the journal, the researchers said: “A question remains: will men be amenable to the idea of being treated with an exclusively female hormone?”

A Canadian study indicates that the female sex hormone oestrogen gives women’s immune systems added bite at fighting off infection.

Dr Lesley Knapp, of the University of Cambridge, said there was a substantial body of evidence to show that women were better at fighting infections than men.

Oestrogen seems to counter an enzyme which blocks the inflammatory process. The McGill University study appears in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

She said: “Women are well known to be able to respond more robustly to infections, and to recover more quickly than men.

The researchers focused on an enzyme called Caspase-12, which is known to put a brake on the inflammatory process, the body’s first line of defence against harmful invaders such as bacteria and viruses.

“In evolutionary terms it only takes one male to reproduce with lots of females, but females are much more important in terms of producing offspring.”

They worked on mice that lacked the Caspase-12 gene, and were thus extremely resistant to infection. The human Caspase-12 gene was implanted into a

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TERRACE


Whether you are connected to the mains or have a solar power system, all of us know the nightmare of losing our power supply. Powercuts are infuriating for everyone, but are especially problematic if you particularly rely on power for your work, a baby, or some other reason. Without warning you can face darkness, food defrosting – all multitude of inconveniences and you have no idea how long it will last. If only there was prior warning you could at least boil the kettle or have that shower. And it always happens at the most inconvenient time possible! - when you have guests arriving or a party, or something important to do on the computer. Each time it happens we think we would do anything to avoid it happening again if we could, and then the power comes back on eventually and we forget all about it until the next time. If you want to never be in that situation again, there are backup options available, which will mean the next time everyone else is stuck in the dark – you will have no disruption. The simplest is a generator connected with 2 way switch, so that when your power fails you can start your generator and switch over the power to your property. You can improve this option by having an automatic starting generator and a clever control switch. Together these detect loss of power, start the generator and changeover to the generator supply for you – you still have to keep the generator fuelled, but you won’t have to go out and start it in the dark or pouring rain which is typically when these power cuts occur! Or for complete peace of mind, you can have a backup battery system so that you always have a stash of power. The legendary Outback Power Systems are trusted by governments and medical facilities but are also available on a domestic scale for you and can be used for grid or Solar power systems. The unique and very clever inverter allows your regular supply to keep the batteries constantly charged, and then in the event of power failure, seamlessly switches to the battery power. You probably won’t even notice! When power returns it’ll simply switch back over and top up the charge in your batteries, ready for the next time.

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If you have a Solar system, there is also a programming device to work with this amazing inverter which can be set to do lots of clever things for you, including automatically switching to generator power if you switch on a high usage item. If you are experiencing unreliable power, mains or solar, consider making life easier. For more information visit www.outbackpower.com and if you have any questions or if you would like some free advice on backup power or solar systems …


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Leave keys for family members, house sitters or holiday rentals in it. Just let them know the four digit code. Or leave your valuables in it if you are out and about and can’t carry them with you (perfect for water sports enthusiasts who don’t want a soggy car key fob when back on dry land). I’ve seen some bonkers alarm clocks in my time but Clocky has just raised the bar. And that’s because this wacky waker-upper leaps off the bedside table and scoots around looking for somewhere to hide when its alarm sounds. No, really! “Remember the good old days when you could get rid of the kids for a few hours by getting them a job with the local chimney sweep? Or when home security was a key on a string through your letterbox? Our family employed the key under the doormat strategy - after all no burglar would think of looking under a doormat for a key. Times are a changin’ however as Bobby Dylan used to tell me. It’s probably illegal to send kids up chimneys these days. And there’s now an even better place to hide keys and other small valuables - the Padlock Keysafe.

Simply set Clocky’s snooze button to zero and when the alarm sounds all hell breaks loose as this madcap digital clock scurries away, making random turns and racing from your grasp as it searches for somewhere to hide, beeping and flashing all the way. Think R2D2 on Red Bull crossed with the crazy frog and you’re halfway there. Quite obviously this means you’ll have to get out of bed to switch Clocky off. Aargh! It’s incredibly obnoxious but seriously effective.

