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Issue 37 - December 2009

THE

WIDEST RANGE OF ARTICLES, THE BIGGEST DISTRIBUTION AREA, PROVEN, SUCCESSFUL ADVERTISING AND OVER 12,000 READERS. THE NO.1 MAGAZINE FOR THE COSTA TROPICAL.


Contents

DECEMBER 2009

4 LIGHTER SIDE The

Best Humour in one place 8 ALL WOMAN Holiday Make-Up ideas

1 1 ASK THE CHEF New feature from Chef Anthony solving your culinary needs

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

18 ANIMALS & PETS Pet Issues

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

26 HEALTH MATTERS News and articles relating to health

30 GADGETS & GIZMOS

and healthy living

The wildest, wackiest and probably the most useless gadgets around

34 AUTONOMOUS A trip around Spain and the autonomous communities

40 THE COMPASS More musings on life from Leslie Thomas

46 WHAT ARE THE ODDS OF THAT? 50 TWAS THE NIGHT

Ridiculous odds of silly events

BEFORE CHRISTMAS Magi and a mission.

WWW.COSTATROPICALNEWS.COM To Advertise Call - Mobile 620 676 843 - Office 958 069 058 - email: info@costatropicalnews.com Deposito Legal B - 51548 - 2006 - Editor: Simon Batchelor 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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always late. So, where are you staying in Rome ?” “We’ll be at this exclusive little place over on Rome’s Tiber River called Teste.” “Don’t go any further. I know that place. Everybody thinks its gonna be something special and exclusive, but it’s really a dump.” “We’re going to go to see the Vatican and maybe get to see the Pope.” A woman arrived at a party. While scanning the guests, she spotted an attractive man standing alone. She approached him, smiled and said, “Hello. My name is Carmen.” “That’s a beautiful name,” he replied. “Is it a family name?” “No,” she replied. As a matter of fact I gave it to myself. It represents the things that I enjoy the most - cars and men. Therefore I chose “Carmen”. “What’s your name?” she asked. He answered “B.J. Titsengolf.” § A woman was at her hairdresser’s getting her hair styled for a trip to Rome with her husband. She mentioned the trip to the hairdresser, who responded: “ Rome ? Why would anyone want to go there? It’s crowded and dirty..You’re crazy to go to Rome . So, how are you getting there?” “We’re taking Continental,” was the reply. “We got a great rate!” “Continental?” exclaimed the hairdresser. “ That’s a terrible airline. Their planes are old, their flight attendants are ugly, and they’re

because as we toured the Vatican, a Swiss Guard tapped me on the shoulder, and explained that the Pope likes to meet some of the visitors, and if I’d be so kind as to step into his private room and wait, the Pope would personally greet me. Sure enough, five minutes later, the Pope walked through the door and shook my hand! I knelt down and he spoke a few words to me.” “Oh, really! What’d he say ?”

“That’s rich,” laughed the hairdresser. You and a million other people trying to see him. He’ll look the size of an ant.

He said: “Who screwed up your hair?” §

Boy, good luck on this lousy trip of yours. You’re going to need it.” A month later, the woman again came in for a hairdo. The hairdresser asked her about her trip to Rome. “It was wonderful,” explained the woman, “not only were we on time in one of Continental’s brand new planes, but it was overbooked, and they bumped us up to first class. The food and wine were wonderful, and I had a handsome 28-year-old steward who waited on me hand and foot. And the hotel was great! They’d just finished a $5 million remodeling job, and now it’s a jewel, the finest hotel in the city. They, too, were overbooked, so they apologized and gave us their owner’s suite at no extra charge!” “Well,” muttered the hairdresser, “that’s all well and good, but I know you didn’t get to see the Pope.” “Actually, we were quite lucky, 4

A woman brought a very limp duck into a veterinary surgeon. As she laid her pet on the table, the vet pulled out his stethoscope and listened to the bird’s chest. After a moment or two, the vet shook his head sadly and said; “I’m sorry, your duck (Cuddles) has passed away.” The distressed woman wailed; “Are you sure?” “Yes, I am sure. The duck is dead.” replied the vet. “How can you be so sure?” she protested. “I mean you haven’t done any testing on him or anything. He might just be in a coma or something.” The vet rolled his eyes, turned around, and left the room. He returned a few minutes later with a black Labrador Retriever. As the duck’s owner looked on in amazement, the dog stood on his hind legs, put his front paws on the examination table, and sniffed


ONE LINERS Men have two emotions: Hungry and Horny. If you see him without an erection, make him a sandwich. Having sex is like playing bridge. If you don’t have a good partner, you’d better have a good hand.

the duck from top to bottom. He man isn’t sure why she is shudthen looked up at the vet with sad dering and goes back to reading. A few minutes pass. The woman eyes and shook his head. sneezes again. She takes a tissue, The vet patted the dog on the gently wipes her nose and shudhead and took it out of the room. ders quite violently in her seat. The man is becoming more and A few minutes later he returned more curious about the shudderwith a cat. The cat jumped on the ing. A few more minutes pass. table and also delicately sniffed The woman sneezes yet again. the bird from head to foot. The cat She takes a tissue, gently wipes sat back on its haunches, shook its her nose and shudders violently head, meowed softly, and strolled again. The man has finally had all he can handle. He turns to out of the room. the woman and says, “Three The vet looked at the woman and times you’ve sneezed and three said; “I’m sorry, but as I said, this is times you’ve taken a tissue and most definitely, 100% certifiably, a wiped your nose then shuddered violently! Are you sending me dead duck.” signals, or are you going crazy?” The vet turned to his computer The woman replies, “I’m sorry if I terminal, hit a few keys and pro- disturbed you. I have a rare condiduced a bill, which he handed to tion and when I sneeze, I have an the woman. The duck’s owner, orgasm.” The man, now feeling a still in shock, took the bill. “€150!” little embarrassed but even more she cried; “€150 just to tell me my curious says, “I’ve never heard of duck is dead!?” that before. What are you taking for it?” The woman looks at him The vet shrugged; “I’m sorry. If and says, “Pepper.” you had just taken my word for it, the bill would have been €20, § but... with the Lab Report and the 3 men where at the FBI Building Cat Scan, it’s now €150.” for a job interview. § The first man walked into the ofA man and a woman are sitting fice . The interviewing FBI agent beside each other in the first class said “To be in the FBI you must section of the plane. The woman be loyal, dedicated, and give us sneezes, takes a tissue, gently your all. Your wife is in the next wipes her nose, and shudders room. I want you to go in there quite violently in her seat. The and shoot her with this gun.” The 5

man took the gun, hesitated, and said “Sorry, I can’t do it.” The next interviewee came into the office. The Agent said “To be in the FBI you must be loyal, dedicated, and give us your all. Your wife is in the next room. I want you to go in there and shoot her with this gun.” The man took the gun, walked into the room, then walked out. “Sorry,” he said. The last man came into the office. The interviewer said “To be in the FBI you must be loyal, dedicated, and give us your all. Your wife is in the next room. I want you to go in there and shoot her with this gun.” The man took the gun and went into the room. The Agent heard 6 shots, silence, then a lot of screaming. The man came out of the room and said “Someone loaded the gun with blanks, so I beat her to death with the curtain railing!”

