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Issue 28 - March 2009








MARCH 2009

6 LIGHTER SIDE The Best Humour in one place

8 ALL WOMAN Break up lines that make us say...

1 1 RECIPES New quick and easy recipes - this month Garlic & Basil prawns and Gorgonzola Bruschetta

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

16 ANIMALS & PETS Pet Questions

19 PUZZLED Crosswords and puzzles.

20 A LETTER Letter from the Southern Hemisphere. Views and opinions from Latin America

30 HEALTH MATTERS Peanut Allegy Cure - Lifestyle doubles stroke risk

34 GADGETS & GIZMOS The 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

44 EL ALCALDE Bull cloning

46 RANTS & RAVES How sweet is my life Editor :- Simon Batchelor

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ger and retorted in a rage: “well, just how sick are you?” “Well” the employee sighed, “I’m in bed with my sister!” §

Jim and Mary were both patients in a Mental Hospital. One day while they were walking past the hospital swimming pool, Jim suddenly jumped into the deep end. He sank to the bottom and stayed there. Mary promptly jumped in to save him. She swam to the bottom and pulled Jim out. When the medical director became aware of Mary’s heroic act he immediately ordered her to be discharged from the hospital as he now considered her to be mentally stable. When he went to tell Mary the news he said, “Mary, I have good news and bad news. The good news is you’re being discharged because since you were able to jump in and save the life of another patient, I think you’ve regained your senses. The bad news is Jim, the patient you saved, hung himself with his bathrobe belt in the bathroom. I am so sorry, but he’s dead.”

There was this little guy sitting in a bar, drinking his beer, minding his own business when all of a sudden this great big dude comes in and -- WHACK!! -- knocks him off the bar stool and onto the floor. The big dude says, “That was a karate chop from Korea.” The little guy thinks “GEEZ,” but he gets back up on the stool and starts drinking again when all of a sudden - WHACK!! -- the big dude knocks him down AGAIN and says, “That was a judo chop from Japan.” So the little guy has had enough of this... He gets up, brushes himself off and quietly leaves. The little guy is gone for an hour or so when he returned. Without saying a word, he walks up behind the big dude and -- WHAM!!!” -- knocks the big dude off his stool, knocking him out cold!!! The little guy looks at the bartender and says, “When he gets up, tell him that’s a crowbar from Homebase.

to make love, the male duck says, “We don’t have any condoms. I’’ll call room service.” So he calls and asks for condoms. The receptionist says, ’’OK sir, would you like me to put them on your bill?’’ ’’No,’’ he says, ‘’I’ll suffocate!’’ § A young women visited her optician complaining of failing eyesight. The optician sat her in front of a standard eye chart. Optician : “Can you read the bottom line?” Girl: “No.” Optician : “Can you read the centre line?” Girl: “No.” Optician : “Can you read the large top line?” Girl: “No.” Optician (getting frustrated): “Can you even see the chart?” Girl: “No.”

§ Two honeymooning ducks are staying in a hotel. As they are about

The optician is clearly frustrated and whips his willy out of his pants. Optician : “Can you see this?” Girl: “Of course!”

Mary replied, “He didn’t hang himself, I put him there to dry.”

Optician : “Well, there’s your problem -- you’re cockeyed!”

§ An employee who had a terrible history for taking time off phoned in again one Monday morning: “I’m sorry, but I’ll not be able to come in today as I’m too sick.” On hearing this his exasperated boss could barely conceal his an-

§ A nice, calm and respectable lady went into the pharmacy, walked right up to 6

ONE LINERS Women always have the last say in any argument. Whatever the man says after that is simply the start of a new argument. Be nice to your kids. They’ll choose your nursing home.

the pharmacist, looked straight into his eyes, and said, “I would like to buy some cyanide.” The pharmacist asked, “Why in the world do you need cyanide?” The lady replied, “I need it to poison my husband.” The pharmacist’s eyes got big and he exclaimed, “I can’t give you cyanide to kill your husband! That’s against the law! I’ll lose my license! They’ll throw both of us in jail! All kinds of bad things will happen. Absolutely not! You CANNOT have any cyanide!” The lady reached into her purse and pulled out a picture of her husband in bed with the pharmacist’s wife. The pharmacist looked at the picture and replied, “Well now, that’s different. You didn’t tell me you had a prescription.”

cohol is a major factor in dancing tipe real gode like a retard.

§ WARNING: The consumption of alcohol may cause you to tell your A businessman enters a pub, sits friends over and over again that down at the bar, and orders a double martini on the rocks. After he you love them. finishes the drink, he peeks inside WARNING: The consumption of al- his shirt pocket, then orders the cohol may cause you to think you bartender to prepare another double martini. After he finishes that can sing. it, he again peeks inside his shirt WARNING: The consumption of pocket and orders the bartender to alcohol may lead you to believe bring another double martini. that ex-lovers are really dying for you to telephone them at four in The bartender says, “Look, sir, I’ll bring you martinis all night long the morning. - but tell me why you look inside WARNING: The consumption of your shirt pocket before you order alcohol may make you think you a refill.” can logically converse with other members of the opposite sex with- The customer replies, “I’m peeking at a photo of my wife. When she out spitting. starts to look good, I know it’s time WARNING: The consumption of to go home.” § alcohol is the leading cause of inDue to increasing products li- explicable rug burns on the foreability litigation, British Breweries head, knees and lower back. have accepted the Department of Health’s suggestion that the fol- WARNING: The consumption of allowing warning labels be placed cohol may create the illusion that MARCH THOUGHT immediately on all varieties of alco- you are tougher, smarter, faster FOR THE MONTH and better looking than most peohol containers: ple. Charity may begin at WARNING: The consumption of alcohol may leave you wondering WARNING: The consumption of home, but if it goes no what the hell happened to your alcohol may lead you to think peofurther, it’s no longer bra and panties. ple are laughing WITH you.


WARNING: The consumption of al- WARNING: The consumption of alcohol may make you think you are cohol may cause pregnancy. whispering when you are not. WARNING: The crumsumpten of WARNING: The consumption of al- alcahol may Mack you tink you can 7

It’s clan loyalty.

