Another Bright Breakfast

I’m a football widow again with the start of the Premier League, Match of the Day is on… So here’s a lovely Fiesta Friday, Indulgent Breakfast post dedicated to all the people don’t really mind that teams won or lost yesterday on football pitches across the country.

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Tomato and Mozzarella

We bought the yellow and orange tomatoes at the supermarket a few days ago with the idea of putting them in salads, but we ended up eating out until this morning. I thought it would the colours would be lovely in a little breakfast salad tossed in oil and balsamic and basil, to go with our eggs and ham and bread and jugo de naranja.

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#100happydays Days 77 – 83

Day 77 – The 2014 World Cup in Brazil, marking the return of the Erasmus Fit List. Sitting with my Erasmus girls in the Irish Bar, or in the park or in the back row of our Historia del Arte Moderno class, we compiled a list of all the celebrities that we fancied. Every so often we try and add someone new to it.

Day 78 – Making fake skin and fake blood and even more disgustingly, fake pus with the Guides. For the Brownie’s 100th Birthday there is a challenge badge and this was one of the things. We were supposed to follow it up with a short first aid session but the girls decided to do a murder mystery treasure hunt for the Brownies, it sounded more fun so I didn’t stop them. In fact I think it was my idea…

Day 79 – Feeling blue? Glitter Mariachi are playing for you!

Day 80 – I saw this graffiti on my way to the pub to watch the England vs Uruguay game, after I’d stopped to call the Police for a drunken man passed out in the street. Doing my bit for society without voting UKIP.

Day 81 – My friends got married, outside! It was a beautiful day!

Day 82 – Putting the iPod on loud and having a sing-song in the car on the way home from the wedding.

Day 83 – I cleaned my engagement ring, Being blue it does get dull very easily and in some lights it even looks black, so I cleaned it and had forgotten how shiny and brilliant it is! Note to self – do this more often!

#100happydays Days 70 – 76

Day 70 – Getting ready for the World Cup with my favourite World Cup song! Ok, it’s four years ago – and France – but it always makes me giggle!

Day 71 – Nutella, and ice lollies and wine, basically. Something happened at work, so that was all that could make me happy that day.

Day 72 – Silly conversations, who would win out of Zeus and Huitzilopochtli?

Day 73 – The simple summer morning sunshine across the city. Beautiful!

Day 74 – Guess who I am supporting? Love casual Fridays!

Day 75 – My sister and her wife, being idiots as usual. Lovely weekend. We also went to choose my wedding dress.

Day 76 – Finally trying out Caffè Chino in The Arcadian, a Chinese vintage tea room in the heart of the Chinese Quarter, lovely!

Prayer for the Third Quarter

02 February 2014

Dear God, You and I have our issues, I know that in most other circumstances I would swear point-blank that you don’t exist. You’ve dealt me some pretty rough cards in life, but here I am talking to you again. It’s nothing life-threatening, nothing to do with health or finance or anything serious like that. It’s sport.

Please, please, give Peyton Manning and the Broncos the biggest come-back in Super Bowl history. Please, when I wake up, please let the Broncos have won. Thank you, Katherine

Less than 15 seconds in and the Broncos mess it up. Some dickhead threw the ball before they were ready and the Seahawks get the Safety*. And it set the tone for the whole game. The final score I found out this morning was 43-8, we got some points at least. The Seahawks are dirty though, they are young and bold and confident. But the amount of punching and shouting and… they’re just nasty.

We're ready!

We’re ready!

* Something to do with the defence catching the ball in the endzone.

Important Travel Tips : Mexico

My favourite view in Mexico

My favourite view in Mexico

Two wonderful weeks in Mexico – travelling between Metepec and Tequila via el DF, Querétaro and Guadalajara – requires some forward thinking. Which of course with Christmas and a house-buy looming, I didn’t bother doing – didn’t take enough clothes, the right type of clothes, didn’t have time to get pesos in the UK, booked my travel insurance the night before, and so on. I did buy a new guidebook that actually turned out to be pretty useful when we couldn’t find our way to Coyoacan, and even suggested a walking itinerary around the bohemian La Condesa district that we did, discovering new bars and parks and lovely little chocolate shops. So here are some travel tips for the more laid-back visitor :

  • Pack for the weather. Remember that Mexico doesn’t get much above 20º during Winter, so take more than just 9 sleeveless tops and dresses for the 16 days you’re going to be there. What the hell was I thinking? I think – I think, that brain was overloaded with moving-house-stress and the everlasting impression of that first year I went when it was boiling hot, all the time.
  • The flight is long, but lovely KLM give you a schedule of what films will be showing, and luckily as I fly there in December, and back in January I get a good variety for both ways. Check out the list before you go, and plan, because 12 hours in a plane is really boring unless you’ve got some good telly. I normally start off with a comedy TV, then a film and then TV again and so on until dinner-time.
  • Be really British and carry your brolly. When it rains it really rains. We took a road trip to Guadalajara, four and a half of the five hours driving were in the rain. Then when we got there it was like a ghost town with very few people in the streets, unfortunately left the city centre very grey and industrial looking, with few restaurants open.
  • Take cash with you. I tried nearly every cash machine I passed, but only two (out of about twenty) gave me any money. Make sure the bank know when you’re going away, mine did – but I still had to call a very nice lady at my bank who said it was to do with the chip. Unless you want to march into Banamex and have a go at the cashier.
  • It’s all about the breakfast. Or rather, brunch. Eggs cooked al gusto, with chilli, bacon, ham, tomatoes, mushrooms, onion, chorizo, then sweet breads, papaya, chilaquiles, frijoles, sopes, pineapple, tamales, potatoes, melon and tacos. Get up at 08h00, and prepare yourself for the biggest breakfast of your life, every day.
  • Driving in Mexico City is mad. Absolutely mad. But I never feel unsafe with Daniel driving, there’s a strange logic to it. Make sure you check the traffic before crossing the road because bikes and carts sometimes nip across on red.
  • Govenment protests happen. EPN spouting bollocks about how privatising the oil industry will be a good thing for Mexico sparked this one, cue “Peña, Mancera, la misma chingadera!”
Privatising Pemex, NO!!