The Padlock Keysafe is basically a small padlocked metal box made from weather-resistant stainless steel and coated with baked black paint. It’s big enough to hold credit cards, banknotes, keys and other small objects and is secured by a four digit combination lock (meaning there are 10,000 combinations to choose from). Now all you need to do is secure the Padlock Keysafe to something solid - the towing loop under the back of your car, a garage door handle or metal garden railings - and it’s job done. 32

This smart little clock is always on the lookout for different places to hide. Under the bed? Behind the door? Beneath the table? That’s for Clocky to know and for you to find out! Beep…Beep…Beep…Beep… Beep...Aargh!! Cast your mind back to the last few minutes of last year and all those New Year’s resolutions being made about losing weight in 2009. Ring any bells? By now, the majority of us will have fallen by the wayside and are in need of a little help to get back on the


straight and narrow. And here it is. The Talking Can Fridge Guard. This superb gadget looks like a normal fizzy drink can and will not look out of place in any fridge. But unlike normal drink cans, this baby can talk. It keeps its mouth shut most of the time, but because it’s activated by the fridge light, it barks out whatever message you want whenever the fridge door is opened. Even better, you get to record the message which means you can offer gentle advice to yourself such as “Go easy on the Chardonnay” or encouraging words of wisdom to others like “Don’t you dare drink all the milk!” or “Move away from the fridge - I’ve counted the cream cakes”.

Finding a banana in your packed lunch isn’t always the most pleasant of experiences. Particularly if said banana has organised some kind of dirty protest and squidged itself all over said pack lunch. That’s why the Banana Guard is the best thing since, well, sliced bananas.

In fact, dieting aside, if you have a male teenager who is currently eating you out of house and home, The Talking Can Fridge Guard will pay for itself within days. Do you find it really hard to get other people to make your the “perfect” cup or Tea or Coffee? If so, My Cuppa Mugs are the answer! There are two mugs available, one for Tea and one for Coffee, and each one has a built in colour chart on the inside. Simply tell the person you’ve roped in to make your cuppa your choice of colour, and then with precise application of the milk they can match the colour and Voila - your perfect Cuppa!

Put an end to your slaves making your tea / coffee too weak or strong, and get the perfect cuppa every single time! It’s such a simple idea, it’s suprising no one has thought of it before! Great for use at home or in your office, the My Cuppa Mugs ensure you get the perfect cuppa.

This ingenious re-usable plastic case has been designed to protect bananas from getting bashed about in your lunch box. Simply place your banana inside, close the Banana Guard using the three locking clasps and away you go. Ideal for picnics, school and work. The Banana Guard even has small holes in it to keep the air circulating to prevent over-ripening. In fact once they see it in action, the whole family will want one so you’ll need to buy a bunch of them. Boom boom. 33


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Spain’s “autonomous communities” By Peter Webb Our tour of the various autonomous communities of Spain takes us to one of the most fervently nationalist and separatist parts of the whole of Western Europe, Pais Vasco. In many ways, this might be considered somewhat odd. Certainly, there is a distinct enough history to give the area its particular characteristics, it has been settled for a long time, and its own distinctive language has survived largely unchanged since around 6,000 BC. But for the peculiar separatist and nationalist forces of the Basque Country – which continue to feed a deadly form of civil terrorism within this part of Europe – it will be necessary to look at rather more recent history. 36

One of the reasons for the persistence of an identifiable community spanning both sides of the western Pyrenees was its ability to lie low during successive waves of conquest and continue to keep its collective head down was neighbouring provinces in both France and Spain were colonised by Romans, Visigoths or Muslims. The distinctive language was absolutely essential to what was to become a sense of Basque identity. As mentioned, the language was spoken as early as 6,000 BC. Following this date, a huge and relentless wave of Indo-European culture and languages


swept throughout the remainder of the continent, virtually wiping out all pre-Indo-European languages, with the exception of that spoken in the lands of the Basques. The Basques call themselves Euskaldunak, which means simply those who speak Euskera (Basque), in the lands called Euskalerria (the Basque-speaking country).