Break up lines that make us say... huh?

a few weeks. She had a lovely romantic reunion that night. she gave him loads of little presents. And later, when snuggled up in bed, he rolls over, sighs and says, “I could totally fall in love with you” which she thought was rather lovely, until he added “but I’m thinking of becoming a priest”. That was it, we were finished who wants to two-time God? (’Sad thing is, he never did become a priest and married the next girl he dated!)

“I love you but I’m not in love with you”, “It’s not you, it’s me”, or how about “I just need some space”? Yes, we’ve heard them all before – haven’t we? Since launching in 2000, thousands of lines have been sent into them from all four corners of the globe.

TYPES OF DUMPS Over the years it seems like dumping lines fall into less than ten categories. Some are harsh, some are martyrs, and still others are confused. There are break-up lines pertaining to families, religion, work and some are just plain unexplainable. What follows are actual lines that have been used according to website visitors.

The line that inspired the owner to start SYBD was given to her one Sunday night after she had just flown from San Francisco to Glasgow. It was a delivered by a guy she’d merely dated for




Sometimes dumpers pass the buck and it’s the family that takes the blame. “I can see us together forever, just not with your two kids. If you didn’t have them then we would have something.” Or “I’ve decided I love you more as a sister, so I can’t see you any more.” Or “I can’t go on. The stress I am getting from my mother is just too much.” Some people blame it on mothers, even more bizarrely, “I know you’re not The One - because you leave the lid off the toothpaste and my mother would never do that.”

Religion can play a big part in break ups – regardless of the faith. I always liked “Even though we’ve been together for two years, you’re Jewish and I’m Catholic, what would the Pope say?” And the classic “We have religious differences... you think you are God and I don’t agree.” Let’s not leave out the, “It wasn’t the will of God” line. THE CAKE AND EAT IT DUMP Some dumpers are rather greedy, “Can’t we get divorced and still be together? I mean it’s just a piece of paper....” and “Can’t you just be in my life like the rest of my female friends?” or the old chestnut, “I am not ready for a relationship, but I still want you in my life.” I especially loved “I’m confused, but I’d like to see you both - her on the weekends and you in the car park.” Huh?

Or they make a generic excuse about their life and work –being too busy off comes up but I prefer when they cite work in more unusual ways like, “You scientists just don’t understand.”, “You’re the philosopher, you work it out” or “It’s a corporate finance thing. That’s why it’s so hard to do this.”

I thought I’d leave you with some SYBD favourites over the years:

THE HARSH DUMP Some times a dumper can be down right nasty, “Did you really think we were going to get married and have children?” – was one of the more memorable lines over the years. And the rather classy, “It’s not like if we tried for the rest of our lives, you would get to be better in bed” also stood out. And “I met someone else who doesn’t bore me to tears” was a bit of a cracker.

SIX CLASSICS: “Me breaking up with you, well it’s like childbirth. Sure it hurts like hell for a while but then you’ll forget the pain completely when you find someone else to make you happy.” “If I have to choose between you and this glass of wine, I’ll choose the glass of wine every time.”

THE MARTYR DUMP Sometimes people opt to be more of a martyr and make it seem like it’s in your best interest to call it quits, “I am breaking up with you now before you get too attached to I am doing you a sort of favour, aren’t I?”. Or “It’s just that you might be the one for the rest of my life and I don’t want to blow that by going out with you now.” Huh? A better attempt is, “I’m just not ready for you yet! You make me want to be a better man and I have to work at it!”

“I have A.D.D. and just can’t stay interested in things for very long.” “My feelings for you just plateaued.” “We have too many music differences. I really like the new Radiohead stuff and you’re just into the old stuff.” “Don’t get me wrong, I really love your boobs, but I thought they were that I know they’re fake I can’t be with someone that shallow.”

One similar to this was given to me - “Just give up on me, I am not worth the trouble. I am just going to be alone for the rest of my life.” Just what can you say to that? 9


Garlic & Basil Prawns Bruschetta with Gorgonzola Cheese and Honey

Ingredients: 2 tablespoons olive oil 600 gms large prawns peeled and deveined 3 garlic cloves, minced 1 /8 teaspoon dried hot red-pepper akes, or more to taste 180 ml dry white wine 1/2 bunch ďŹ nely chopped fresh basil leaves 100 gms cherry tomatoes, halved Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Ingredients 36 slices (1/2-inch thick) baguette bread, about 1 loaf 60 ml extra-virgin olive oil 250 g ounces Gorgonzola, sliced 3 tablespoons honey

Directions Heat the oil in a large heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then saute prawns, turning over once, until just cooked through, about 2 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a large bowl.

Directions Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Arrange the sliced baguette on a baking sheet. Brush with olive oil. Bake until the bread is pale golden and crisp, about 10 minutes.

Add garlic and red pepper akes to the oil remaining in skillet and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds. Add wine and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes. Stir in basil and tomatoes and season the sauce with salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste. Return the prawns to pan and cook just until heated through.

Arrange the cheese on the toasts and bake until the cheese is melted, about 3 minutes. Drizzle the toasts with honey. Place on a serving platter and serve immediately.


Styro Build Espana are working to finalise plans on a 2 storey family home, which will be built near Alhama de Granada. The site will be open to visitors both during and after construction, photos and build diaries will appear on our website for those wanting to follow our progress. Start date should be around April 09, finalised dates will be published in the Costa Tropical Magazine. Throughout the work on the 2 Storey family home Styro Build España now works with a Granada based architect. We are offering services ranging from initial design to construction and everything in between! Even if you already have a project we can adapt your plans to the Styro Build Sun Block System too. Just give us a call for drop us an email and we’ll see how we can help you. Drain or Water Leak Problems? Then you solution may be Pipetek SL. The main purpose of the company is to offer a quality, cost effective service to its clients with an aim of saving the client money in the long term. Their service engineers are highly trained & certified in high pressure water jetting techniques and confined space entry. Their vehicles are very well equipped for high pressure water jetting, CCTV Surveying, Root removal, drain tracing and water leak detection. The price you pay is based on an hourly rate and includes the use of whatever equipment is required to get the job done or offer the best advice. They offer this service to domestic, industrial and commercial customers of all nationalities along the coast and inland. No Call Out Charge - Pipetek SL operate a fixed hourly rate for callouts with discounts for Urbanisations, Administrators, Local Councils and Water Authorities. To discuss your requirements please contact them. They even operate a free help and support facility via email at This facility is open to everyone. Factories, offices, homes, restaurants, pubs and clubs, They are here to help everyone. Call 952 891 248 mobile 679 628 000 12

