Wednesday, May 23, 2007

How to earn a holiday

Well this has been a fun few weeks for the nearest and dearest of FTC !!!

The wedding is now officially CLOSE! In fact, it is 4 weeks today as Keith so generously pointed out to me this morning. If I’m honest, I wish we were flying out tomorrow. But then there is a chance I might be a little excited.

The only slight issue in recent preparations has been that of the invisible, but nonetheless significant social chasm between UK and Gibraltar. For anyone not familiar with the place, this following account may give you a flavour of how Gibraltar views the service sector. 

For the Gib veterans, this will come as no surprise ...

A few weekends ago, Keith and I went down to Best Man Bill’s house for various reasons, including a cake tasting session to decide on what we would have at the wedding. Having slaved over a hot stove for a large part of Saturday afternoon we had a shortlist of 3 cakes, two of which would take pride of place at my Uncle’s for the wedding day feast. Having debated the relative merits of various flavours (and come to no firm conclusion other than it is possible to eat too much cake) I made an executive choice of baked vanilla cheesecake and a lemon drizzle cake.

I was informed by those in the know that the *only* place to order a cake in Gib was a certain shop on Main Street. That week, I dutifully scanned in the recipes we wanted to use (to avoid confusion) and emailed them over to the shop in question. Having heard nothing for a few days I decided to follow up with a phone call …..

“Oh Hello, my name is Natasha Garcia and I emailed you with some recipes for my wedd….”

“Yes you emailed us, hang on a moment … NIƇAAAAA, IT’S THE WOMAN WITH THE CHEESE WEDDING CAKE”

Hmmm, not a good start, but maybe it’s just the way she phrases things.


“Umm hello I’m the lady who sent you through the email about the wedding cakes”

Show no fear. If they sense weakness, they attack and you’ll put the phone down having ordered a chocolate mousse with hundreds and thousands

“Yes I saw your mail. The lemon drizzle cake is no problem but the other one we don’t do”

I must be imagining things …

“You don’t make cheesecake?”

“NOooooUUUU” …

Now, I know she only said No, but what I heard was “you crazy foreign woman, why on earth would we make a cake entirely of cheese. Who would ever want such a thing?!?”. Apparently, a century of popular pudding trends has entirely passed this place by. Two options here, convince her to try and make it following the recipe or go with something else.

… “We’ll do the lemon drizzle cake for 20, no?”

Ah fantastic, why didn’t I think of that … no hang on, that won’t work, we have citrus allergies going on so we’ll need another cake

“Umm, I’m afraid I need to have a cake with no citrus in it too. What else do you do?”

Please no sponge, please no sponge!!!

“We do a lovely carrot cake with icing on the top. But it has walnuts in it”

Run through the known allergies of all attending guests – clear!

“That would be lovely. Can we have the carrot cake for 10, and the lemon drizzle for 10 please”

Phew!! Drama over!!

“Of course!! You want me to put a little bride and groom on the top?”


“No thanks, just the icing”

“You want me to put some words?

“No thanks, just the icing”

“Or some ribbons?”

“No thanks, just the icing”

Oh please, for the love of god woman, just let me order my cakes!!

“You just want the icing?!”

Why do I get the impression that with those few well-chosen words, this woman is accusing me of either a) fabricating the fact that I’m getting married or b) implying that I am the shame of my entire family?

“Just the icing please”

………… silence …………

“So when is the wedding”

“the 20th June, but it’s at 10am”

I’ve come across this a few minutes ago with the flowers, you people don’t believe in opening until midday so I know you’re going to complain about ungodly hours – just to add to your general disgust at me and my foreign early rising ways.

“It’s at 10?!? Where is it?!?”


“At the Alameda”

“The cathedral?”

“No the Alameda”

Yes I am a godless wench who will burn in hell for all eternity

“And where are you going afterwards?”


“to Watergardens”

“OK you pick it up between the ceremony and the reception. We’ll have them ready for you”

yeah no worries, you’ll know who I am because I’ll be the one in the chuffing great white dress

See, this is the problem with coming from a place smaller than an average sized puddle and living somewhere tainted by such wild and heretical concepts as customer service.