By the nineteenth century, the Basque Country was nevertheless fighting for the survival of a Statute System which they recognised as guaranteeing an element of independence from the rest of Spain. It was a fight the Basques steadily lost throughout the century and culminated in the Law of Abolition of the Statutes in July of 1876.

Except for the southern-most reaches of the Basque country, the Roman occupation of the Iberian Peninsula had little impact on the Basques, although its people seemed to enjoy amiable enough relations with the conquering legions. Indeed, many Basques joined the Roman legions, to serve in some of the most distant corners of the Empire. A unit from the land of the Basques was even garrisoned along Hadrian’s Wall in the north of Britain.

The loss of such freedoms was to remain an open sore, ready to be exploited by a new wave of nationalism at the end of the century. The Basque Nationalist Party (PNV) was founded in 1895 but was set up largely in response to huge rise in immigration into the Basque Country from the rest of Spain to work in the newly commissioned iron ore processing industries. The nationalist campaign for independence or self-government, therefore, was principally directed against Spanish immigrants who the Basques saw as a threat to their ethnic, cultural and linguistic integrity.

The fact that the Basque Country was a poor region also helped to keep Roman interest at bay and the same geographical isolation and poverty also kept the region fairly quiet during the invasion of the Visigoths, although Basque rebels staged a series of skirmishes as the invaders moved southwards during the years 435 to 450 AD. Invasion of the Iberian Peninsula by the Moors beginning in 711 saw a further opportunity for the Basques to ensure a peaceful co-existence that left them very much to their own devices. Over the next century or two, in fact, the arrangement allowed the coming into being of the Kingdom of Pamplona, which is effectively the first Basque state to have defined its borders to the north with France and to the south with the Muslim occupiers of the rest of Spain. From the 10th to 12th centuries, however, the kingdom saw many partitions and the territory’s incorporation into first the kingdom of Navarre and then Asturias and later Castile. As a result of the conflict arising from the succession to the Spanish Throne in 1700, the Basque provinces were the only ones which, together with Navarre, preserved their local charters and institutions. This special situation prompted the spread among the people of the territory the consciousness of a special identity and of belonging to a community with institutions of its own and a separate regime. It was during this time, in fact that an important element in subsequent Basque nationalism was to be founded. These were the famous Statutes of Navarre which granted the two provinces (Navarre and Castile) recognition of their “ancient character in laws, territory and government” – the origin of the so-called Basque Statute System.

This resulted in the strange state of affairs during the opening of hostilities in the Spanish Civil war that saw some Basques on the side of the republicans and others in support of General Francisco Franco’s “nationalists”. This didn’t stop – and was perhaps a factor in – one of the worst atrocities of the war, in which German aeroplanes bombed the town of Guernica (immortalised in Picasso’s landmark painting). When the war ended, of course, Franco was free to pursue his vision of a single, centralised nation state and stamp down hard on any minority within Spanish borders, including the Basques. The aim was to eradicate minority cultures and languages. During Franco’s days of power, though, a further movement helped to harden the Basques’ opposition to all things Spanish and thirst again for independence. Increasing industrialisation during the 1960s onwards saw a new wave of immigration into the Basque Country from many poorer parts of Spain. This fuelled a new Basque separatist movement known as Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (literally, Basque Country and Freedom, but better known simply by the acronym, ETA). This injected a deadly brand of armed struggle into the separatists’ agenda and one that has failed to die away even with the proclamation of the Basque Country as an autonomous community in 1979 (granting it its own elected parliament, police force, education system and some control over taxation). Even this was achieved by a grudging Basque electorate, however, since the majority of those Basques qualified to vote either voted “no” or registered their abstention. 37


