One could almost hear the howls of anguish from expats across Europe this month, and Joe’s was probably the loudest. We’d been warned, although I don’t think anybody really believed it was going to happen. But it did. One day all the BBC channels simply vanished from our screens.
“No BBC1 or BBC2?” asked Joe, desperately punching the buttons on the remote control, scrolling through the channels.
“No BBC3? Or 4?”
NO SATELLITE SIGNAL IS BEING RECEIVED advised the message on the otherwise blank screen.”No news? No Match of the Day? No golf? No rugby?”
“All gone,” I sighed. “I understand they’ve replaced the old Astra satellite, which means UK residents will get a better picture, but the footprint is smaller. Viewers in Spain and the rest of Europe won’t get anything.”
“No darts, no tennis? No World Cup?” Joe slumped back on the cushions in despair.
“Well, at least we have all the ITV channels,” I said. “And maybe it’ll force us to watch more Spanish TV, we’ve always meant to. It’ll help us brush up on our Spanish.”
I won’t reproduce Joe’s reply here, it might offend, but even he agreed that ITV was better than nothing, despite the adverts.
To be fair, Joe hasn’t had a good month. We were always aware that he had high blood pressure, but he refused to do anything about it. To my relief, after constant nagging, I finally managed to steer him to the doctor to get it checked. The doctor examined him thoroughly, made copious notes, then presented Joe with two huge plastic containers.
“What are they for?” asked Joe.
“You must collect all your urine for 24 hours. Then you must take it to the hospital for testing.”
“Really? Well, I won’t need both of these containers, will I?”
But he did.
On his next visit to the doctor Joe was presented with something different. This time he had to wear a ‘halter’ for 24 hours. A band was wrapped around his upper arm, attached to a little machine at his waist. At half hour intervals the machine beeped shrilly, the band inflated and his blood pressure reading was recorded. Later, as he stood in line at the supermarket checkout, the machine beeped and his fellow customers looked around, wondering where the beeping was coming from. The checkout girl muttered and checked her till, convinced it was malfunctioning.
It was an uncomfortable day and night for Joe.
The doctor analysed the readings and prescribed tablets. A couple of weeks later he measured Joe’s blood pressure again and was pleased with the results. I was delighted that Joe had finally accepted treatment, and that it was working.
One might think that our way of life isn’t very stressful. After all, we are retired and no longer go to work. But something always seems to sky-rocket Joe’s blood pressure to dizzying heights.
Ten days after losing all our BBC channels, Joe switched on the TV to watch the early evening news. He hates advertisements with a passion and the ITV channels are awash with them. By now he’d just about accepted them as a necessary evil, and at least we could watch the British news.
Now he stared at the screen in disbelief.
NO SATELLITE SIGNAL IS BEING RECEIVED.
Joe’s roar could be heard several villages away. “WHAT? Have they taken away ITV too?”
Sadly, it was true.
I’m very pleased that Joe’s blood pressure has been stabilised with medication. I think that final blow may have sent it over the edge.
This month’s Spanish recipe
Leche Frita (Fried Milk)
Makes about 20 to 25 squares
5 to 8 minutes preparation
25 minutes cooking
3 hours chilling
250g (83⁄4 oz) plain flour
150g (51⁄4 oz) sugar
150g (51⁄4 oz) butter
500ml (17 US fl.oz) whole milk
4 eggs, separated
150g (51⁄4 oz) fine breadcrumbs
Olive oil for frying
1 small cinnamon stick
Peel of 1⁄2 a lemon
Extra sugar (or icing sugar) for dusting
1. Sieve 175g (6.oz) of flour into a bowl. In a saucepan, melt the butter and add the sifted flour. Stir together and cook gently on the lowest heat. Add the sugar, stir again, and continue cooking slowly.
2. Heat the milk, cinnamon stick and lemon peel, in another pan, to just below boiling point.
3. Strain and add the contents to the pan with the sugar, butter and flour, stirring all the time.
4. When the mixture starts to bubble, remove from the heat.
5. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, making sure each is mixed in before you add the next. Stir well to achieve a smooth, thick batter.
6. Oil a shallow baking tin (or dish) and pour in the mixture, Shake the tin/dish to level it out.
7. Place the tin in the fridge and leave to set for 2 to 3 hours.
8. Once set, remove from the fridge and cut the batter into small squares or rectangles.
9. Lightly beat the egg whites (from earlier).
10. Dip each square into the egg whites, the remaining flour, and then the breadcrumbs.
11. Heat the oil in a small, deep pan and fry the coated squares in batches until golden all over.
12. Drain on kitchen towel and dust with sugar (or icing sugar) and extra cinnamon (if required).
Delicious with fruit puree!
by Victoria Twead.
Victoria is a New York Times bestselling author. In 2004 she nagged poor, long-suffering Joe into leaving Britain and relocating to a tiny, remote mountain village in Andalucía, where they became reluctant chicken farmers and owned the most dangerous cockerel in Spain. Village life inspired Victoria’s first book, Chickens, Mules and Two Old Fools, and was quickly followed by two more in the Old Fools series, all of which fast became Amazon bestsellers.
Victoria and Joe continue to enjoy life keeping chickens, writing, sampling the local wine and living alongside their colourful neighbours.
Read Victoria's other Expat Focus articles here or click the button below to view her own blog…