DECEMBER THOUGHT FOR THE MONTH There are two kinds of people, those who do the work, and those who take the credit. Try to be in the first group; there is less competition there


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 individuals with a “can do” attitude and a willingness to learn / graduates / fluent English speakers 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: • HR Co-ordinator. This person will provide operational HR Administrative Support delivering an excellent service to the Finance Shared Service Centre. You will be required to perform duties in accordance with the collective agreement and company policies and procedures. You will maintain all employment data and produce standard HR administration documentation. As and when required you will deal with operational HR issues to ensure a positive outcome for the team. Liaise with the payroll agency as appropriate. Maintain effective relationships with internal customers and suppliers. Keep abreast of changes in Employment Legislation. Ensure company confidentiality at all times. Desirable Qualifications and experience; Previous HR administration/support, A HR qualification or related degree, Working knowledge of a shared service model Essential; Excellent command of the English Language both written and verbal, PC Literacy - Word, Excel, PowerPoint, outlook • Finance Manager. This person will manage the development of a credit management function within a newly created Finance Centre of Excellence (FCE) in Granada, Spain. The main function of the FCE is to support UK based divisions and their highly valued clients. You will be responsible for ensuring that services are delivered to a high standard, and that appropriate improvements and change initiatives are implemented to deliver continuous improvement in services to the rest of the Group. • Balance Sheet Accountant - Up to €45,000. This person will assist in the control, review, consolidation and reporting of the consolidated balance sheet and to review and interrogate the balance sheet at individual ARINSO locations. To provide assistance to Group Reporting Accountant in the day to day reporting and reporting of UK and European locations. The role reports to the Group Reporting Accountant. Hours of work will be 0930 to 0630 Monday to Thursday and 0930 to 0530 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 • Availability to travel Knowledge • • •

(Language IT Skills etc) Fluent and wide ranging vocabulary in English is absolutely necessary. Spanish will be an advantage Full class room training will be provided for systems, processes and commercial knowledge for the role A basic understanding of SAP FI and other Finance systems are desirable

Personal Skills • Demonstrable “can do” attitude, a 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: Lisa Coleman Phone: (0044) 07983379078 E-mail: lisa.coleman@northgate-is.com


Holiday Makeup Ideas

B

ecause the holidays are very special occasions you will need to look different than usual, you will need to look fabulous. Get yourself in the holiday spirit with some festive holiday makeup ideas!

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oliday makeup can differ from the rest of the days due to the special occasion they create. Because holidays are special times, full of joy and happiness, when families gather together to celebrate, your look needs to be a little bit special as well.

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pecial times call for special measures so now is the time to catch up with your makeup basics.

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oliday makeup is usually stronger than usual every day makeup, simply due to the occasion. There is no rule when it comes to colour, the only rule is to make sure not to cross the fine line between appropriate makeup and going overboard towards trashy.

B

old Eyes Makeup

the eyes. A basic rule of makeup says not to go bold with your eyes as well as your lips so decide which of the two is your best facial feature. If you consider your eyes to be the best, choose two or three tones which you will blend together to enhance your eyes. The colour you choose depends on your eye colour and skin tone and personal preference.

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or brown eyes you can try purple tones, gold tones, grey tones. For green eyes green tones work great, browns and coppers. For blue eyes you can go for purples, soft browns, peach and greys. Apply the eyeshadow according to your eye shape but make sure not to go too strong with the colour if you are creating a daytime makeup.

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se eyeliner to define your eyes. You can apply the eyeliner near your eyelashes and line with an eyeliner pencil your waterline as well. If you have small eyes line only outside the lash line since dark eyeliner applied on the waterline will have a diminishing effect. Coat your lashes with mascara and your peepers will look astonishing.

B

old Lips

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ne of the ways to go when it comes to your holiday makeup is accentuating


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ips are considered to be very sensual and they can have a very powerful attraction attached. Full sensual lips is the way to go if you consider your lips to be your best facial feature.

bit of black eyeliner along the lashline and a white eyeliner on your waterline.

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T

se a contour pencil to give the lips more fullness if you think you need it. Contour just above your lip line and thus your lips will appear fuller.

he with eyeliner will make your ayes appear bigger. Coat your lashes with mascara and apply a little bit of tinted or clear lip gloss.

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pply a fire red, wine or pink coloured lipstick pairing it with soft shimmery eyes.

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atural Beauty

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f you are not into bold colours and like to stay in the natural zone have no fear because you will be trendy as well. Natural makeup is very popular in 2010 so you’ll look gorgeous.

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ry soft peach tones, pink tones or lavender, depending on your complexion. Apply a little 9


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“NEW” - Ask the chef!

Welcome to the new culinary column by Chef Anthony, personal chef and owner of “the holy lemon”. Chef Anthony was classically trained at Le Cordon Bleu London and every month will be answering questions you may have regarding food and cooking. He will help build a great repertoire of wonderful easy recipes to impress friends and family. So, if you have any questions or simply need help in the kitchen email Chef Anthony at goodfood@theholylemon.com and he will help out, hey you might even find your question in this column… fame at last! So this month, it really has to be something for the holiday season and I have chosen Goose (or Oca in Spain) because I love it and my family and I always have goose every Christmas! When I first came to Spain goose was impossible to find and I always had mine imported, but now they can be ordered from most good butchers and even some supermarkets! There are several ways to cook goose but I have gone for my favourite, roast goose with chestnut & prune stuffing served with a port gravy (please email me for the recipes for the stuffing and port gravy... trust me you should!) OK.. so what will you need to look for? Always look for a nice fatty goose with plenty of fat around the legs (the dripping will make the best roast potatoes you have ever had).

Ok, so let’s cook a goose… Try to buy a 5.4kg Goose ideally, as this will have a good amount of meat and will serve around 10. 1. Pre-heat the oven to 200C/400F 2. Remove any giblets and reserve for the gravy 3. Prick the goose, especially around the legs with a skewer and rub with salt 4. Stuff the goose with stuffing and close off the end with a large cooking apple 5. Cover the legs with spare fat from inside the bird and then wrap double fold foil around each leg. 6. Line a large roasting tin with enough foil to make a parcel of the goose. Place the goose on a trivet in the roasting tin and wrap the goose up 7. Place the goose in the oven and allow 15mins per 0.45kg plus 20mins, (therefore 3 ½ hours for 5.4kg) 8. After the 1st hour baste the goose and make sure that the skin is not burning 9. For the last 30-45 mins uncover (but not the legs) and allow to brown and baste again 10. Once cooked remove from the oven and allow resting for at least 20mins before carving, keep it covered. I’m sure you will love this as much as my family and I do and we would just like to wish you all a Merry Christmas from everyone at “the holy lemon”. Look out for our new range of traditional puddings such as sticky toffee in the new year!

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The “Mercadillo Cultural” located on and around the campo de futbol in Los Carlos, began in Spring 2009 and is more than just a Car Boot Sale! The collaboration between residents and the ayuntamiento de Lujar intended the event to be as much of a social occasion as a standard market. You will find a large variety of articles, both new and old, artisan and food stuffs too but most noticeable is the atmosphere. Even though it is in it´s early stages of development you will always find a friendly “Buzz” which as the event gets larger the promoters are hoping will turn into a ‘cacophony.’ The administration have added a festive theme to the Christmas market and look forward to seeing you. Mercadillo de Los Carlos - 2nd Sunday of Every month., 10am – 2pm - Info mercadillo@hotmail.co.uk Telephone - 958 656904 Ambienza are helping us keep warm with some delicious ‘Winter Warmer’ drinks now the weather has finally turned chilly. Get cosy on the sofas and enjoy Cinnamon Cappuccinos, Hazlenut Lattes, Pomegranate Tea with Rum, White Hot Chocolate ‘Snowballs’ and more with yummy cakes and cookies. The Sunday Carvery is now running too. Roast RibEye Beef with all the trimmings is on the menu every week, and other Meats, Vegetarian options, Seasonal Vegetables and Desserts vary each week. For the 19th & 20th December it switches to Christmas Dinner – remember to reserve your table fast! The first ‘Guest Chef Night’ is very soon with Chef Heather Roscoe creating a ‘one night only’ menu. In effect, its like getting a new restaurant to enjoy that’s only open for one night. They’ll email you the menu so you can see what delights she’s going to be preparing before you book. Call - 958 771 381 12

What’s On December - Casa Del Cafe Albondón Sat 5th Dec - Market Day Weds 9th Dec - “Fish N Chip” Night Cod in Batter, Chips, Mushy Peas and desert just €6 - Please book Thurs 24th - Christmas Eve - Mulled Wine & Mince Pies, Dance the night away Fri 25th - Christmas Day Closed. Thur 31st - 8.30 - 10.30 Happy hour all drinks €1 (exc pints) Call - 958 826 603 Ho Ho Ho !!!! Santa will be visiting the Cueva De Aladdin at 2.30 on 18th December. On 3rd & 18th it is market day in Cadiár. On 3rd Cueva De Aladdin will be hosting a Bring and Buy Sale with proceeds going to the local school. They will be closed 20th December and re-open 3rd January for a well earned rest and would like to wish their customers a Happy Christmas and New year and than them for their support for the charities. Call - 958 850 903 La Herradura Riding centre will be open every day (except Christmas Day) over the festive period. Gift vouchers are available, these can be for a one off beginners lesson, a ride out in mountains, rivers and beaches or a course of lessons. Its up to you, and rides are available for all levels and ages.