The hidden sentence is A door is what a dog is perpetually on the wrong side of

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Northgate Information Solutions is a market leader in providing specialist software, outsourcing and information technology (IT) services to the human resources, local government, education and public safety markets. Northgate, which is owned by private equity company Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR), currently employs over 6,000 staff and operates in 46 countries across 5 continents. Northgate has approximately 4,500 large/medium customers and approximately 10,500 small to medium enterprise (SME) customers world wide. The many corporate organisations Northgate works closely with include over 20% of fortune 500 clients ,90% of the UK local authorities and all of the UK’s police forces. We are expanding the scope of our Granada operation and creating a hub for Credit Management for Europe & UK and UK transactional activities and support. We are currently seeking graduates with fluent English and a “can do” attitude to come and work in our new Multilingual Finance Shared Service Centre which is situated in the heart of Granada on the Gran Vía de Colón. The roles that we are currently recruiting for are: • Transactional Processors for cash receipting and payments, reconciliation of data entered into sub ledgers and dealing with customer correspondence and general administration duties. • Credit Controllers to proactively contact our predominantly UK based and English speaking customers. • Team Leader positions for the above roles. Hours of work will be 09:30 to 18:30 Monday to Thursday and 09:30 to 17:30 on Friday, you will be expected observe UK bank holidays. Qualifications and Work Experience: • Finance or Business Administration, Translation or Tourism degree • Qualified by experience with at least two years experience in a multi national organisation • Demonstrate flexibility in style and approach to problem solving • Excellent customer services skills to proactively build and maintain relationships with customers Knowledge (Language IT Skills etc) • Fluent and wide ranging vocabulary in English is absolutely necessary • Full class room training will be provided for systems, processes and commercial knowledge for the role • A basic understanding of Microsoft Office is desirable Personal Skills • Willingness to learn • Strong, performance-orientated person, able to function in a dynamic environment • Customer-orientated and with strong personal empowerment skills • Good analytical skills, effective communications skills both oral and written Please contact: Rosa Castilla Phone: 958 990790 E-mail: rosa.castilla@northgate-is.com

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had to return to England, and visiting a bank found the cashier apologising to me for keeping me waiting for five whole…minutes!!! He was genuinely surprised when I laughed and told him, that for me at least, that was rapid service.

A FULL LIFE OR A FAST LIFE? As I bumped into a friend in Motril the other day I wryly noted that he was leaving for work at the time he was already supposed to have been in work, indeed in his daily meeting with his staff. It set me thinking that being late for just about everything isn’t so much an annoying habit of the Andaluces; rather it is actually part of the quality of life here in Spain. Often as I return home from the school run I find myself waiting at a zebra crossing whilst dozens of youngsters (and not a few teachers) make their way towards school several minutes after the final bell has sounded and the gates are (in theory) locked. When, over twenty years ago, I first began teaching English here, I was warned by a friend never to arrange for a class to start other than on the hour. Much later a Spanish friend joked (?) with me that you’re not late for a 10.00 a.m. appointment at 10.59 a.m. ... that only happens as from 11.00 a.m. It does take living in Spain to truly appreciate a more leisurely attitude to life. For Spain (well at least Andalucía) has not (yet!) been infected by the insane “drivenness” of either Britain or America. This is probably one of the reasons that so many of us choose to live here. A long while ago, when I was bemoaning the inability to get anything done during a period of frequent fiestas, a Spanish law student quite seriously told me that work was, of course, important but that it shouldn’t interfere with life. That life was for living – and enjoying fiestas! Work hard, play hard. And, of course she was totally right. Where else can you wait behind two cars as they stop opposite each other in the street just to talk? How much patience do you learn queuing in a bank? Or waiting for the person in front of you in the supermarket to slowly and methodically pack her shopping bags? When pesetas changed to euros and queuing in a bank was raised to a whole new level, with hour-long queues quite normal, I 40

So do we really need to be constantly rushing? Do we work to live, or live to work? Assuming of course we can get work these days. Do we run through life, or do we stop to consider if there is more? Are we so taken up with the practical details of the journey that we never stop to enjoy the ride? Alternatively, is life just one long party with seldom a sober moment for reflection? Or does it have purpose? My boss, Jesus the Christ, once said: “I have come to give you life in all its fullness”. This country gives us the opportunity to do something about that; the local culture is not constantly rushing headlong into the next ... whatever. There is time to breathe; time to smell the roses. So let me ask you – do you? How do you view your life? Is it full or is it empty? Is it rich in purpose or is it pointless? Do you ever stop to think about it? So often we settle for existence rather than life. Either through a sheer resignation to the mundane or because we are so stuck in the fast lane that we dare not look away from the road ahead to consider the scenery that is passing us by. In slowing down we can appreciate the beauty of our world, wonder at the intricacies of life in creation, enjoy our relationships and even stop to consider just what we are here for. Very often we don’t face the question of life until we are brought face to face with the fact of death – either our own looming large or that of someone close to us. Many people who have recovered from cancer testify to the fact that it completely and radically changed their outlook on life. We don’t have to wait for disaster to strike; we can make an immediate difference to our own lives and those of the people we love. Stop for a moment. Take a number of long, slow, deep breaths. Look around: look inside. Slow down: rush and hurry are the deadly enemies of contentment. If you knew you were going to die tomorrow what difference would it make to the way you lived today? What would there be left that you still had to do? What would there be that you just wanted to do?