Legends of Salobreña are now open 7 days a week. They are open from 10am till late every day. Looking for a venue for a private party? Then let Legends do all the hard work for you. They can arrange a menu to suit your budget and live entertainment if required. As well as their regular open mic, live bands and karaoke nights they will also be celebrating St Patrick’s Day on 17th March. For more information on this and other events call them on 958 612 853. WALKING HOLIDAYS - The Life of Riley provide high quality leadership and low group numbers. Walks are led by Martin Riley who holds the qualification of International Mountain Leader (IML) and is the first British mountain guide to join the Spanish Mountain Guides Association. Martin has extensive knowledge of the area having walked here for over six years and has undertaken qualification and training courses both in the UK and Europe Permanently resident in the Alpujarras they are able to offer year round flexibility including arrival dates ,duration and activities in the Sierra Nevada, Sierra Almijara, and Sierra de Huetor as well as the Alpujarras. Within easy reach of either Granada, Almeria or Malaga airports the area is ideal for a short break or long holiday . The Life of Riley holds public liability insurance with Axa -Winterthur At The Life of Riley they offer Day Walks, Short breaks, Walking weeks, Low or high level, Mountain Treks, Scrambling, Mountain Skills, Winter walking and snowshoeing, Gorge walks, GRs and Long distance trials as well as multi activity. Discounts are available for group bookings and accommodation is available. Choose your dates, choose an activity and contact them on 0034 696 354 824 or visit their website

Casa del C@fe ....Albondón Their official opening night party on Monday 16th February was a huge success. With traditional Flamenco dancers and a Rod Stewart tribute act this added to the electric atmosphere. The evening was attended by their local Mayor Juan Castillo Castillo with members from the Town Hall and many Spanish and English locals. After 11 months of frustration and red tape they now have finally been given their opening license. John and Debbie Woodhouse pride themselves on their daily ‘in house’ bake off savoury pies, pasties and cakes from their supplier in England as well as light lunches and English breakfasts.

Cafe Bar Garcia based in Castell De Ferro are now offering a Menu of the day on Saturday Lunchtimes. For only €12 you will get 3 courses. Starters include Chicken Caesar Salad, spring rolls, onion rings and soup. Main courses include Homemade Burritos, Sizzling Chicken Fajitas, Homemade Chilli Con Carne with rice, Cajun Chicken , chips and salad (using their own recipe Cajun mix), their amazing giant hot dog and classic lasagne and Chips. For those with room left they can choose homemade Chocolate tart, homemade English Trifle or icecream. Their huge Summer terrace which leads directly onto the beach will soon be open. With 46 dishes to choose from there is something for everyone. To go with their curries they have Cobra Beer and to accompany Tex Mex they have Coronita and Tequila. They also stock, Strongbow, Guinness and Heineken. For wine lovers they have house wines of Chilean Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc & Cabernet Sauvignon. They also have a large section of Spanish regional wines, Californian, Australian, German, French Champagne and South African Wines. Most wines are available by the glass. Booking are advised to avoid disappointment Call 650 921 132 Manhattan Bar in Salobreña are continuing to offer their fabulous value menu of the day. They suggest booking or arriving early as most days are sold out. To book call Joe on 610 731 974

They stock a range of bottled beers from Spain, England and the USA and offer weekly promotions. They have a comfortable sofa area with widescreen plasma TV, Internet work stations with printers and fax/copying facilities. Live music and ‘theme’ nights are planned and they also stock ‘Seasonal’ goods including Easter Eggs and Hot Cross Buns. John and Debbie would like to offer their sincere thanks to all those who have supported them over the past year and look forward look forward to serving you all in the future. Tel 958 826 603

Legends Salobreña played host to the first Salobreña Bridge Group’s opening duplicate bridge event. It was attended by a truly international group. English, Danish, Dutch, Belgium and French. Bridge lessons are also coming to Castell de Ferro soon For further information on the Salobreña Bridge Group contact David on 630 448 931 (call or text) or Email:




A little pet therapy can lift back to school blues! According to a study in the UK, pet owning children spend significantly more time in class at school than non pet-owning children. This research suggests those back to school blues could be easily cured with a promise of a little animal magic in the classroom. Recognising the benefits pets in the classroom can bring, many charities now run pet programmes for schools Research in the UK has also shown there is nothing better than the real thing.

Contact with a live animal rather than the use of a soft toy, results in children being more attentive and responsive in the presence of the animal to the teacher or therapist in the case of children with special needs What are the benefits of a pet programme in schools? By introducing animals in to schools, a range of moral, spiritual and educational benefits for the child can be observed. Pets in schools have been found to: • Motivate pupils to learn and think • Encourage respect for life • Foster a sense of empathy and responsibility in children • Teach children how to nurture, care for and love all life • Lead to the development of hobbies and potential careers in animal care • Improve academic achievement Pets can also work miracles for children with special learning needs. For instance, studies have shown that sustained contact with animals in a structured learning programme can increase focused attention in children with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) as effectively as such medications like Ritalin. There are a number of exciting programmes running in other countries. In the US for example, Fido has proved an unlikely by highly effective reading partner. Therapy dogs are now often used in programmes where children read to the dog. The dogs appear to listen intently, and unlike humans, do not interrupt or correct the child. Results have shown that the children’s


reading ability can improve greatly as their confidence grows. In Austria, Professor Kurt Kotschral’s study demonstrated that contrary to expectations, the presence of dogs in the classroom resulted in a better learning environment. The children became more co-operative, more considerate towards each other. They became more focused and paid closer attention to their teacher. An Australian study monitored the effect of classroom cats. Their presence calmed the children who became quieter and more co-operative. The cats had a significant impact on children who had previously exhibited serious behaviour problems. Parents, teachers and head teachers were enthusiastic about the programme and children enjoyed school more

and encourages the regulated presence of animals in schools. In 2001 IAHAIO issued the Rio Declaration on Pets in Schools which states. “Given the strong evidence that has accumulated in recent years demonstrating the value, to children and juveniles of social relationships with companion animals, it is important that children be taught proper and safe behaviour towards animals and the correct care, handling and treatment of the various companion animal species.”