For more information call Karen on 660 231 325 or visit their website www,herraduraridingcentre.com T.O.T.S Xmas Present ! - Special offer Discounts from December 1st 2009 - January 31st 2010 Rental of any 2 items - 15 % discount

31st New Years Eve - 8pm - till Late Unlimited Buffet, Cava & Grapes - limited spaces €10 Pre Booked only 1st Jan - 1.00 - 3.00pm Hangover cure. Full English Breakfasts being served, free glass of Bucks Fizz. Bookings advised due to demand.

Rental of 3 or more items - 25 % discount Please see web site for product images and prices www.toddlersontourspain.com

1st Jan 7pm - till Late, Food served from 7pm

Or phone Sarah on 958622499 /687102912 . free delivery, Motril and Salobreña areas . (nominal charge - further afield)

La Bamba in La Herradura are now taking bookings for Christmas Day Lunch. Price just €16 per person for 3 Courses.

This offer supercedes any previous offers.

On 23rd December they are holding a Childrens Christmas party between 2pm and 6pm where Santa will be popping in to meet the kids.

El Padrinos in Salobreña has recently undergone refurbishment, call in to see their new image. They will be open over the holiday period (exc 2327th inc). On New years Eve they have an Early Firework Display, Drinks offers, their usual menu and Free cava & grapes at midnight. Hungry? Like Pizza? Then become pizza eating champion at the competition on Friday 22nd January. Pub & Restaurant El Padrino - 958 612 319 or 699 245 133 Northgate Information Solutions have yet more vacancies to fill at their offices in Granada. This month they have positions for HR Co-ordinator, Finance Manager and Balance Sheet Account. The Balance sheet accountant has a salary of up to €45,000 For more information see advert on page 7.

For bookings call 650 921 132 or 620 676 843

On Christmas Eve between 9 and 11pm there is Free Beer!! On News Years Eve they will be open till VERY late. New Years Day they have a special 3 Course meal for €16 per person. For more information or to make a reservation call 958 827 167 or 645 090 457 Drogueria Rosa in Castell De Ferro has an even larger selection of Perfumes, Fragrances, Gift Sets, Cosmetics and gifts this Christmas. Pop in and browse around. They also stock, the latest beauty products, fashion Jewellery and loads of gift ideas for all the family to suit all budgets. All purchases are gift wrapped free of charge.

FREE RETURN FLIGHTS TO UK !!! Yes it is true, Jet2 Airline are running a competition to win free return flights for 2 people. All you need to do is email your answer for a chance to win. For competition details see their advert on page 21. Cafe Bar Garcia - What’s on Christmas/New Year 24th Christmas Eve - 7pm till late. Happy hour 7-9pm with all drinks 1/2 price!! Food available from 7pm. 25th Christmas Day - Closed 26th & 27th Dec 7pm till late, Food served from 7pm 28th -30th Closed 13


Peter and Nina welcome you to Hamper’s. We are delighted to offer you British and International food. We will be stocking a wide variety of your favourite Christmas treats including Mince Pies, Christmas Cakes, Christmas Puddings, Selection of Tinned Sweets, Joints of Meat to order, Turkey Crowns , New Zealand Leg of Lamb and Scottish Roast Beef. We have limited amount of Goose and duck fat and all types of Paxo Stuffing including Chestnut and Cranberry, apple and lemon. Cheese selections and Carrs Water biscuits. We would like to thank all our customers for supporting us in our new venture and wish them all a very happy Christmas and a prosperous news year. Call 659 847 302 Do you need a special present for Christmas? Be inspired by the Jewellery that is handmade by Lesley Furber, who works mainly in Sterling Silver but also uses Copper, 9ct Gold and semi-precious stones in her designs. Unique and beautiful pieces with prices to suit everyone. View the whole range of Lesley’s jewellery at www.lalunadeplata.co.uk, where there is also a quality, inexpensive range of lovely Tibetan jewellery for sale. Lesley lives near Castell de Ferro and you can contact her by e-mail at lesley@lalunadeplata.co.uk or on her mobile 692 847 082. Brighten up your room for Christmas Beautifully woven handmade rugs do not just add elegance to your home décor but brighten up the surroundings adding a breath of luxury. Interior designers know that the key to pulling a room together is the addition of a special rug, which can take a room from dull to bold in an instant. Rugs are not simply floor coverings they are versatile and decorative items. They can replace for example, a framed painting or a large picture on the wall, or accentuate a piece of furniture or appliance, or even the whole room! Woven Wonders based in the Lecrin Valley, special14

ise in Indian cotton handmade rugs which are available in a variety of sizes, colours and designs both contemporary and traditional. For more information and to arrange a viewing with a glass of mulled wine contact www.wovenwonders. eu or ring 958 793 706 It’s Chriiiiiistmas!! Well Almost! All of us at El Dragon Rojo, Dylan, Aroa, Jonnie and Sheila, would like to wish all our customers a Very Happy Christmas and a Wonderful New Year. Our chefs have worked unbelievably hard and are frequently coming up with new ideas and additions to the menu. The latest being our Chinese Hot Pot which is a method of cooking your own food at the table from a selection of raw meat, seafood and vegetables. We’ve had brilliant feedback from all those who have tried it and if you’re not one of them get on down here and get stuck in! It’s great fun! Look out for the special promotions we’ll be running in the coming months, half priced drinks with your meal, kids eat for free etc. Keep your eyes on the boards for these. For those of you who don’t fancy all the fuss and washing up on Christmas Day let us do it all for you. For only 30 Euros per head you can enjoy a proper traditional Christmas lunch with a complimentary bucks fizz on arrival, either turkey or beef with all the trimmings and sauces followed by Christmas pud or mince pies or Christmas cake or all three! Give us a ring or call in with a small deposit to secure your booking. Tel 958656552 we’d love to see you. We will be open at lunchtime on Christmas Eve but closed in the evening. Christmas Day will be Christmas lunch reserved tables only. We’ll also be closed in the evening


on New Years Eve and all day on New Years Day. Legends - Salobreña are celebrating their 1st Anniversary on the 19th December with live music from Not To Fall and a free buffet. Call to reserve your space. Christmas Eve evening they have live music from Alabama. On Christmas Day there is a 5 course Christmas Lunch for just €20 per person and New Years Eve they have Live Music and a Buffet. To bring in 2010 they have grapes, cava, a wee dram and Bagpipes. The cost is €10 per person. If you book both Christmas Lunch and New years Eve they have an offer price of €28 - bookings essential for all dates. Call - 687 628 223 Costalotless but in demand - Within 36 hours of our first advert in this magazine we had our first enquiry. It seems that there is a demand for transportation of goods around the costa tropical region. Having been in the transport business for 20 yrs, we understand the necessity to treat each contract as unique. Our experience will ensure that the requisite questions are asked and we can advise on any aspect of your removal requirements. Whilst receiving many requests of local transportation, we also have received a number of enquiries for transporting goods to and from the UK. This is an avenue that we are more than happy to forefill and will run to the UK approximately every 3 months. Many of the requests are for single items from Christmas puddings to pasteing tables. We are now looking at animal transportation to and have made our application for “defra” registration. This should be on stream mid February. We will be running as normal over Christmas with the exceptions of Christmas day and New Years day. Call - 680 491 335

