Home » Tales from a Spanish Village: Two Old Fools and Queuing

Tales from a Spanish Village: Two Old Fools and Queuing

Nobody enjoys queuing although most of us accept it as a necessary evil. Queuing and Joe are like cats and water; he hates it. He grumbles and heckles loudly which makes me shrivel with embarrassment as people turn to stare. It amazes me that no shops have banned him from entering their premises.

“Why don’t you wait outside?” I suggest but he ignores me, preferring to stand with me and complain at the top of his voice. It has come to the point where I now send him shopping alone as queuing with him is a nightmare.

I must say, I prefer the polite British attitude to queuing.You know exactly where you are, who is in front and who is behind. This concept is ignored in our part of Spain and whoever elbows his way through first, gets served. Our local chemist, or farmacia, has just adopted the ticket system.

Simple, take a ticket from the machine and wait for your number to show on the screen. Even Joe was pleased.

“How did you get on in the chemist?” I asked when Joe returned from shopping.

“It was awful, you won’t believe what happened.”

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I groaned, wondering what had annoyed him this time. ´

“Why, what happened?”

“I pulled ticket #63, and when it was my turn, this baggage pushed in front of me. I jumped forward, showed her and the assistant my ticket, but the baggage still got served before me! So I stood back and waited. By the time she’s finished, #64 is being called and another old goat barged past me.”

“Oh dear.”

“She shows me her #64 ticket, and points to the screen showing #64, so the assistant serves her!”

“So what did you do?” I dare to ask.

“Do? DO? I exploded!”

What a surprise, I think to myself.

“I showed everybody my ticket and told them what I thought of their queuing system. When the number changed again, I marched up to the counter, but so does another customer.

The assistant looked at us, from one to the other. Everybody is watching now. I waved my ticket at the crowd, pointing at the number: ticket #63. She looked again at the screen, and the other man’s ticket. Then she raised her eyebrows, not sure who to serve. So she looked at the other waiting customers in question. ‘Who’s next?’ she asks.”


“All the other customers swung around. ‘Him! Him!’ they said simultaneously, pointing at me, knowing I would erupt again.”

I had to laugh but I was very glad I hadn’t been there. Even the Spanish couldn’t wait to get rid of Joe. Do you see what I have to put up with?

Spanish Recipe


Crema Catalana is a very popular dessert in bars and restaurants. You can easily buy pre-made ones but the homemade version is by far the best. It is basically homemade custard with a topping of caramelised sugar. Simple but delicious.

5 minutes preparation

15-20 minutes cooking, plus cooling time

Makes 6 – 8 puddings

200g (7 oz) sugar
120 ml (4 fl.oz) milk
750 ml (25.5 fl.oz) milk
6 egg yolks
3 tablespoons cornflour
Cinnamon stick
Peel of ½ a lemon

1. Beat 150g (5 ½ oz) sugar and the egg yolks together in a bowl.
2. Pour 750ml (25.5 fl.oz) milk into a saucepan with the cinnamon stick and the lemon peel and bring to the boil.
3. As soon as the milk has boiled, remove from the heat and strain the milk into the bowl with the eggs, whisking continuously until they are blended together.
4. Dissolve the cornflour into the 120ml (4 fl oz) of milk and stir into the larger milk mixture (which will now be custard)
5. Pour the custard back into the pan and cook on a very low heat stirring all the time until it just starts to gently bubble.
6. Remove from the heat and strain into small shallow cazuelas or dishes (straining the custard will remove and lumps which may have formed.) Allow the custard to cool so it is quite solid.
7. To serve, sprinkle each dish with the remaining sugar and then caramelise by heating a small metal spatula (until it is red hot) and placing on the sugar for a few seconds. Or place under a very hot grill for a few seconds, long enough to caramelise the sugar.

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…

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