According to John Foster, Chairman of the Pet Health Council: “Children are universally naturally interested in animals. Parents and teachers can harness this interest to teach children important life skills and lessons. The needs of people and animals are broadly similar. Teaching animal care gives teachers and parents unparalleled opportunity to introduce many important concepts such as good nutrition, health and hygiene routines, a responsible outlook in life and preventative health care”. Elizabeth Ormerod MRCVS, Pet Health Council member, highlights that animal welfare should be a primary consideration at all times: “Any involvement of animals in schools must promote good practice in animal care and welfare. Children can share the tasks of caring for the pet, but an adult needs to take overall responsibility for the pet’s welfare. Veterinary Surgeons should also be involved in the selection, assessment, and care of the pets.” The International Association of Human-Animal Interaction Organizations (IAHAIO) recognises the need to teach children about animal care 17


Answers on Page 38

It’s carnival time! Yes, as I look down into the streets from my lair in the southern hemisphere, there is all the sunshine, loud music, battery of drums, and writhing samba dancers in a blaze of every colour under the sun. In this part of Latin America, carnival is samba. Although the very epitome of “dancing in the streets”, it is taken very seriously indeed. Huge samba schools exist the whole year round, just to prepare for the few days of dancing at carnival time and when I say huge, think three to five thousand in each school – and the major cities have tens of schools. Not just that, but the very biggest of the cities even have special, purpose-built “samba-dromes” in which to stage the music and dancing. This consists of a straight strip 800 to 1,000 metres long, with grandstands for the spectators on either side. For two or three days during carnival time, there is then a constant stream along the samba strip of gigantic, colourful floats, thousands of dancers, musicians and, of course, the batteries of drummers keeping up the relentless samba rhythms. In many ways, of course, it seems to defeat the whole purpose of the exercise to hold a carnival procession in the stadium-like samba-dromes. But, as the experience in large cities where they are still held in the streets has shown, things have a nasty tendency of getting out of control. Public exuberance turns to fisticuffs, violence and general mayhem. That is one of the reasons I’m headed out of town this weekend, to enjoy the colourful, exciting, and vibrant – but somehow more manageable – frenzy of carnival in the smaller towns and villages. That makes it all the more accessible for this particular Englishman, though I have to say that all the good-humoured laughter, dancing and music is still a distinctly un-English phenomenon. Whilst all the carnival preparations have been going on, I’ve turned occasionally to the newspapers from the northern hemisphere, where of course it is winter. Pages were dedicated to the unusually heavy snowfall which apparently covered my native land. Caught out, as ever, by such unseasonable conditions – it was winter, after all – inaction by most local authorities meant that most of the country came to a grinding halt. Schools closed, transport failed to run and even London, it seems, shut up shop. Personally, it’s been many a long year since I’ve had even so much as a sniff of snow, or even a temperature that has dropped much into single figures, come to think of it. So, it is entirely likely that I’ve retained some quaint, Christmas-card picture of all the prettiness of the white stuff. No doubt, it’s been a rather different story for those of you who might have had to put up with the reality of it. The real winter of the northern hemisphere’s discontent, as far as I can tell, is the continuing saga of economic recession. I tried reading an article intended to explain to me the technical differences between “recession” and “de-


pression” – with Britain apparently teetering on the brink of the latter – but quite a bit of it went above my head. Whatever you call it – and at least one government minister has apparently called it the worst in the last 100 years – there’s an almost daily tirade about how bad things might be at the moment, but also how bad they are going to get. It all makes pretty grim reading, but I wonder how close to home it is actually affecting the average man’s daily life. This particular “average man” has written before about the inconvenience of a sterling-paid pension when the exchange rate for the pound is in its current free-fall. I had my whinge before, so I’ll not dwell on it again, but just stay thankful for the fact that at least the pension continues to be paid! Other parts of the world, of course, are not so fortunate. It brought sobering thoughts to mind, therefore, when I read a piece in The Observer about a soup kitchen that has had to open in Zaragoza, half-way between Madrid and Barcelona. The city had ridden last year’s wave of success for the international Expo fair and the construction boom that had buoyed up the entire country. The following bust of the overheated construction industry has sent unemployment in the city rocketing to an estimated 75%. As a result, the soup kitchen visited by The Observer’s correspondent was already full to overflowing with those it could accommodate and was having to send away other hopefuls with paper-bags of food. The political ramifications of Spain’s spiralling unemployment problems are not helped, of course, by the fact that some 10% at least of the work force is comprised of legal and illegal immigrants. All in all, therefore, it’s all a pretty grim and desperate picture. You have to smile, therefore, at one of Spanish agriculture’s recession-busting initiatives for bringing healthy, cheap meat to the supermarket shelves. The Agricultural Research Institute in Valencia has introduced a breeding programme designed to encourage commercial farming of the rare Valenciano giant rabbit. I’ve seen the pictures of this creature and it really does appear to be a gigantic breed – well capable of producing the 15 lbs (7 kg) of meat that its proponents claim. Yes, alright, it does still look the picture of an out sized sweet and cuddly toy, but who’s going to know when the steaks appear cellophanewrapped on the chillers’ shelves. Here in this part of the world, as I’m writing, there are indeed other, even more bizarre, sources of meat from less than sweet and cuddly-looking animals. But these are exception to the principal preoccupation with eating bloodred meat – and lashings of it. Health conscious eating has yet to really catch on here and with most of the agriculturally self-sufficient country continuing to be sheltered from the effects of the recession “up north”, people carry on enjoying and making an occasion of practically every meal.





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Hope over peanut allergy ‘cure’

A few trials were done in the 1990s using peanut injections, but these were not successful.

A group of children with peanut allergies have had their condition effectively cured, doctors believe.

‘Quality of life’ Dr Andy Clark, who led the research published in the journal Allergy, said: “Every time people with a peanut allergy want something, they’re frightened that it might kill them.

A team from Cambridge’s Addenbrooke’s Hospital exposed four children to peanuts over a sixmonth period, gradually building up their tolerance. By the end the children were eating the equivalent of five peanuts a day.

“Our motivation was to find a treatment that would change that and give them the confidence to eat what they like. It’s all about quality of life.

It is the first time a food allergy has been desensitised in such a way, although a longer-term follow up is now needed to confirm the findings.