Carols by Candlelight with mulled wine and mince pies. FTK, Calle Blas Enfante (near bigger Supersol) 958 658 439 Tuesday 22nd December 7pm Almuñécar English Carols by Candlelight with mulled wine and mince pies, El Faro, Plaza de las Magnolias. 958 881 358 Friday 25th December 11am Almuñécar Christmas Day service – phone for directions 647 279 326 Almuñecar International School We are nearly at the end of the winter term and are delighted how successful and happy it has been. 86% of our pupils got 5 or more GCSE passes, most of them had 9 or more, and 100% passed their A level, all getting in to the universities of their choice. Term started this year with about 280 pupils and a stable staff. Primary is full in all but one class, we have a Sixth Form of over 30 and there are very few spaces in Secondary. The work ethic is high and we are delighted by the dedication and hard work of our students. 20 Year 9 studnets have just taken the first part of their GCSE Science examinations. This term secondary pupils have visited Malaga for History and Geography and have made some coastal studies. Primary students have a full regular programme of outings. Nest term we have 3 school journeys for Secondary. The Sixth Form are visiting London on a combined English/ Media/ History/ Business Studies trip, Years 8 and 9 and Sport Science students are skiing in the Sierra Nevada and the Spanish Department have an ambitious trip planned to Avila, Salamanca, Segovia and Madrid. Pupils have been fundraising for various causes this term 700 Euros were raised for a small child in Torrox who needs treatment in the US for a brain tumour (See the Fletcher campaign). A Ladies Night for parents saw over a hundred ladies enjoying a drink and seeing what 16 local businesses had to offer them. It also raised over 500 Euros for equipment for the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme. Our older pupils were responsible for organising and running both these events and we are impressed by their dedication.

Fellowship of The King - What’s on at Christmas Friday 18th December 7pm Salobreña Youth Club Christmas Musical (in Spanish) FTK, Calle Blas Enfante (near bigger Supersol). 958 658 439 Sunday 20th December 11am Almuñécar Christmas Service, Family Centre (opposite Bar La Granja) Avda Costa del Sol. 958 881 358

We are now looking forward to December with the mixed prospects of the Primary Show for pupils and parents and also the GCSE Mock exams. In January there are module examinations for A level so that our sixth formers will not enjoy as much of a Christmas holiday as the rest of us! I am sure that their results will be worth it! Call - 958 635 911

Sunday 20th December 5.30pm Salobreña English 15


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A Doggy Wonderland

I will not get into a fight with the bigger dog next door, making my human have to call the vet’s at Christmas.

Dog tags ring, are you listenin’? In the lane, snow is glistenin’. It’s yellow, NOT white - I’ve been there tonight, Marking up my winter wonderland.

I will not get tangled up in the Christmas tree lights and pull the tree down while trying to get at a cat through the conservatory window.

Smell that tree? That’s my fragrance. It’s a sign for wand’ring vagrants; “Avoid where I pee, it’s MY pro-per-ty! Marked up as my winter wonderland.”

I will not pee on Grandma’s Christmas presents that are under her tree as soon as we enter her house.

In the meadow dad will build a snowman, following the classical design. Then I’ll lift my leg and let it go Man, So all the world will know it’s minemine-mine!

I will not pee on the Christmas tree. I will not steal the neighbor’s Christmas light bulbs.

Straight from me to the fencepost, flows my natural incense boast; “Stay off of my TURF, this small piece of earth, I mark it as my winter wonderland.

The bowl underneath the Christmas tree is not a dog dish. I will not drink from it. It will make me sick.

A Dog’s Christmas Promises

A Cat’s Christmas Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.

Christmas is for humans, and I will not ruin the surprises by opening all their presents. Christmas light bulbs, Christmas ornaments, Christmas stockings, and tinsel from the Christmas tree are not food.

‘Cuz the cat had pounced on him and tore him apartAte his mousey intestines And chewed up his heart.

I will not demolish the Christmas tree and drag the string of lights out into the backyard through the doggy door.

Kitty thought he heard sleigh bells, which made him take pauseHe stopped daintily licking the blood from his claws.

I will not dive into the Christmas tree to get the chocolate decorations (which I will eat -- paper and all). I will not eat my Christmas doggie treats until after they’re out of the stocking!

“Must be Santa” thought Kitty (that quite clever cat) ‘Cuz nobody else climbs down the chimney like that.

I will not even THINK about going underneath the Christmas tree and piddling on the dining room rug. 18


Indeed it was ol’ Santa, so jolly and fat With a load of presents and all for the cat! “Wow, the best Christmas ever!” Kitty thought with a purr, Then he coughed up a hairball and shed some more fur.

Holiday Etiquette for Dogs 1. Be especially patient with your humans during this time. They may appear to be more stressed-out than usual and they will appreciate long comforting dog leans.

- - don’t drink out of glasses that are left within your reach. 6. Likewise, your humans may take you visiting. Here your manners will also be important: - -observe all the rules in #4 for trees that may be in other people’s houses. - - respect the territory of other animals that may live in the house - - tolerate children - - turn on your charm big time. 7. A big man with a white beard and a very loud laugh may emerge from your fireplace in the middle of the night. DON’T BITE HIM!!

2. They may come home with large bags of things they call gifts. Do not assume that all the gifts are yours. 3. Be tolerant if your humans put decorations on you. They seem to get some special kind of pleasure out of seeing how you look with fake antlers. 4. They may bring a large tree into the house and set it up in a prominent place and cover it with lights and decorations. Bizarre as this may seem to you, it is an important ritual for your humans, so there are some things you need to know: - - don’t pee on the tree - - don’t drink water in the container that holds the tree - - mind your tail when you are near the tree - - if there are packages under the tree, even ones that smell interesting or that have your name on them, don’t rip them open - - don’t chew on the cord that runs from the funny-looking hole in the wall to the tree 5. Your humans may occasionally invite lots of strangers to come visit during this season. These parties can be lots of fun, but they also call for some discretion on your part: - - not all strangers appreciate kisses and leans - - don’t eat off the buffet table - - beg for goodies subtly - - be pleasant, even if unknowing strangers sit on your sofa 19


Answers Page 25

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WIN 2 FREE RETURN TICKETS MALAGA - LEEDS MyJet2 rewards loyal customers using a scheme where points are earned from buying flights and others services online. These points can then be redeemed against future flight bookings. Philip Meeson, CEO of Jet2.com commented: “At Jet2. com we are utterly committed to giving our British customers in the UK and now in Spain the best deals and offers and this loyalty programme is another way of rewarding our customers. Put simply, the more flights and other services you buy from Jet2.com online, the more points will be credited to your myJet2 account. These points can then be redeemed against our flights, so it’s a real win-win for our customers.” Each one pound or euro spent on a flight, including fees for taxes, or other online services such as the Jet2Plus, extra leg room or extra baggage, equates to one myJet2 point; points earned are claimed against the base fare stated at Jet2.com. The key to myJet2 is its simplicity: any customer with a UK residential address or a Spanish residential address is eligible for membership and once a member, points are collated automatically online.

To enter the draw for the free tickets, answer this question: What is the name of the Jet2 CEO? Email your answer and jet2@costatropicalnews.com.

contact

details

to

Terms & Conditions: Entries close midnight 30th December. Flights are from Malaga to Leeds. Booking must be prior to March 30th and flights must be taken before June 30th 2010. Tickets may not be exchanged for cash. This offer is not transferable. Please note that concession seats are always strictly subject to availability and we reserve the right not to offer seats on certain flights and dates. Bank and school holidays and dates around major sporting and other events are always excluded. Our normal terms and conditions apply to all bookings. Travel dates remain final upon issue. Booking requests must be made no later than 20 days before travel.

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Winners draw will take place in Cafe Bar Garcia, Castell de Ferro on 31st December. Winners will be notified by email and winners names will be published in the January edition.


