Tuesday, 28 April 2009


No, this is not about smoking. It's about functionarios, those irritating people who sit behind desks in Spanish government organisations and some big businesses and take great delight in saying 'no' to you, whatever your request might me.

First of all, I remembered this morning that it would be a good idea to tell my bank that I've moved. It never occurred to me that my word on this, combined with a spot of ID would not be enough. No, I need to show them 'justificante' - justification/evidence/proof of my new address. A bill, or a rental contract or suchlike. Bugger.

And then I had to post a book to England. I've previously had problems with Correos (Spanish Post Office) about this. There is a special rate for books and periodicals, and it is substantially less than the normal rate. For some reason, counter staff at Correos offices either do not know this, or they have some humungous fiddle going on. I eventually had most of the staff at my local Post Office in Chueca trained not to mess with me on the subject of what it should cost to post a book.

Now, of course, I've moved, and I have to start the whole staff training process all over again. The first session, this morning, did not go well. I presented the Jiffy bag containing the book (the word 'libro' written on it with a 5mm thick marker pen) to the funcionario, who slapped it on the scales and pronounced it would be 9.80 Yoyos.

No, I said, it's a book. There is a special price for books, normally 3-4 Yoyos.
No, there isn't, he said.
Yes, there is, I replied.
And so on.

Eventually he went to consult with the manager (ha, he's now sharing half of the proceeds with her) and came back and said no.

I paid the money, pointedly waited for a receipt, got his name, and will be back tomorrow with printouts from their website, ready to raise merry hell.

Watch this space for updates.

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Around And About

I promised you some picture of our new neighbourhood, so here goes. Actually, where we live is nothing like this. These picturesque / falling down / ramshackle houses are further down the road, overlooking a small park in a valley.

See the mountains in the background - still a bit of snow on them.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Diseño Web, Diseño Gráfico, Madrid, España

The Spanish version of our website is now live, if you're interested.

Diseño Gráfico, Madrid, España, Sitios Web, Páginas Web

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Neighbourhood Loony

I've been whinging about the weather a bit recently, because it has been poo. But today we witnessed the welcome return of El Sol. I didn't know it was going to be hot and sunny, in fact it was quite nippy when I left the flat for a 9am meeting. So I was wearing a shirt, sweater and chunky leather jacket. It was quite a long meeting, and I went shopping immediately after it.

This was not the usual local shop. I was on a mission to get some bread flour*. The nearest place I've found for this is Carrefour Express at Cuatro Caminos - three Metro stops or a ten-minute bus ride away. I left the shop laden with four pretty heavy carrier bags, and got the bus home. Unfortunately, it was the wrong bus. It goes about two-thirds of the way, and then turns off.

I jumped off the bus, and decided that I would not wait for another one. It was only a ten-minute walk back to the flat. But after a short while, the carrier bags were cutting into my fingers, the heat was making me sweat, and a solution was needed. I stopped and rummaged in my jacket pockets. I am the proud owner of two nifty pieces of hard plastic that can be clipped onto the loops of a supermarket bag to form a comfortable grip that doesn't cut off the circulation in your digits. I normally carry them in a jacket pocket, just in case I need them.

Wrong jacket.

But I did find my suede gloves. I am now recognised by at least a dozen people in my locality as the Brit nutcase who wears a heavy leather jacket and gloves on the hottest days.

*You know I like to bake my own bread. You really need 'strong' bread flour for this. You can use normal flour, but the result tends to be a bit leaden. 'Strong' flour has more gluten in it, which makes the dough rise more and gives a lighter texture.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Lost For Words

Lost for words. Not often that happens to me. I've been wanting to get out and take some photos of my new barrio to delight you with. But for the last two or three days we have seen the return of winter. Cold, windy, overcast, raining quite a bit and even a minor hailstorm a few days ago. So, it hasn't been great photography weather. Okay, I know you can take great photos in any kind of weather, but for these shots I want yer actual blue sky and sunshine. Ah well, it will come.

Apart from that, I haven't been blogging much because I've been Authonomising too much. You know about Authonomy.com, because I've told you. You've forgotten? Oh, well it's publishers HarperCollins' automatic self-filtering slushpile for aspiring authors. My current book, Tybalt & Theo, is doing quite well. It's bobbing up and down between 30 and 40 on the all-time popularity chart. But it's a real effort to keep it there: you have to read and comment on 4-5 books a day just to keep still (virtually the only way you can get anyone to read your work is for you to read theirs). It's quite hard work.

And we haven't completely sorted out the new flat yet: I'm threatened with an evening of putting up pictures and wall-hangings and stuff.

Normal service will be resumed...eventually.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Splendid New Website

Spent the last week building my new website. Hopefully it'll bring in some business.

Check it out here: MadRed website and graphic design, Madrid, Spain.

Cool eh?