“It’s not a permanent cure, but as long as they go on taking a daily dose they should maintain their tolerance.”

Peanut allergies affect one in 50 young people in the UK and commonly cause breathing problems.

The team have now expanded the study to include another 18 children and say there is no reason why the technique would not work for adults.

But at their most serious, they can lead to a potentially life-threatening anaphylactic shock.

John Collard, the clinical director of Allergy UK, said it was “an important step forward”.

The Cambridge team started the children on tiny 5mg daily doses of peanut flour before they trained their bodies up to cope regularly with 800mg - the equivalent to five whole peanuts.

“This could make a real difference, but at this stage it is too early to tell whether it will work for everyone. We need to see it used on more people and over a long period of time.”

Kate Frost, the mother of a nine-year-old who was one of the four participants, said: “It’s very hard to describe how much of a difference it’s made - not just in Michael’s life, but for all of us.

Lifestyle ‘doubles stroke risk’ Unhealthy lifestyles are associated with more than double the risk of a stroke, a UK study has reported.

“A peanut allergy affects the whole family. You can’t go out to a restaurant. If your child goes to a birthday party, he takes a packed lunch.”

Smoking, drinking too much alcohol, not taking enough exercise and eating few vegetables and little fruit contribute to the chances of a stroke, it found.

Peanut allergy sufferer Carl Morris: ‘I hadn’t had a Mars Bar in nine years’ The concept of desensitising people to allergies has been successfully done with bee and wasp stings and pollen allergies, but this is the first time it has been achieved with a food-related allergy.

Just a small proportion of the 20,000 adults studied had healthy enough lifestyles to protect against the condition, researchers said.


Strokes cost the UK £7bn a year, the British Medical Journal article added.

stroke risk of 1.7%. Findings ‘worrying’

Previous studies have shown that lifestyle behaviour, such as smoking and diet, are associated with the risk of heart attacks and stroke, but the impact of a combination of risk factors in apparently healthy people has been less clear.

The researchers said the results could provide further support to the idea that small differences in lifestyle affect stroke risk. Study leader Dr Phyo Myint said: “Over the study period we observed six people for every 100 participants who had no health behaviours suffered a stroke compared to about one to two people for every 100 participants who had four positive health behaviours.

Even small changes to our lifestyle, such as an improved diet, drinking alcohol in moderation, not smoking and being active, can reduce your risk of stroke Joanne Murphy - The Stroke Association

“Together with the substantial existing body of evidence about modifiable behaviours and stroke risk, this may provide further encouragement to make entirely feasible changes which have the potential to have a major impact on stroke.”

In the latest study, led by the University of East Anglia, researchers gave one point for each “healthy behaviour” reported by the participants, aged between 40 and 79. One point was given to those who did not smoke, one point awarded for drinking just one to 14 units of alcohol a week, one point for consuming five portions of fruit and vegetables a day and one point for being physically active.

In an accompanying editorial, Dr Matthew Giles, from the Stroke Prevention Research Unit at John Radcliffe Hospital Oxford, pointed out that the small proportion of participants with a lifestyle that protected against stroke meant a huge shift in behaviour would be needed to achieve any benefit.

A significantly higher percentage of women than men scored a maximum of four.

Joanne Murphy, a spokeswoman for The Stroke Association, said with obesity levels on the rise, the findings were worrying.

The study found those who scored zero points were 2.3 times more likely to have a stroke in the 11-year follow-up than those with four points. For every point decrease in the scores, there was an increase in likelihood of stroke, the researchers said.

“A stroke is a brain attack, it happens when the blood supply is cut to the brain, it causes brain cells to die and results in brain damage,” she said.

Some 259 people did not score any points, of whom 15 had a stroke - at a rate of 5.8%.

“It’s the third biggest killer and if it doesn’t kill it can leave you severely disabled.

But the most common score was three - achieved by 7,822 individuals, of whom 186, or 2.4%, had a stroke.

“However, even small changes to our lifestyle factors, such as an improved diet, drinking alcohol in moderation, not smoking and being active, can reduce your risk of stroke.”

Around 5,000 achieved the healthiest score of four, which was associated with an absolute 31



What do you get a golf lover which is a little different from the norm? How about this touch screen digital golf scorecard? Never again will you need to scribble down your scores on a tiny scorecard, never again will you lose your card before getting back to the clubhouse and never again will you not be able to read your own writing!

During these difficult financial times, sometimes you need all the help you can get. and this could help. When is a wallet not a wallet? When it is sewn tight shut so you cannot get access to your money and other people will need to bail you out!

This touch screen digital golf scorecard is easy to use, comes with its own virtual golf club styled pencil and keeps the scores (hole by hole) for up to 4 players. It is very user-friendly, can fit easily into your golf bag and weighs very little so you won’t even notice it is there.

This excellent tight git wallet is sewn shut and no matter how hard you try there is just no way to get your money out next time you are down the pub. How many times have we all been stung by that person who seems to lose their money or leave their wallet at home every single time they are out? How many times have you been forced to put your hand in your pocket for a shared taxi fare, food on the way home, a drink or any other night out expenses? Well, now you can put your money away and sponge off your friends to see how they feel when money is tight and their friend is even tighter! Intriguingly while this is a wallet for the more tightfisted amongst us, if you just unpick the stitching it is actually a quality wallet although it is emblazoned with the words “tight git wallet” down the side. Possibly the perfect gift for your friend who never has any money or why not treat yourself and get your friends to pay for it!


As well as being at the cutting edge of touchscreen technology this little beauty can be attached to your bag, your belt or your jacket by a very useful velcro strap. It is also usable in the worst of weather, wind, rain as well as sun and shine ensuring that you keep your score with the greatest of ease. This is one of those devices which is practical and above all very useful. Sick of trying to fathom out exactly which button does what on the TV remote? Or is one of those vital keys broken? Never fear, the one button remote control is now here and will allow you couch potatoes out there to spend a little less time trying to find the right button on this new style remote. So how does it work? The new controller is easy to use, simply turn the dial on the controller and point it at the TV as you would a Wii controller. By simply moving the controller left and right, up and down you can easily select channels and change the volume. One button, a smaller controller and the chance to master your Wii controller skills at the same time, what more can you ask for?