Phew… what a scorcher! When the temperature here starts rising just like this, it can surely mean only one thing. That’s right … it’s nearly Christmas time. With our “upside-down” calendar of seasons in the southern hemisphere, of course, we’re preparing for mid-summer rather than mid-winter. Not that that prevents the many shops, shopping malls and other outlets from putting up yet again the fairly tawdry decorations of snow (surely a joke!), Christmas trees, Santas and tinsel. For someone from the northern climes of Europe, of course, it all seems pretty incongruous – though “pretty” is hardly the word to describe it. Not only that, but the tide of international consumerism only seems to underline how foreign is this whole business of celebrating Christmas in such a way. It’s enough to raise a shake of the head with sympathy for the established Catholic Church in this part of the world, which, naturally, still attempts to tie in the celebrations with an event that took place more than two thousand years ago. Perhaps because it’s a more recent manifestation of commercial imperialism I’m probably even more offended by the outpouring of retail madness that surrounds the last psuedo-religious festival we’ve only just witnessed on the 31st of October; Halloween. Having leaked out of the birthplace of its contemporary, commercial, guise – where else but the United States – black capes, death masks, skeletons and candle-lit pumpkins appear to be as much a childhood craze here as anywhere else in the Americas or England. The grinding consumerism certainly gets you down after a while and was almost enough this year to have me signing up to the Spanish Bishops’ Episcopal Conference, which roundly condemned the widespread popularity of Halloween – which it blamed on Hollywood movies – protesting that it threatened to overshadow the Christian festival of All Saints’ Day. In a comment that could apply even more aptly to this part of the southern hemisphere, one of the bishops complained that the celebration of Halloween is a foreign and pagan import, which is hardly as innocent as many would like to make out. Instead, the craze for children to “dress as witches, vampires, ghosts, corpses and skeletons” and parents to encourage “elements of death”, said the cleric, served to underline the festival’s origins in “the occult and antiChristianity”. The conference of bishops urged a return to Christian celebrations of All Saints’ Day, where families should be encouraged to visit the graves of loved ones in a “festival that encourages life and not death” so that children can “discover the value of life and goodness, and not promote death”.

It’s not often that you’ll hear me admit it, but for once, on this particular topic, I’d probably rather throw in my hand with the Catholic Church than those on the Halloween bandwagon. As things are at the moment – and I can’t see them changing any time soon – the long, hot summers here begin with the marketing for Halloween. As soon as that’s done and dusted, then it’s time for the splurge that is Christmas, only to be followed hot on its heels in February with the abandonment (and more merchandising, of course) that is Carnival. The last, I’ll admit to enjoying, not least because that celebration, at least, seems to “belong” to the country and remains a spontaneous party for all that the country offers. I say this without great reservation, even though the onset of summer’s heat has also brought on the usual spectacular thunder storms recently and the fall-out from the storms has raised questions about the country’s infrastructure. Here, in one of the largest cities on earth, we weathered a four-hour power failure. Now, power cuts are not unheard of just about anywhere on the planet. What made this one particular news is that it managed to turn off the lights – not to mention lifts, cookers, traffic-signals, air-conditioning and the like – for some 60 million people, or about one in three of the population, in what is a huge country geographically. The whole of neighbouring Paraguay was completely without electricity for the entire black-out. The reason for such widespread commotion is the country’s reliance on one major hydroelectric scheme (the second largest in the world), at Itaipu, to supply the national grid. Storms appear to have knocked out a vital transformer near the border with Paraguay and two other transmission lines went down in response to an automatic safety cut-off mechanism. Apart from the normal worries about being left in the dark for so long, fears were also expressed about the country’s image abroad with the World Cup to be hosted here in 2014 and the Olympic Games just two years later. In addition, the power failures exposed the unpreparedness at some hospitals and delays in restoring power through emergency generators, whilst most of the population stayed indoors through a fear of increased violent crime during the darkness (though little more than usual was in fact reported). This latest episode marks at least the fourth time since 1985 that failures at Itaipu have led to massive power outages. Nevertheless, it was not so bad as the failure that occurred in 1999, when a lightening strike knocked out an electricity substation and plunged some 97 million inhabitants into darkness for up to five hours. Merry Christmas

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Surviving Christmas

“A turkey dinner can actually be a healthy dinner, if you cut down on the potatoes and load up with vegetables.

Christmas comes but once a year and it’s a time to eat drink and be merry, but as the parties start so does the temptation to overindulge on both food and alcohol.

“Most of us would tend to binge on Christmas Day but if you think over the longer period and try to keep your carbohydrates down it’s better for you.”

So is it possible to enjoy the Christmas festivities without suffering from an expanding waistline?

A

lternate healthy days One trick that works for Sally is the one day on, one day off option.

Sally Whitcombe, a dietician from Gloucester, believes it is and shares with us her top tips on how to stay healthy over the Christmas period.

“Some people will look at their diary and see what work do’s they have in the run up to Christmas and they’ll eat a lot on that day but cut back on the following day.

E

at, drink and be healthy “Believe it or not it is possible to over indulge slightly but also stay healthy,” said Sally.

“If you eat something healthy like a salad or a stirfry that cleanses the body, then it prepares you for the next onslaught the following day. It’s like a mini detox in-between.”

“I think a lot of people end up feeling rotten at Christmas, when you get that sluggish feeling when you know you’ve over indulged and your energy levels go down and you feel like you need a detox.” “One of the things to realise is to know what actually puts the weight on, which a lot of people misunderstand. People think it’s just fat, and think that by avoiding fatty food they will avoid weight gain, but in fact it’s carbohydrates that put on most of the weight. “ Sally Whitcombe

W

ho’s at risk? There is no particular type of person prone to weight gain but exercise is a key factor in keeping unwanted weight off. Sally said: “Anybody is at risk who doesn’t exercise much and who regularly eats a lot of carbohydrates, increases the intake of them and adds the alcohol.

On average people gain the equivalent of two bags of sugar in weight, approximately four and a half pounds, in the four weeks over the festive period, and Sally thinks the problem is because people are unaware of what they can and can’t eat.

“Smokers are at more risk because the alcohol effects are stronger if you are a smoker. Age doesn’t really affect it but in terms of health it’s mainly dependent on exercise.”

“One of the things to know is what actually puts the weight on, which a lot of people misunderstand.

So what can we do if we want to avoid the post Christmas bulge?

“People think it’s just fat, and think that by avoiding fatty food they will avoid weight gain, but in fact it’s carbohydrates that put on most of the weight.

“If you are coming up to Christmas rather than let the stress stop you exercising try and keep that up, go to the gym, go for a walk and prepare yourself for the possible overindulgence at Christmas.” Sally Whitcombe

“It’s actually the overindulgence of the mince pies, the crisps, the cakes, and biscuits that are the biggest problem.”

“Taking a nice brisk walk can do wonders and help make you feel refreshed.

H

ealthy options According to Sally even the traditional Christmas dinner can be a healthy option.

“Coming up to Christmas, rather than let the stress stop you exercising try and keep that up - go to the

26


* nuts and seeds which are protein rich.

gym, go for a walk and prepare yourself for the possible overindulgence at Christmas.”

“Lots of people are scared of nuts because they think they’re fattening but they contain loads of things that speed up the metabolism which helps you lose weight,” continued Sally

Because the festive period can be quite a long time of overeating and drinking, Sally suggests a bit of planning is what is needed to keep your waistline in check.

W

hat not to eat! The temptations at Christmas are everywhere but what try and avoid all those chocolate treats.

“Just think about what’s healthy and what’s not. For example if I know I’m going to be going to a lot of buffets, they usually have a mix of things that just sit in your stomach, doesn’t go down and ferments. So if you get to the buffet early you can go for the salads, raw vegetables, dips and cheese rather than solid stuff like sandwiches, sausage rolls and other pastry based food types.”

“If your body is strained from overindulging at Christmas anyway then chocolate will only add to the problem. “

L

“Chocolates can be a problem because they are loaded with sugar and additives unless they’re organic. The cocoa bean is the most sprayed crop on the planet so you may enjoy it but you’re getting a high cocktail of chemicals which your body has to deal with.

According to Sally “When your blood sugar is high you produce more of the hormone insulin, which is a fat storing hormone. So if you can keep your blood sugar levels even then that helps, and one of the tricks for doing that is to eat more protein.

“If your body is strained from overindulging at Christmas anyway then chocolate will only add to the problem.”

ook after your blood Another trick for a healthier Christmas is to keep your blood sugar as even as possible.

O

ne drink or two? OK so we all know food and nibbles aren’t the only temptations at Christmas. So what about the dreaded alcoholic haze that can often creep up on us at Christmas?