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Friesland or Don Pedro – mixing history

authorities to raise the vessel’s cargo, in return for which they would take a percentage of the profits. As is usual practice for such operations, a few artefacts from the ship were raised to correctly identify that the ship they had located was indeed the Friesland.

What’s the difference between a late nineteenth century cargo ship laden with tin and a Spanish galleon from the late sixteenth century, reputed to be loaded with gold and diamonds? You’d think that history would be pretty good at separating the two. Yet in what appears to be a bizarre confusion over the two very different ship wrecks, three Cornishmen were convicted by the Spanish courts last month of “destroying the country’s heritage”.

It was at this point that the course of an otherwise fairly straight forward salvage operation began to become confused and turn more than a little nasty. Having set up a further liaison meeting with Spanish officials to take the operation onto the next stage, the team was making its way with the recovered sample artefacts – including a single porthole from the ship bearing the mark “Made in Newcastle” stamped on it – when the house they were staying in was raided. Officials, the police and the courts had decided that Force 9 Salvage was in fact after treasure from the legendary Spanish galleon Don Pedro and its fabled cargo of gold and diamonds. This was an altogether astonishing accusation, given that one of the very few artefacts that had raised was the pothole with “Made in Newcastle” stamped on it. As Peter Devlin told The Observer newspaper on the 29th of March 2009: “I’ve a porthole from the Friesland with ‘Made in Newcastle’ stamped around it. That’s not the Armada down there, is it?”

It had all started out as a fairly unexceptional salvage operation, in the Atlantic, off the northwestern part of Spain that is Galicia. It was here, some two miles out from the port of Corrubedo that the British-built cargo ship, the Friesland, had sunk in 1877 with her cargo of some 200 tonnes of tin. At today’s prices, the salvaged cargo could fetch around £2 million, and this attracted the attention of a former Royal Navy diver and Cornishman, Peter Devlin. Following two years of painstaking research, which finally confirmed that the holds of the Friesland indeed contained a significant cargo of tin, Devlin set up his own salvage company, Force 9 Salvage, and sank more than £100,000 of his own money into an operation to recover the metal. He also assembled his diving and operations team of fellow Cornishmen, Malcolm Cubin and Steve Russ, along with a further diver Yanic Alvareas (who subsequently died in a road accident before the salvage operation began). With everything looking good, the team acquired a salvage licence from the Spanish

But the authorities persisted in their conviction that the team’s real target was the legendary Don Pedro and its hoard of gold and diamonds. This conviction seemed to be based on no more than what were, literally, old fishermen’s tales. 42


Devlin, on the other hand is adamant that his own research has shown that there was no such precious cargo on the Don Pedro, which instead of being a treasure ship was no more than one heading for Spain from France in order to take on board intended emigrants to the New World.

talk of conspiracy, endless questioning about what they had done with all the gold, and local newspapers continuing their headlines about “Drake’s men” having looted the legendary Don Pedro. It was not until the beginning of this year, when a new prosecutor was appointed to oversee the case that matters were finally brought to court. But even then the charges of “destroying the country’s heritage” were made to stick. Devlin, Cubin and Ross were offered a plea bargain in which they pleaded guilty in return for suspended sentences and fines. The convictions stand – along with the continued “mystery” of the Don Pedro. In the meantime, Peter Devlin’s salvage operation and the company that was to have realised his dream of salvaging the tin from the Friesland have come to a bitter end and he has now found alternative employment with an oil company in Dubai.