Thank god that someone has actually taken the time and the effort to introduce this new style controller to the masses. The more traditional TV remotes have been getting more and more complex and confusing more and more people. But not this little baby!

Available in striking orange and black colouring, the one button remote could well catch on as it really is so simple to use. How long before you throw the old controller out of the window? Check out this cute little USB Finger Dance Mat which will help you pass away the time as you wait for that all important email, want a break from the computer or just want to let you hands do the walking and talking!

Based on the ever popular dance mat craze which has swept the globe this is a miniature workout for your fingers and you will soon see that it is rather addictive. Simply plug it into one of your USB sockets, slip your fingers through the hole and select which game you want to play. As with the traditional dance mat game you get more points if you are able to press to the beat and catch one of the arrows while it is illuminated. On a more serious note it would be interesting to see if the USB Finger Dance Mat actually helps those who

type for a living giving the fingers a much needed break but keeping them supple. However, we diverge from the real reason for the USB Finger Dance Mat, fun, fun and more run. Every now and again we see new and exciting gadgets come to the market, items which are a little different, unique and more importantly you are likely to be the first to have one in your area.

The latest item to fall into this category is the ‘Rainbow in my Room’ projector which actually recreates the affects of a rainbow in your room. We have all tried to chase the rainbow, to get the pot of gold at the end but while the chase may be over we have still to find that pot of gold! The gadget uses an array of multi-coloured LEDs to project a cascade of colours all around your room, bringing with it a calming mellow sensation which can actually be very useful for those looking to de-stress 35

Spain’s “autonomous communities” By Peter Webb Our alphabetical tour of Spain’s seventeen autonomous communities takes us from last month’s Andalusia in the far south of the country, next to Aragon in the north east. As a region in the middle of the Pyrenees, as far as the border with France, south to the dry central lowlands of interior Spain, Aragon is a land of stark contrasts. The geography of the region is largely responsible for keeping it sparsely populated, yet it is one of the most prosperous of the autonomous regions and has an especially rich history and culture dating back to pre-Roman times.

the north, Zaragoza in the middle and Teruel in the south. The most spectacular scenery is undoubtedly in the north, within the Pyrenean range of mountains, including its highest, Aneto, standing at 3,404 metres (more than 11,000 feet). This is very rugged terrain and close to the border with France is the Ordesa National Park, which has some of the most spectacular scenery in Europe, from canyons, frozen lake caverns and countless waterfalls. Flora and fauna abound in what is a sanctuary for many endangered species.

Aragon is divided into three provinces: Huesca in

It is not all harsh and rugged countryside, however,


since many picturesque villages shelter in the many valleys and hillsides. The focal point of most of these is a Romanesque church, with oldest of these in the medieval town of Jaca in the most northerly part of the province. In the foothills of the Pyrenees, there are the natural rock formations of the Mallos de Riglos and a landscape dotted with many ancient – and rarely visited – small castles. Some are much grander and well-known, the most famous, for example, being the Loarre Castle, which overlooks the vast plains of Sotonera south to Huesca and beyond. Travelling south, we drop down in altitude to River Ebro and the richly fertile farmlands of the Ebro valley. The Ebro was named by the Romans as the Iber – from which we derive the modern day description of Iberians. The valley has been settled since Roman times and still hosts many villages and ruins from that time. The central province of Zaragoza is where half of the autonomous community lives. The whole of Aragon occupies almost one-tenth of Spain’s land area, yet is home to less than 3% of the population. South again from the Ebro valley, the land rises again into the mountains of the Sistema Iberico before settling into the dry and arid central lowlands of Teruel (and onwards to the vast plains of Castile-La Mancha), with its scattered population of small hamlets and villages. Culturally and historically, Aragon retains many of the features that made it a frontier of different, often competing influences. This, it has been shaped by its being at the frontier of rivalries between France and Spain; Muslims and Christians; and even in the languages spoken throughout the region (Aragonese and Catalan remain widespread minority languages in addition to the official Castilian Spanish). Aragon first proclaimed itself a kingdom in 1035. It had grown out of a series of alliances with both Navarre and Castile in an attempt to stem invasions from France to the north and the Muslims in the south. This was one of the pivotal defensive roles of the Castle of Loarre mentioned above, as a frontier between the Christian and Muslim lands. The kingdom quite rapidly prospered and strengthened and was able to conquer the Muslim kingdom and city of Zaragoza in 1118. Aragon continued as an independent kingdom until 1591, when Felipe of Castile invaded Zaragoza and annexed Aragon to Castile, to create the first kingdom of Spain. Nevertheless, Aragon retained its monarch and, indeed,

following a marriage between Queen Petronila of Aragon and the Count of Barcelona extended its sovereignty over considerably larger areas of Spain. The dynasty of “the Kings of Aragon and the Counts of Barcelona” was to see Aragonese sovereignty extend to Catalonia, the Balearic Islands, Valencia, Sicily, Naples and Sardinia, in a so-called Aragonese Empire. The city of Zaragoza in Aragon was the scene of a famous battle in 1710 during the War of the Spanish Succession. This was when the invading armies of Germany, Britain and Holland defeated the Spanish Army at what came to be known by its English name as the Battle of Saragossa. This led to the then King of Spain, Felipe V to abandon the Royal Palace in Madrid and retreat to Valladolid. At the beginning of the 19th Century, Aragon was again on the frontier of war between France and Spain. During Napoleon’s Peninsular War, the Aragonese capital of Zaragoza was again subject to two fierce sieges in successive years. In 1808, the Spanish defeated overwhelming French forces, but the following year saw a further particularly fierce and bloody siege when the Spanish again faced superior numbers of French soldiers. The Spanish garrison fought to the last in a vain attempt to avoid surrendering the city, which it was nevertheless forced to do after the death of 30,000 of the 32,000-strong Spanish garrison. For two weeks after first entering the city, the French had to fight on a house-byhouse, square-by-square basis to quell the town. Today, Aragon is one of the richest of Spain’s autonomous communities with a per capita income above the national average. The fertile Ebro valley continues to bolster agricultural wealth with its crops of wheat, barley, rye, fruit and grapes, but that mainstay of the economy has also been significantly diversified into industrial and service sectors. Zaragoza, of course, is the principal industrial centre of the region, with car and rail locomotive factories, an aluminium refinery and electronics industries. Iron ore and coal are mined in the south of the region, while the Pyrenean rivers in the north provide many hydro-electric power stations. The high-speed rail link between Madrid and Barcelona runs through Aragon, which is also well connected by motorways between Zaragoza, Madrid, Teruel, the Basque country, Huesca and Barcelona. Zaragoza also has an international airport, with national services operated from a number of other cities in the region. 37



professional role,” despite the 45-year-old nurse spending nearly half an hour with the elderly lady professionally applying dressings to her legs and merely offering prayer as she was departing and without pressing the point.