“Many people will go hours without eating protein until late in the evening, which causes havoc to their blood sugar levels. “If you add to that the general Christmas stress and pressures which increases the hormone Cortisol, then this throws more sugar into the blood, which in turn produces more insulin, which in turn stores fat.”

A

lcohol - Avoid the hangover this Christmas! Sally offers us a few words of wisdom: “If you’re going out boozing don’t go out on an empty stomach. Have a small snack with protein or complex carbohydrates before you go out.

“The trick for ongoing weight loss, or should I say weight management, is to learn to keep your blood sugar balanced through diet, then you can help yourself enormously and keep the weight off.”

“Also try and sip a bit of orange juice between drinks and make sure before you go to bed at night you drink lots of water to rehydrate yourself.”

W

So it seems the key to a good Christmas is still to eat, drink and be merry - just do it in moderation.

hat to eat? Think healthy and BE healthy this Christmas by eating lots of fruit, vegetable and protein.

M

Good sources of are protein: * meat * fish which is easier on the digestion than red meat

27

erry Christmas everyone!


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The USB Prankster is highly annoying, but it’ll never activate the ‘enter’ key or close or save documents, so it’s mostly mischievous, not super-dangerous. However, it probably shouldn’t be used on computers that control nuclear reactors, security systems for genetically recreated dinosaur parks and/or zombie experimentation units, captured alien spacecraft or freezers packed with delicious ice cream. The Squid is the solution to shampoo, shower gels and other bathroom bottles and containers that are forever falling and clattering into the bath or shower, or braining you as you enjoy your morning ablutions. It’s a rubber mat, covered on both sides with suction cup that stick solidly to the tiled bathroom wall and holds everything in place like magic. Ingenious and very practical, this blue mat (19.5cm x 8cm) is covered in small suction cups on both sides - just position it on any flat, non-porous, clean surface in your shower cubicle and be safe in the knowledge that your containers are secure. Bathroom piece of mind comes at a very reasonable price. 30

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Spain’s “autonomous communities” By Peter Webb I don’t know if it’s just me, but Extremadura is one of those names which doesn’t immediately fly off the page as one of the top five most extensive autonomous communities of Spain. But such is the case with the autonomous community of Extremadura. Yet it’s certainly a big enough land area (the fifth biggest of all the communities), though admittedly sparsely populated – only 2.5% of the country’s total population or 12th in terms of all the communities’ inhabitants. The relative obscurity is also belied by the name itself – roughly meaning “extreme border” – in both a literal and figurative sense. The province is hard 34

up against the western border of central Portugal and the name was also used to describe the final frontier of Christendom during a particular phase of the Reconquest of Spain. Its meaning is similar in many ways to the use of the word “marches” – as in the “Welsh Marches” – to describe the borderlands between England and Wales. This is the word that spread through much of Europe and gave rise to the landed title of Marquess (in English), Marquis (in French or, indeed, Scottish), or machioness or marquise in the case of female nobility. Extremadura, then, is a geographically large, sparsely populated province, historically on one


of Spain’s furthest boundaries. Add to this a fairly unwelcoming climate which can see summertime temperatures topping the 26°C average to reach 40°C and it is possible perhaps to understand rather better why the province fails to feature prominently in many regular tourist guides. One of the great benefits of its being a sparsely populated province at the heart of the Iberian Peninsula, however, is that Extremadura has become an important home to several national parks for the preservation of its unique geography, flora and fauna. The biggest and most recently designated of these is the Parque Nacional Monfragüe. Also recognised (since 2003) by UNESCO as a Biosphere reserve, the park lies to the north ofTrujillo and runs in a broadly east-west direction along the Tagus River valley. A feature is a long mountainous ridge, which the river has cut through, creating on the western side an impressive rock face, the Penafalcon. On the eastern side lies a castle, Castillo Monfragüe. The River Tietar enters the park from the north-east and joins the Tagus just to the east of Penafalcon. There is only one village in the whole of the national park, and that goes by the name of Villareal de San Carlos – with a population of just 28 souls! Although deer and wild boar live in the park, it is especially known for its impressive colonies of breeding birds of prey, or raptors. This includes the largest breeding concentration of the Eurasian Black Vulture, many pairs of Griffon Vulture and established pairs of the Spanish Imperial Eagle, Golden Eagle and Bonelli’s Eagle. The park is also reknowned for its Black Storks, Eurasian Eagle Owls and Azure-winged Magpies. It is also one of the few European homes to breeding pairs of White-rumped Swift. Large parts of Extremadura are also populated by the wild or semi-wild Black Iberian pig, which can be seen snuffling for acorns among the numerous oak groves of the region. In fact, the pigs are responsible for many of the simple, basic, countryside fare of the region’s cuisine – in particular, the cured ham known as jamón ibérico. For the more venturesome, there is also the popular dish of tripe with pig’s trotters called callos con manos de cerdo. Dishes such as these are typical of the inexpensive recipes known to largely peasant populations. They might be cheap to prepare, but they are cooked in large pots, so that they can eas-

ily be shared with family, friends, neighbours and visitors alike. Many of these staples also make use of mutton or lamb, such as caldereta de cordero (mutton stew), cabrito en cuchifrito, frite de cordero (mutton fry) and cabrito a la hortelana (lamb stew with vegetable. The richest of all these, however, is likely to be the Extremaduran variant of a dish found in other parts of Spain, but given a distinctively regional taste. This is the chanfaina, a thick stew of mutton liver, brain, heart and kidneys cooked with a mixture of bay leaves, garlic, bread crumbs and boiled eggs. As befitting a people living close to the land in frequently harsh conditions, however, the traditional dishes of Extremadura also include many other well-known and less widely used meats. Thus, there is the cocido extremeño stew made from chicken, but also arroz com liebre (rice with hare) and ancas de ranas fritas (fried frogs legs), together with two popular fish dishes tenchas fritas (fried tench) and truchas con jamón (trout with ham). There is even a regional speciality which incorporates the meat of a large lizard, lagarto con tomate, which is made by frying slices of the lizard in olive oil and then stewing the meat together with tomatoes and onions over a slow fire in an earthenware pot. Although most of the staples of Extremaduran cooking involve meats of one kind or another, chick peas and beans are regularly used to bulkup dishes or to serve on their own, such as in the widely known potaje de garbanzos y judías blancas (chick pea and bean soup). Other commonly used ingredients include potatoes, pumpkin, chestnuts, onions and bell peppers. So, if you are one of the relatively few tourists or visitors to Extremadura, it is possible to find a broad spectrum of tastes in the cooking of regional specialities. As you are sitting down to enjoy one of the rustic meals, moreover, you might even get the chance to hear spoken the distinctive language peculiar to Extremadura. Although it is related to the Leonese language to the north, Extremaduran is a seriously endangered tongue, spoken by just a handful of older inhabitants, but taught neither publicly nor privately. Instead, the official – and most widely spoken – language is Spanish, with several dialects of Portuguese being spoken in different parts of the autonomous community. Once again, however, a number of these - now “foreign” – languages are in danger of dying out. 35


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tions. “The music industry has been hugely important to England, bringing in millions. If anyone thinks the X Factor is going to do that, they are wrong.” U2 fined for being too loud Fancy U2 being fined for noise pollution. It is true folks. U2 were whacked a $52,000 fine for being too loud at the Dublin concert last July.

