Thursday, 11 February 2010

Unexpected guests in Lavapies

The title is a bit of a misnomer, no guests (be they roaches or leering drunks) in Lavapies are 'unexpected', even if they are unwelcome. Over the past week I have found a spider in my sugar bowl and just now another in my bed.....aaaarrgghhh... It's bad enough to find spiders, but especially in the stuff you eat and the place you sleep. Worse still, the latter beastie seems to think I am edible. A week ago I woke up with a really swollen and immovable arm that was literally agony to the touch and really hard to move, right in the centre of it was a little bite. This made my memory fleetingly jump back to an unfortunate summer camp incident in Loeches where my fellow camp leader was supposedly bitten by a common spider and rendered completely paralysed for 2 weeks. Anyway, back to my own immovable arm, I dismissed the spider idea, reminding myself that in the UK we have some enormous spiders but had never heard of anyone being bitten by one, I thought it was probably some sort of winter mosquito bite or something despite Spanish people's assurances that it was a spider... Anyway, about 10 minutes ago I changed my bed linen and was greeted by a sizeable arachnid who seemed to be camping out in my bed (I'm sorry to tell you I crushed it with a hairbrush). So, it looks like house spiders do bite, and that you can have quite nasty allergic reactions to them. I wonder how many more of these little nasties are lurking?  Luckily Madrid spidies are no bigger than a 50-pence piece, but still, they're not my ideal flatmates. And don't give me any of that spiders are our friends/they eat flies/they are more afraid of us than we are of them bu"& sh%* - I have a brain that is bigger than a grain of salt, so I'm sure I can feel fear much more astutely than a hairy sesame seed with 8 legs ;-)

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Surprising fact abut white tea (and no, it's not the antioxidants)

I've always been a huge fan of tea, whether it's 'builder's brew' (PGtips with milk and a hefty dose of sugar), Arabic mint tea or fancy loose leaf stuff. I tried to get into coffee briefly when all those coffee shops opened in the UK back in the 90s but the coffee was just bad and sitting outside in the rain on a 'continental style' pavement cafe with patio heaters just didn't do it for me. When I moved to Spain, where the coffee is pretty decent, I had another fleeting obsession with the brown beans but unfortunately I seemed to develop some of that curious stomach sensibility that's so common in Spain 'me ha sentado mal' (I could write reams about my Spanish friends and their delicate stomachs :-)) and drinking coffee lost some of its appeal. At some point it occurred to me that coffee simply made me jittery and nervous and gave me 'coffee breath' so I decided to call it a day. That's when I went back to my old friend tea; light, delicate, and according to all the medical and media hype, good for you too. While I was familiar with green and black teas I didn't know much about whites and was curious to try them as they contain more free-radical fighting anti-oxidants than any othe variety (meaning it could play a tiny part in the prevention of cancers and other ageing-related maladies). But white tea is sooo expensive, and to really benefit you need to drink quite a bit of it. However, the cost ceased to be an issue when I found out a little secret that most tea speciality tea shops fail to tell you - you can actually re-use fresh white tea leaves up to 3 times and you even get different flavours with each brew! And the same applies to many other quality loose leaf teas be they green black or Oolong. Needless to say I hastily made my way down to the lovely Tea Shop on c/Fuencarral and bought 100grams of white tea (of course they didn't tell me about the whole rebrewing thing). Will let you know how how I get on and if I suddenly revert to looking 18 again just from drinking white tea ;-)

Monday, 1 February 2010

Shopping - Hakei

After a month of working pretty hard I needed a bit of retail therapy today and found myself in Hakei on C/Arenal (8). Hakei has stores in Madrid, Barcelona, Malaga and the Basque Country but only came to my attention a year or so ago. Think of it as somewhere between Hoss (without the flounces and dramatic edge) and Comptoir des Cotonniers (without the children's range) but around 60% of the price. To be more specific I'd describe Hakei's style as urban, grown up, casual and sexy...but with no flesh on show. Ok, enough with the adjectives, but if we want to think of it in terms of other things I've posted here, think greige , because everything it sells is that colour. One word of warning, a friend who recently bought a top here said it didn't wash that well, but to be honest what really catches my eye in this store are the leather goods; rows and rows of comfortable yet stylish shoes, boots, belts and bags in the softest softest leather, in all shades of buff, grey, taupe and other neutrals which blend well together and with the clothes they sell. In fact I bought a pair of lovely taupe booties there today, so I'll let you know how they wear.

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