But do they work? I feel I need to stand up and be counted; regular readers of this column will know that I’m a minister of the Christian church, and that I try (and hopefully manage) not to use my articles to push my beliefs onto others. But there seems to be a landslide not of public opinion but of political opinion that is trying to criminalise being a Christian. I say that it’s not public opinion, because the latest statistical information we have is that not only is church attendance on the increase, but that in these times of crisis many people are looking to God and the church for help, and many of our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq agree that prayer is a real source of strength in their dangerous lives. I have recently come across several news reports of people running into trouble with the law or their employers for simply living according to their convictions in a non-assertive manner. You might remember the story of the BA worker who was told not to wear a cross around her neck or the schoolgirl suspended for saying she believed in Jesus. Especially typical is the case of the North Somerset Primary Care Trust suspending Caroline Petrie, a Christian mother of two from Weston-super-Mare, for offering to pray for one of her patients. A spokesman for the Trust said, “There are grounds for wondering whether the nurse’s sincere faith convictions about the efficacy of intercessory prayer are more strongly held than her commitment to a pattern of practice consistent with her 40

I’m not going to debate the rights and wrongs of the case, rather I want to share with you a true story from a doctor working in Kenya, a nation with which my church has a number of connections. For me it goes to the heart of the issue surrounding faith and prayer: do they work? The doctor writes, “One night I had worked hard to help a mother in the labour ward; but in spite of all we could do she died leaving us with a tiny premature baby and a crying two-year-old daughter. We would have difficulty keeping the baby alive, as we had no incubator. (We had no electricity to run an incubator.) We also had no special feeding facilities. Although we lived on the equator, nights were often chilly with treacherous draughts. One student midwife went for the box we had for such babies and the cotton wool the baby would be wrapped in. Another went to stoke up the fire and fill a hot water bottle. She came back shortly in distress to tell me that in filling the bottle, it had burst. Rubber perishes easily in tropical climates. ‘And it is our last hot water bottle!’ she exclaimed. ‘All right,’ I said, ‘put the baby as near the fire as you safely can, and sleep between the baby and the door to keep it free from draughts. Your job is to keep the baby warm.’ The following noon, as I did most days, I went to have prayers with those orphanage children who chose to gather with me. I gave the youngsters various suggestions of things to pray about and told them about the tiny baby. I explained our problem about keeping the baby warm enough, mentioning the hot water bottle. The baby could so easily die if it got chills. I also told them of the two-year-old sister, crying because her mother had died. During those prayers, one ten-year-old girl, Ruth, prayed with the usual blunt conciseness of our African children. ‘Please, God,’ she prayed, ‘Send us a water bottle. It’ll be no good tomorrow, God, as the baby will be dead, so please send it this afternoon.’

While I gasped inwardly at the audacity of the child’s prayer, she added by way of a corollary, ‘And while you’re about it, would you please send a dolly for the little girl whose Mummy died so she’ll know you really do care about her?’ As often with children’s prayers, I was put on the spot. Could I honestly say, ‘Amen?’ I just did not believe that God could do this. Oh, yes, I know that he can do, well, everything ... but there are limits, aren’t there? The only way God could answer this particular prayer would be by sending me a parcel from home. I had been in Africa for almost four years at that time and I had never, ever received a parcel from home. Anyway, if anyone did send me a parcel, who would put in a hot water bottle? I lived on the Equator!

months. Packed up by my former Sunday school class, whose leader had felt the need to include a hot water bottle, even for equatorial Africa. And one of the girls had put in a dolly for an African child.” Prayer and faith truly are mysteries; in one sense that prayer had been answered five months before it was prayed by a ten-year-old exercising faith, asking that the parcel be brought ‘that afternoon.’ We’ve gone too far with political correctness; let’s start living in a reality that is bigger than all of us. Leslie Thomas

Halfway through the afternoon, while I was teaching in the nurses’ training school, a message was sent that there was a car at my front door. By the time I reached home, the car had gone, but there, on the veranda, was a large ten kilo parcel. I felt tears pricking my eyes. I did not want to open the parcel alone, so I sent for the orphanage children. Together we pulled off the string, carefully undoing each knot. We folded the paper, taking care not to tear it unduly, as we could certainly re-use it. Excitement was mounting. Some thirty or forty pairs of eyes were focused on the large cardboard box. From the top, I lifted out brightly coloured, knitted jerseys. Eyes sparkled as I gave them out. Then there were the knitted bandages for the leprosy patients, and the children looked a little bored. Then came a box of mixed raisins and sultanas; that would make a batch of buns for the weekend. Then, as I put my hand in again, I felt the ...could it really be? I grasped it and pulled it out; yes, a brandnew, rubber hot water bottle. I cried … I had not truly believed that could ever happen. Ruth was in the front row of the children. She rushed forward, crying out, ‘If God has sent the bottle, He must have sent the dolly, too!’ Rummaging down to the bottom of the box, she pulled out the small, beautifully dressed dolly. Her eyes shone! She had never doubted. Looking up at me, she asked, ‘Can I go over with you and give this dolly to that little girl, so she’ll know that God does really love her?’ That parcel had been on the way for five whole 41



ing, a company called Viagen, have already harvested cells from the bull and are ready to implant them into the egg of a suitable cow to produce an embryo that will grow into an identical copy containing the exact genetic information as the donor animal. The procedure is pretty much the same as that that produced the world’s first cloned animal, Dolly the sheep.