Sting slams karaoke X Factor STING has criticised the X Factor for being “a soap opera which has nothing to do with music”. And the singer said judges like Simon Cowell have “no recognisable talent apart from self-promotion”. Speaking to the Evening Standard, the former Police frontman said the ITV talent show was nothing more than “televised karaoke” and a “preposterous talent show” which has “put music back decades”. He said: “I am sorry but none of those kids are going to go anywhere, and I say that sadly. “The X Factor is a preposterous show and you have judges who have no recognisable talent apart from self-promotion, advising them what to wear and how to look. It is appalling.” He said most of the contestants were left “humiliated when they get sent off” and added: “How appalling for a young person to feel that rejection. It is a soap opera which has nothing to do with music. “The real shop floor for musical talent is pubs and clubs, that is where the original work is. But they are being closed down on a daily basis. It is impossible to put an act on in a pub. It has become too expensive through excessive regula38

Dublin City Council slapped the fine of their very own favourite sons for 12 breaches over three nights. Residents in the nearby area complained of disruptions when the crew took about 44 hours to dismantle the stage. Rihanna refuses $10,000 bottle of champagne Rihanna sent back a $10,000 bottle of champagne because she didn’t know the people who had bought it for her. The ‘Umbrella’ singer was partying at Los Angeles nightclub The Bank at Wonderland when American Football Braylon Edwards and his teammates sent the expensive drink over to her table. However, Rihanna refused to accept the gift because she had no idea who they were. One partygoer said: “She didn’t know who they were, so she sent it back.” While Rihanna is bought drinks when she goes


out, Kiefer Sutherland buys his fans a beverage. The ‘24’ actor stunned bar staff when he bought all of their customers a drink after he and some crew members of the hit US drama series popped into The Spot in San Pedro, California, after finishing a shoot at seven in the morning. According to an employee, Kiefer was enjoying scotch and cokes and decided to buy everyone in the venue - about 30 people - leaving him with a $500 bar bill. He then gave staff an impressive $200 tip when he left. Frankie Goes To Hollywood Frankie Say Greatest Its 25 years since Frankie Goes To Hollywood first released ‘Relax’. Initially it was selling OK, then Mike Reid took offence, and the rest is history. To celebrate this quarter century of controversy a definitive greatest hits album has been released. The collection includes all their hits (which actually aren’t that many – a career built on half a dozen tracks – impressive if you can get away with it!!), and does include some rare mixes, as well as some 2009 makeovers of ‘Relax’. This collection does also include some rare tracks and b-sides which are more than padding; ‘Get It On’ and ‘Born to Run’ both work well with Frankie’s sound, and tracks like ‘Our Silver Turns to Gold’ are undiscovered gems. With regards the mixes the 16 minute (yes really) Sex Mix of Relax is actually remarkably good, as is Scott Stoch’s heavier bassed and bpm’d mix. The 2009 Lockout mix of Relax is also a good updated version, with a modern feel to it, whereas Chicane’s version is perhaps a bit lazier. ‘Rage Hard’ is also sounding great still; a travesty this didn’t score a higher chart position at the time.

This is a stunning collection. Whilst there have been various hits collections before this truly does seem definitive, and a true collection of surprise extras. Alexandra Burke Overcome X-Factor winners always have a challenge after winning. The winning song is Xmas number 1, then oblivion for 9 – 10 months, following which we are supposed to all welcome them back, whilst at the same time concentrating on this year’s X-Factor That said, Alexandra Burke has bounced back with a storming Number 1, with more than a leaning towards capturing the US market, both with the song and video. After all, Leona has been very successful in the US, and ultimately that’s where the big bucks are (literally). Bad Boys is a competent single, but can ‘Overcome’ live up to both Alexandra’s X-Factor hype, and perhaps also Leona’s post X-Factor success? The answer is probably yes, as ‘Overcome’ is a very (very) polished album, with huge chunks of production ensuring it is a monster offering. Perhaps at times this is overdone, but ultimately ‘Overcome’ enables Alexandra to show case a variety of musical styles. ‘Good Night, Good morning’ adds a drum n bass beat, whilst ‘The Silence’, Gotta Go’ and ‘They Don’t Know’ head into Leona talent, and very competently at that. Alexandra does have a huge power ballad voice that works well especially on The Silence – future single? ‘Hallelujah’ is added at the end, and still sounds good, but Jeff Buckley still wins this one for me. ‘Overcome’ is a very competent album, and well worth the wait. Alexandra does have a great vocal range and style and has delivered some big tunes here. I think her success is assured for a few more years yet.

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Probably the question I am asked more than any other as a Christian minister is, “How can there be a good God when there is so much suffering in the world?” Wilder’s novel was his personal attempt to delve into this basic human concern. Christmas has to be part of my personal attempt to answer that same question. Wilder didn’t have all of the answers. I don’t have all of the answers. But we have both seen that it just won’t do to look on life as a closed system of cause and effect in which God is either a petty schoolmaster who minutely weights guilt against merit or an absentee deity who cares not a whit about his creatures.

The Coolest Season My daughter has just bought herself a T-shirt that has emblazoned across it “Christmas is the coolest season”. Once upon a time a majority of us would have agreed with her. True, there have always been Ebenezers for whom it is all just humbug; but most would have welcomed the “season of good cheer”. However all that has changed; is changing. Partly because of the rampant commercialism that has increasingly buried Christmas for a century or more. Partly because of the sickly-sweet sentimentalisation that has reduced the stark accounts of the nativity to a children’s fairy tale. Partly because of a rejection of Christianity as the predominant belief-system in the West. Thus Christmas has become a season detached from it roots, adrift from its true meaning. A round of parties and spending sprees looking for some justification. I certainly have no desire to see it imposed upon an unwilling public; but let’s not try to pretend that all along Christmas was really something else, be that yuletide, diwali, the winter solstice or some even more esoteric long forgotten but newly remembered festival. Neither do I make any apology for my celebrating, yes, really celebrating Christmas. More years ago than I care to remember, whilst at uni, I read Thornton Wilder’s classic Pulitzer-Prize-winning novel The Bridge of the San Luis Rey. The plot is deceptively simple: on 20th July, 1714, “the finest bridge in all Peru” collapses and five people die. Brother Juniper, a Franciscan monk, happens to witness the tragedy, and as a result, he asks the central question of the novel: “Why did this happen to them?” He sets out to examine the lives of the five victims, in order to see if there was an identifiable reason why, specifically, these five people died. When Wilder explained his reasons for writing the novel he said he wanted to explore the question, “Is there a direction and meaning in lives beyond the individual’s own will?” 40

So what has Christmas to do with collapsing bridges? Only this: the detail of the Christmas story is not the stuff of tinsel-town, rather it is the stuff of earthy, personal hardship and crisis. The Christian claim is outrageously bold – that God himself was so deeply affected by the landscape of human tragedy and suffering that he chose to get involved – personally. His point of entry was Christmas. Not with privilege and pomp nor yet super-powers and a safety net. Rather by being born into a simple, poor family of outcasts in a country occupied by an oppressive conqueror. Mud and manure, distress and deprivation, homelessness and hardship were the lot of this family and the perspective on human life that God chose to enter and experience. He didn’t suspend the natural running of the universe; to do so would have made life an unpredictable lottery of unknowable outcomes that could only work in a cartoon fantasy world. So although our world remains an arena of suffering and injustice, God, at least, is on our side. He knows and understands because he has been there. He knows the agony of injustice and exile, of bereavement and even that of losing a dearly beloved innocent child. As Wilder explained about his novel, God’s concern for people is more all-encompassing and powerful than any circumstance – however tragic it may be - and the wonder of Christmas is that it is God’s way of showing that he wants to be there for us – whatever it costs. So I am looking forward to celebrating Christmas with my family; cards and presents, turkey and mince pies, mulled wine and Christmas pudding – none of these are the essence of Christmas, though I shall enjoy them all. The essence of Christmas is far more significant – we are not alone in a hostile universe; we are at home with a God who really does care enough to get involved, for that is who Jesus, the Christ, is. That’s who and what I’ll really celebrate this Christmas. May you and yours know the true joy of this season too. Leslie Thomas


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What are the odds of that? The poinsettia, traditionally a Christmas flower, originally grew in Mexico; where it was known as the “Flower of the Holy Night” and contrary to common belief, poinsettia plants are non-toxic. Hospitals reported 4 broken arms last year after cracker pulling accidents. Three people die each year testing if a 9v battery works on their tongue. Five people were injured last year in accidents involving out of control Scalextric cars. Eight people cracked their skull in 1997 after falling asleep while throwing up into the toilet. Eighteen people had serious burns in 1998 trying on a new jumper with a lit cigarette in their mouth. Nineteen people have died in the last 3 years believing that Christmas decorations were chocolate. Thirty one people have died since 1996 by watering their Christmas tree while the fairy lights were plugged in. Fifty eight people are injured each year by using sharp knives instead of screwdrivers. One hundred and one people since 1997 have had to have broken parts of plastic toys pulled out of the soles of their feet. One hundred and forty two people were injured in 1998 by not removing all pins from new shirts. Five hundred and forty three people were admitted to A&E in the last two years after opening bottles of beer with their teeth. It is estimated that 400,000 people become sick each year from eating tainted Christmas leftovers The songs “Jingle Bells”, “Winter Wonderland”, and “Sleighride” have something in common - None of them mentions Christmas.

