A Lidl bit of home comfort…

If you’ve read any of my previous posts, you may have been able to tell that I’ve had a bit of a problem in the shopping department. This may go some way to explain why I feel I have to play Trolley Dash every weekend (see post: I’m packing heat…).

I put my hands up, I am a bit of a shopaholic. It’s genetic. No really, ask my mum.

The problem is, where I’ve been staying there are no good shops! No lovely familiar chain stores that you can count on to be in every decent sized English town or city. No Apple store to easily acquire things like chargers or headphones. No Debenhams or Topshop, H&M or Primark, Boots or…*stares wistfully into the distance*

There are some lovely little clothing boutiques, but the prices are extortionate in some, or just plain above my budget in others (€89 for a top anyone?). Also it is inevitable in these shops that you will have to face one (or sometimes even both if you’re really unlucky) of the two assistant archetypes.

To explain: type one is the over-friendly shop assistant, who will attempt to “help” you at every turn, despite your protestations that you really can try those jeans on in the changing room by yourself, and no you don’t need her to help you get the other leg in. Type two, the stink-eye shop assistant, whose eyes burn into the back of your head as you pretend to look at the jumpers whilst planning your escape (too casual an exit and you’ll look like you really have stolen something…and oh god she’s still looking).

A encounter with either will be painstakingly awkward enough to know that it should be avoided at all costs. Especially if you don’t buy anything and its just you and them…you and them…like an old country and western film…*cue music*…

Out here, theres the added problem that these models come in BETA, read: are programmed to speak Spanish and recognise all other shop goers as Spanish. I’m good, but not that good. I’m also pale, blonde, blue eyed so I don’t know why this is…

As a result of this, I have therefore decided to take up residence in Lidls, and the Mercadona, which if you squint really hard, could just be a little old English Tesco’s or ASDAs.

They’re cheap, cheerful and have tiny little metre long beauty/toiletry sections that abate the pangs of homesickness a little.

Apparently I’m not the only one, the only other British people I’ve seen on the whole trip were the ones in the queue at Lidl, complaining that there weren’t enough checkouts open…*facepalm*

Ohh the Mercadona has just brought in Rice Krispies squares…must dash…!

P.S. Like a magpie to silver, I also spotted an ALDI here in Laredo, but google have clearly decided it’s not important enough for Maps, so in my attempt to get to it I got terribly lost and ended up at the Circus…

P.P.S. Raspberry dark chocolate for under a Euro anyone? Yes please.

Unplugged and insane…

One of the biggest problems I’ve faced while out here is connectivity. Or lack thereof.

The savvy packer I am (not), I managed to bring two iPod leads with me for charging instead of the crucial one for my iPad. I later found out that it had fallen under my bed, so it wasn’t entirely my fault…

This proved to be a huge problem for staying in touch with everyone at home. It was especially annoying as the sole reason I had gotten an iPad now (instead of at the start of uni) was so that I could use it while I travelled (complete with military style rubber case and screen protector, chill).

In the first month alone, I ran up a £60 bill on my crappy HTC as my service provider didn’t validate the travel boosters I bought, and almost gave my mum a heart attack.

Why didn’t you just buy one out there? You ask, confused…

Well as it turns out, despite visiting every phone shop within a five mile radius of Benicassim (where I was staying for the first month), I couldn’t fine one bloody shop that sold chargers for the new iPads. Le sigh.

As a child of the Internet generation, I was suitably flummoxed, but no fear, I still had my iPod and my Kindle, right? Lying on the beach listening to music and reading the books that I’d bought but not gotten round to reading (I may even post something about my favourite summer reads) was quite lovely.

Until my earphones broke.

And my kindle decided that it would not connect to any other wifi network than my one back in England, so my reading selection was exhausted.

For a brief period I was stranded, marooned, shipwrecked…(insert synonym here). Every time I switched my iPad on to be faced with the no charge icon, it was like a physical pain.

Ok so that’s a bit dramatic. I still had my phone connected to the wifi, but that things so slow it made me want to hurl it from the terrace into the sea. To get this wifi, I also had to stand outside and lean over the balcony, as it was provided by the local library and the signal strength was awful.

Did this brief period of untethered-ness help me to “find myself”? To become more in tune with the beauty that is our planet?

Not exactly. But it was a bit of a change, and an abrupt one at that, to be, on my first ever time alone away from home, completely separated from friends and family.

I can’t even say what a relief it was when my mum, blurry and naked save for a towel (don’t ask), flashed up on Skype (I’m glazing over the arduous process it took to get her set up on there from a different country). It turns out that Laredo, the place I wasn’t looking forward to visiting as much (later…patience, patience!), had a little Movistar shop CON CARGADORES! That’s chargers for you and me.

So please excuse me…

Me and Siri need a little time alone….

P.S. Apparently in America, Siri is a woman. Weird. My Siri is a rather lovely gentleman who tells me where to hide dead bodies.

P.P.S. We did try to post my charger from England, but as of now, it has yet to arrive. Royal Mail I’m looking at you…naughty…

I’m packing heat…

…well I’m packing biscuits…and chocolate, and crisps…

Even though I have been here a while, I have yet to fully adjust to the Spanish meal timetable. Lunch at 2:30? Dinner at 9:30 or, god forbid, 10:30 at night, when you should be sleeping not eating? It goes against every diet book ever published, “don’t eat after 7pm” they say, well woah, the message has not quite reached the Mediterranean!

I find myself starving between meals, and not wanting to eat the family out of house and home (more on this ‘etiquette’ later), or make them feel as though they’re not giving me enough for each meal (they are, they are perfect meal time portions), I have instead perfected a covert operation to gather between-meal sustenance. Mostly junk food, because, lets face it, I’m not going to smuggle apples.

I am like a squirrel gathering his nuts for winter, a bear filling up with food so that he has a comfortable layer of fat to hibernate on, an ant…okay you get the picture…

The trips go a little like this…

Dress in inconspicuous summer clothes
Make room in too large handbag
Ensure there are aplenty Euros to buy contraband
Tell family I am going for a walk
Walk to nearest supermarket of choice (of which I have located all suitable candidates in each location)
Buy contraband
Return home
Use body as shield to block conspicuous, lumpy and larger-than-when-I-left handbag
Unload contraband into suitcase
Hide under large brimmed beach hat (casually obvs, you don’t want it to look deliberate)
Feel guilty
Retrieve when necessary

I have been doing this since I got here and all in all it has worked out well. The family are none the wiser and I am less emaciated.

Don’t look at me like that

Anyway in order to have a balanced diet you need a bit of junk with all that fish and vegetables, it’s on the chart.

IT’S ON THE CHART!

No? Okay fine…