Privatising Pemex, NO!!

  • Mariachi is basically the happiest job in the world. See Mariachi, they’re normally hawking round Reforma actually, and they always pose for the camera, even if they’re mid-song!
  • Learn the two basics, “Soy guëra, pero no soy gringa” (I’m blonde but I’m not American). And the “excuse me” rule, Excuse me 1 : To get someone’s attention = Disculpe. Excuse me 2 : To squeeze past someone = Con Permiso. Excuse me 3 : To say sorry = Perdón.
  • Valet Parking is amazing! You can drive straight up to the city centre restaurant, throw your keys at the guy, drink for the next six hours and and still drive home. Luckily the night we drank for six hours was really close to the house so we actually walked there. On the same note, three jagerbombs, six bottles of Corona and a whiskey and orange are actually a really good cure for jet-lag.
  • Everything is spicy. If a Mexican says it’s not, don’t believe them. “You put green chilli, then molé, then this other spice, but it’s not very spicy in the end”. Erm, yes it is, I’m not eating that.
  • Carry a few extra pesos with you. The cute factor is everywhere, children selling sweets, children doing acrobatics at the traffic lights, children just asking for money straight out in their torn jeans and dirty shoes.
  • Remember that the politics here is corrupt. A driving license costs you 250 pesos no questions asked. The national football team won the Olympic gold medal, but the Mexican FA won’t invest in player development, so games are left full of advertising and no substance. Then the last thing the government privatised was the railways, and all that’s left of that is three tourist trains, all the rest of the money left Mexico, or went straight into the politicians pockets.
  • Love the country and its people. The country has so much to be proud of, such a progressive and tolerant nation in some ways, but so humble in others. Yes the divide between rich and poor is very noticeable, but buy the little girl an ice cream, and give the little acrobatic boy at the traffic lights your 10 pesos, it’s 11pm and he should be at home in bed in the warm. But love every bit of this puebla, meet people and enjoy this rich, warm-hearted nation.
I heart MEX

I heart MEX

Job Snob

There’s a lot on the news today about young people being “job snobs”. In such an economic crisis someone with let’s say – a First in History or Biochemistry or even Equine Studies – should be happy stacking shelves or cleaning toilets of the big firms they want the job with.

My opinion is this : If the government think that people who worked for three years at university and got good results are going to be happy in these jobs they are seriously mistaken. I give you two examples.

  1. A girl studies Biology with a year abroad, four years studying and she got a 2:1. She couldn’t find a job in her industry because she was very shy at interviews, she ended up working in Poundland for a year before finding a job in a museum, she’s now studying for another qualification that’s more useful for that.
  2. A girl studies languages, she didn’t want to do the normal language career of being a translator or a teacher. So she gets a second degree, a Master of Arts. Then she’s very fussy and out of work for five months while looking for a job with languages. Finally she gets one in Export at a big company, and loves speaking the languages all day long.

The first girl was a good friend of mine, we lost touch a few years ago. That second girl is me. I was a statistic, one of those millions of people claiming benefits in 2007. Even back then before the crisis I couldn’t understand why the Job Centre felt I would accept a job in a supermarket or a retail shop. I admit maybe I went out clubbing more than I should have, or watched TV rather than made a start on that essay – but I still went to university to study and gain a qualification to help me up the career ladder.

We might be in the midst of an economic crisis, but we need to put the right people in the right jobs. The immigrant fresh from Poland or Lithuania might kill for that warehouse job but his English might hinder him in interviews, or that university biology graduate with no experience might actually flourish with a bit of guidance in that low-paid-but-first-step-on-the-ladder office clerk job in a pharmaceutical company.

RANT OVER…

Apparently in the USA you can live this American Dream, go to college on a “football scholarship”. This I have only learnt from films really, so you can be crap at everything else but good at sport and still get in. I think you have to do two subjects no matter what, a Major and a Minor. That’s what I like about the UK, you can do both equally, I don’t think I could have chosen between Spanish and French. But that’s how you get noticed, it’s the same thing, you want to play football so you play at college. College football is big news in the US, here it’s a rainy Wednesday afternoon at a neighbouring uni. And nobody’s brilliant at it anyway because they actually went to uni for Business Studies or Sociology because they want to run a tech start-up with a few friends, or work in local government.

My next post will be about College Football, I promise!