The first British monarch to broadcast a Christmas message to his people was King George V. The Christmas tree displayed in Trafalgar square in London is an annual gift to the UK from Norway since 1947. The Norwegian spruce given is a token of appreciation of British friendship during World War II from the Norwegian people. Every time a man kisses a girl under the mistletoe one of the berries is supposed to removed. Once all the berries are gone no more kisses may be claimed. According to a 1995 survey, 7 out of 10 British dogs get Christmas gifts from their doting owners. “Hot cockles” was a popular game at Christmas in medieval times. It was a game in which the other players took turns striking the blindfolded player, who had to guess the name of the person delivering each blow. “Hot cockles” was still a Christmas pastime until the Victorian era. After “A Christmas Carol,” Charles Dickens wrote several other Christmas stories, one each year, but none was as successful as the original. In 1958 the No.1 song on Christmas Day was ‘The Chipmunk Song’ by David Seville (Ross Bagdasarian) as sung by Alvin, Simon and Theodore (the Three Chipmunks). No other Christmas song has ever been No.1in the U.S. on Christmas Day. In 1377 at the Christmas feast of King Richard II of England, 28 oxen and 300 sheep were consumed. The majority of families (90%) around the UK consider turkey a Christmas tradition. According to the British Turkey Information Service, UK residents consumed 10 million turkeys in 2000 for Christmas, along with 25 million Christmas puddings, 250 million pints of beer and 35 million bottles of wine.

More diamonds are purchased at Christmas-time (31 percent) than during any other holiday or occasion during the year.

In ancient Rome, people hung decorative wreaths as sign of victory. The hanging of Christmas wreath seems to have derived from this. Denoting the victory of God over Satan with Jesus’ birth into the world.

The movie “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” (2000) features more than 52,000 Christmas lights, about 8,200 Christmas ornaments, and nearly 2,000 candy canes.

“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”was introduced in the Broadway musical “Meet Me in St. Louis”.

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‘Twas the night before Christmas,

They couldn’t remember and Melchior was to blame;

when all through España

For it was he who suggested stopping for a beer,

Nothing was stirring, not even the caña;

And now they knew not why they were here.

The Spanish were all tucked up in their houses,

It all seemed so simple as they entered the bar,

Except all the ones cheating on spouses;

“How difficult can it be to follow a star?”

The adults were stuffing themselves with meats,

The TV was on and showing Barcelona, Whilst Gaspar ordered the Whiskeys and Cola,

While the kids all filled their faces with sweets;

The voices were raised and the ref was a ba***rd,

With mama, papa, tio and tia, Talking so loud that no-one could hear,

As Baltasar, Gaspar and Melchior got plastered.

When out in the street they heard a tyre squeal,

“Time to leave we have a job in hand”

The Grandson had arrived for the family meal.

Gasper said but could barely stand.

The party began to get into full flow,

Melchior lit a fag and began to smoke,

With huge servings of Galician Pulpo.

Baltasar and Melchior did a line of coke.

But out in the night something had stirred,

“Now I remember why we came out!”,

And the sound of speech, somewhat slurred,

Baltasar said with coke round his snout;

Three men un-mounted each from their beast,

“To find the Messiah we must follow the star”,

And headed towards the house with the feast,

“Problem is, don’t know where the f**k we are”.

The three were looking for a stable,

“Can’t see a star for all this cloud”

But were so pi**ed, they were not able.

Melchior exclaimed very loud!

A Star they’d followed and the reason they came,

“I have a solution I have my GPS”,

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“All we need now is to enter the address”; “The address for the Messiah, what a great idea”, “Give us it here you bloody queer”, And in the fight the GPS broke on the ground, So how was the Messiah now to be found? So Baltasar came up with a idea somewhat odd, “We’ll wait till we see a sign from our God”; They waited and waited and did another line, And then a loud squeal, was that the sign? “Been here an hour and not heard from God”, Let’s go and follow the sound from that Quad; They headed for the quad along a quite road, And soon came across a brightly lit abode; Talking and music could be heard from afar, And dance music emanated from a nearby car.

“Baltasar said “We are hear on a quest and have followed the star ” “No your not, I saw you, you were pi**ed in the bar” “I’ll call my dogs if you don’t go away” “So get you drunken ass off my land, Hombre”

They approached the house without trepidation,

Gaspar begged “Our quest is divine”

After all, the Spanish are a friendly nation!!,

“Your talking crap because of the wine”

A rap on the door, brought the noise to an end,

“We are the Magi with gifts of myrrh, frankincense and gold,

And down to their knees did the 3 Kings descend,

Of this great event we were foretold”

Awaiting the chance to see the young child,

“Today is Christmas Eve ?” he said with regret “The 3 kings is the 5th you drunken muppet”

At the door a man appeared, somewhat riled. 51


The secret of a successful Christmas is careful planning. I commenced Christmas preparations in July when I arranged to have a letter sent to my relatives informing them of my death. To avoid funeral attendance, the letter explained that I had succumbed to salmonella on a cross channel ferry and, for health and safety reasons, had been buried at sea. This forestalled receipt of family Christmas cards, particularly those containing long, tedious, duplicated, personal chronologies of the year. It also excused me effort and expense on reciprocal Yuletide greetings. Critically, however, it prevented any possibility of an invitation to spend Christmas day with family members. As a pensioner living alone, invitations to be subjected to this annual, charitable, Christian ordeal are an ever present danger. This is particularly true in my village where residents seem to have sworn a solemn oath that no person who lives alone shall ever have a nice, peaceful Christmas day. It was to address this diabolic covenant that, from November, I began to inform neighbours that I would be spending Christmas one hundred miles away with my, nonexistent, Cousin Eric. Unfortunately, John and Mavis live in the adjoining semi, and sound passing through the connecting wall would have made it impossible to remain at home without their awareness. John and Mavis are elderly and might not live much longer, so I initially considered hastening their demise. I concluded, however, that this would be fraught with difficulties: It would have to be executed at the last moment to avoid the possibility of new tenants arriving before Christmas. I also feared that, due to my lack of homicide experience, the police might be more than a match for my cunning. Finally, upon reflection, murdering one’s neighbours

seemed somewhat contrary to the Christmas spirit. Fortunately, these neighbours have a daughter in Australia who they had not seen for five years. The daughter was very grateful for my letter about the declining health of her parents and the suggestion that this might be the last opportunity to fly them to Australia for Christmas. John and Mavis were delighted at this invitation, although unfortunately became aware of my part in its planning. They thanked me profusely and insisted that I join them for Christmas dinner next year. At least I have twelve months to carefully revisit my original plan. So came Christmas Eve. I placed in my windows the life-sized photographs of my deserted rooms. I then reconstructed my living room in the back bedroom. In the fading light, I loaded a suitcase into my car and waved to several neighbours as I drove away. The lock-up garage is just two miles away, so I soon concealed the car, donned my black tracksuit and balaclava and returned home along footpaths. Today is Christmas day. I got up late and didn’t bother to dress. I’ve had a brilliant traditional Christmas dinner with all the trimmings but no effort due to Marks and Spencers and the microwave. I’ll wash up in February. Now it’s time for the Queen’s speech. I won’t watch that tedious crap, of course. I think I’ll open my second wine box, have a fag and surf some more pornography on the Internet. Christmas is wonderful and need not be stressful. It’s all a question of planning.

Reproduced by kind permission of Swan Morrison www.short-humour.org.uk


Costa Tropical News - December 2009  

The No.1 magazine for the Costa Tropical

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