Only four more weeks to go … nervous laugh

The one advantage to all the stresses of organizing a long distance (Earth to Mars perhaps??) wedding is that it throws into sharp relief the relaxing aspects of your life … like free ponds!!!

Having talked about water features, pumps, filters and other high tech gadgetry, the man of the house has now decided that the pond will be left au natural. I take it as code for “I couldn’t get a pump from freecycle” but still, I’m grateful for small mercies.

Having decided on the route we would take, it was of course necessary to start developing some kind of biological cycle in said water hazard so off to the Koi Centre we went. Several oxygenating plants, a lily, an iris, 3 freshwater mussels and a sacrificial carp later, we were left with this.

Not a bad start and it appears as if we have also bought the captain speedy of the mollusk world – one of the mussels spends his days doing doughnuts in the mud – which is actually a really great way to spend a few minutes and has certainly given me a newfound respect for them as a species.

Oooh, we’re also halfway to picking a bumper crop of fruit and veg, so don’t be surprised if you visit us and it’s tomatoes, peas and blueberries for dinner!!!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

What a Difference a Day Makes ...

Some days don’t have much to say for themselves. You get up, you go to work, you come home, kiss the other half, eat your dinner and go to bed.

Other days have a lot to say for themselves.

The 2nd May started in the usual sort of way, but by the time our heads hit the pillow, Keith and I had made a very important decision. We’re getting married.

*pause for readers to wipe spat coffee from screens and pick themselves back off floor*

It was all down to Pillock, his lovely wife Claire and their beautiful little daughter Callie. Not that they would know a thing about it yet. We were at Callie’s naming ceremony, and, as you sometimes do at these occasions, we started talking about the future, and about getting married.

We talked about a simple ceremony in the Alameda Gardens in Gibraltar with a small band of family and closest friends watching us from the Bridge of Sighs followed by a simple meal in a restaurant on the beach. We talked about wearing flip flops on our feet, about being there for a week and going on a sharking trip for a stag do. We talked about ending the day on a beach in La Linea looking at the rock with a bottle of champagne between us.

So that’s what we’re doing.

On the 20th June 2007 at 10am

*pause for readers to wipe spat coffee from screens and pick themselves back off floor*

A little short notice, I grant you, but what would be the fun in doing things the normal way?

This weekend was mainly filled with popping corks and toasting good health, but we managed to achieve another small step forward in the life of FTC. We installed the new frog nursery, otherwise known as the pond.

Reading back a bit, I see now that this event was inevitable and that I should count myself lucky that I can still walk back from work in relative safety. I should count myself doubly blessed that the pond was free, costing us only a little petrol money and a few near death moments in collecting it.

So Sunday morning Keith and veteran pondsman Bill took shovel in hand and started carving out a section of Bedfordshire countryside. Progress was swift and, more importantly, I was left alone to watch Inspector Morse re-runs while planning some details of the impending nuptials.

In need of something to use as ‘padding’ for the pond liner, the boys decided to use the old punch-bag we had inherited from the previous owner assuming that it contained sand. As you can see, they were slightly off but I think the blue rag look is slightly more becoming to the general Bohemia that is slowly taking over FTC thanks to the wonders of Freecycle (although the day Keith meets me at the door having proudly bagged a load of only "slighly soiled" loo roll, I'm off!!)

Having been dragged from the comfort of the sofa to witness the glorious feat of manly prowess taking shape in the garden, it seemed like too much fun not to join in, so the three of us began filling, and backfilling with gusto.

I have to admit, had I realised that less than 2 hours later we would have been finished and contemplating a celebratory drink, I probably wouldn’t have been so reluctant in the first place. Just goes to show, I suppose, what a bit of friendly encouragement can do.

So here it is in all its glory, the pond. In a few short months to be a home of frogs, fish and little multilegged thingames, a place of contemplation and general skiving from work, a drinking hole for the boys after a long tiring walk, and a constant trip hazzard after drunken nights out. Long may she thrive!!