Although nearly 300 years separate the respective fates of the Friesland and the Don Pedro, the waters off Galicia are still known by local fishermen and Spanish maritime authorities as the famed stamping grounds of Sir Francis Drake and his chasing down of ships from the Armada. Hence, the charges against the three Cornishmen of plotting to loot the mythical sunken treasure ship of its gold and diamonds – despite no proof that any such reassure ever existed, still less the pinpointing of its location. As Peter Devin lamented, “They had heads full of gold. If it wasn’t so serious it could be a comedy. We were facing six years in prison”.

As for the Friesland’s cargo of salvageable tin, it is understood that Spanish divers now already have it within their sights.

The team remained under criminal investigation for many years since they first began diving to the Friesland in May of 2002. There was

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The Olympian Despite his proficiency at home, his first public competition was disappointing. Peter had missed with every shot and lost further points for accidentally despatching the host club’s cat. Peter greatly admired the achievements of British Olympians. He had watched the world beating performances of Sir Steve Redgrave, Linford Christie, Sally Gunnell and others and dreamed of one day joining their illustrious ranks. He imagined himself atop an Olympic podium, draped in a union flag, the notes of the British National Anthem drowned-out by cheers from a rapturous crowd. There was, however, a problem. The great Olympians not only had outstanding aptitude for their sports but demonstrated unstinting dedication. His heroes and heroines had committed themselves to years of rigorous training in order to achieve their goals. Peter, by contrast, was disinclined to expend undue effort on his quest for Olympic glory. It was to resolve this dilemma that Peter studied a list of Olympic sports in search of the least demanding. He discarded activities requiring strength or physical fitness and thus focussed upon shooting events. Remaining still and gently squeezing a trigger certainly met his athletic criteria. In addition, one event seemed to offer a solution to the problem of training and practice – the Ten Metre Air Pistol*. Peter opened the connecting door between his living room and kitchen and paced from his sofa. It was exactly ten metres to the kitchen wall. He had found his Olympic event. Peter purchased an air pistol and began his Olympic preparations. Every day he would lay on the sofa watching TV, a Guinness in one hand, his pistol in the other. Previously he had resented long TV commercial breaks, particularly as he paid additional subscriptions for the adult channels. Now, these intermissions afforded an ideal opportunity to blast away at targets nailed to the kitchen wall. Within a year, Peter’s aim was so perfect that he decided to repair the peppered walls, ceilings, furniture and windows that testified to his earlier practice. He even replaced the cat.

The problem was obvious: He was unused to firing whilst standing or when sober. With appropriate adjustments to technique, his next competition performance impressed all. There was little question that Peter was destined to represent Great Britain at the forthcoming Olympics. **************************** Peter’s team-mates carried his sofa into the Olympic arena and positioned his TV and DVD player. As his Olympic competitors fired carefully aimed shots, Peter loaded his favourite XXXBabes DVD and downed his first can of Guinness. Competitors were required to fire sixty shots within one hundred and five minutes. His team became increasingly anxious as Peter, having fired none, watched Lesbian Lovers to its end, leaving just one minute of the competition remaining. Then, whilst finishing his tenth can of Guinness, Peter lifted his specially adapted semi-automatic air pistol and triumphantly fired sixty pellets into the targets’ centres. Peter felt dizzy as he stood on the podium waving his Olympic gold medal. Perhaps he should have postponed the additional celebratory drinks until after the ceremony? Nevertheless, as he fell backwards off the podium, wrapped in the union flag and with the sounds of British National Anthem and the cheers of the crowd in his ears, he entered the happiest state of alcoholic unconsciousness of his life. *The Ten Metre Air Pistol is a genuine Olympic event. You can read more about the event via Wikipedia and you will note that Peter’s victory led to many changes in the rules of the sport. These include firing from the standing position, loading only one pellet at a time and, most critically, all competitors being breathalysed.

Permission kindly granted by Swan Morrison - www.short-humour.org.uk. All fees donated to Friends of Teso Uganda - www.friends-of-teso-uganda.org.uk

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Costa Tropical News - June 09 Edition  

The Costa Tropical News