Cloning is a fairly emotive subject generally. Proponents argue that it is pushing forward the boundaries of medical science, with the potential for ending the suffering brought

on by many diseases; opponents believe that it is a gross interference with the natural order of things and, as a result simply wrong. Now, into the ring of this heated debate are likely to storm cloned offspring of one of Spain’s most famous creatures of the bullring – El Alcalde. El Alcalde (which means “the Mayor” in English) is a legendary giant amongst Spain’s fighting bulls and for the past 17 years has been a breeding champion, siring some of the countries most fearless and illustrious animals. But there naturally comes an end to the reproductive prowess of even the most legendary creatures and, for El Alcalde that time is very nearly up. His owner, Vitoriano del Rio is therefore on the brink of enlisting the help of medical science to ensure that the bull’s identical progeny run and run almost indefinitely. American experts in the field of animal clon44

At the moment, El Alcalde’s cloned cells sit in Viagen’s laboratories in Austin, Texas, where they are stored at minus-170 degrees, awaiting the simple harvesting of an egg from a surrogate cow and the completion of the cloning procedure. Here the cells have been stored for the past six months or so whilst owner del Rio waits for the necessary approvals from the European Union. According to the newspaper El Pais, that approval has now been forthcoming under guidelines that allow the cloning of animals that will not end up on the dinner table for human consumption. They are guidelines that have already allowed the cloning of a number of stud racehorses to ensure their bloodline. In the case of El Alcalde, the intended clone would itself be put out to stud when it matures at the age of two and the male offspring which the clone produces will then be destined to fight in the bullring. Now that official approval seems to have been granted, Vitoriano del Rio hopes that a clone of El Alcalde will be born during the course of this year at his ranch in Guadalix de la Sierra, about an hour’s drive north of Madrid. The clone would go to stud when it

El Alcalde, El Alcade … and more and more El Alcades is two years old and the sons should then be ready for the bullrings by 2016. The European guidelines which ban the cloning of animals for human consumption is understandable enough, given the huge areas of uncertainty and number of unknowns about the whole process of cloning. Yet many people will also balk at the prospect of animals being cloned for the sole purpose of perpetuating the bull-fighting spectacle. El Pais, for example, quoted a spokesman for the animal rights group Ecologistas en Acción, as saying: “It’s crazy to clone a bull in order to continue torturing and killing bulls in the rings. It seems barbaric”. If nothing else, it does seem rather a lot of trouble and expense to go to simply to secure a string of fighting bulls for eventual slaughter in an arena before the baying crowd. But the economics of the operation clearly make sense to El Alcalde’s owner. The clone is expected to sire around 40 bulls every year from the same identical and illustrious bloodline. Given that the rough cost of the cloning experiment is only £28,000, the potential return on the investment represents a handsome profit. Vitoriano del Rio – perhaps not unexpectedly – however, insists that he has been motivated by a sentimental attachment to the bloodstock represented by the champion El Alcalde as much as the mercenary business of profit. He concedes that cloning can guarantee only that the sucession of younger El Alcaldes will be genetically identical to the great champion himself. Whether they prove to be equally fearless fighters in the ring will depend on what del Rio calls their individual “character” He is quoted as saying that: “There’s no guarantee, as this is the first time it’s been done. When you want to advance

in science, you have to take a bet. They can only guarantee that the clone will have a 100 per cent of the original DNA, not, however, an identical fighting quality. For that we will have to wait and see”. Since the successful cloning of Dolly the sheep by the Roslyn Institute in Scotland in 1997, scientists have cloned a wide range of other animals, such as rats, rabbits, cats, horses and donkeys, cows and bullocks, pigs, goats and deer. The medical research has been aimed at ways of transferring human genes that produce useful proteins into the cloned animals to produce, for example, blood-clotting agents to treat haemophilia or other agents for the treatment of cystic fibrosis and other lung conditions. Cloned animals are also studied for their ability to reproduce human anitbodies against a wide range of infectious diseases and even cancers. Cloned animals and cloned cells, it is argued, can increase medicine’s understanding of embryonic development, the process of ageing and age-related diseases. Much of the current news of breakthroughs in cloning techniques have to do with saving certain animals from extinction or even reviving those that have already become extinct. This probably started with the successful cloning of an Indian Gaur in 2001 but has since expanded into many different species and breeds. The Spanish fighting bull, of course, is not on any list of endangered species and cannot qualify in this way for the science of cloning. It is likely, instead, to continue to outrage not only those who have an ethical objection to the whole principle of cloning but also those who would resist any further perpetuation of the sport of bullfighting.


How Sweet is my life?

from the absolutely wonderful (hedging my bets now) Coca Cola company and being thin? I think we all know that that the other “coke” does this pretty well and for the record we know that “coke” doesn’t contain coke. Clear…. If there is a relationship between sugar and being thin, I would rather leave it be. Not because of type 2 diabetes or other health problems.

Motril and sugar are synonymous. Now I don’t consider myself obese but at 19 stone I am considered morbidly obese on the BMI index. A few to many years without a gym, too much amber nectar and a perchance for a curry could have contributed to my needing to “lose a bit” I agree. It doesn’t help though when everywhere in Spain is sugar laden. Coffee bars full of cakes, Ice cream stands and parlours everywhere. It is like being in Willy Wonkers factory. Let me explain a little more. In the UK and USA you can buy literally anything sugar free. Here you can get Diet Coke. Now at the risk of the notoriously litigious Coca Cola company, I hate Coke.

Why then?

I might be persuaded occasionally to partake in a Coke “light” but where is the diet tonic, diet ginger ale for my scotch?

I believe in action and reaction. The young girls here in their teens, twenties and thirties generally are stunning, but here is the trade off.

Where is the Fanta “Light”, “Low Cal” 7 Up and sugar free Sprite?

I think the compromise made for the youthful figure generated by the high suger beverages has a penalty which seems to hit the Spanish ladies at around 35 to 40 years old.

Come to Spain and just forget about all choice UK and USA residents have. But what I don’t get is how do these girls sit drinking “full fat” Coke stay supermodel thin? Is there a correlation between Coke and being thin? – whoops, sorry maybe some more detail needed.

Somehow they turn into the chubby version of the wicked witch from the west overnight. For me, I’ll stay with Coca Cola “sin plomo”, I’ll stay fat, but I’ll not age 30 years overnight. What would you choose?

Is there a correlation between the high sugar drink Information and advice contained within this article is not neccesarily accurate and is in all likely hood “totally false”


Costa Tropical News March 2009  

The Costa Tropical News is the premier English Magazine for the Costa Tropical region of Spain. Packed with interesting stories, news and fe...