Old Fools Blog
Victoria Twead nagged her long-suffering partner, Joe, into moving from England to Spain in 2004. They settled into a tiny mountain village in Andalucía, became reluctant chicken farmers and ended up owning probably the most dangerous cockerel in Spain. Victoria’s hilarious record of their culture shock and life with the villagers is told in her book, ‘Chickens, Mules and Two Old Fools’ and the sequels.
Another season is drawing to a close, can you believe it? Joe and I have never once suffered from homesickness since we left England in 2004. We adore everything about our life in El Hoyo; the people, the weather, the food and the slow pace of life centred around families. If only our family weren’t so far away…
When Joe’s birthday came along this year, I knew we’d never match the birthday he had when Spain won the World Cup, but I still wanted to do something a little different to mark the occasion.
It’s barbecue time! Use any combination of your favourite vegetables. Try aubergine, courgette (zucchini) and cherry tomatoes.
We’ve lived in El Hoyo for ten years now and love nearly everything about Spain; the weather, the food, our village, our neighbours. Even so, there is one thing that is difficult to come to terms with.
These pictures sent to me are just too good! Guaranteed to make you smile. You need to look carefully, then you’ll suddenly see the gross ineptitude… Hehehe
It’s been a fantastic month, with Camel hitting the New York Times bestseller list. But why is it that Joe and I seem to lurch from one domestic crisis to the next?
I always thought that the Annual Fiesta in our little village was crazy, but there is another I’ve just heard about that really takes the biscuit!
This is one of our favourite tapas dishes that goes well with a cold beer, or as a supper snack. It combines some beautiful, authentic Spanish flavours, like prawns from the Mediterranean, Fino sherry from Jerez, and smoked paprika. It’s a combination that can be enjoyed at any time and is particularly delicious eaten outdoors.
I opened my laptop this morning and ran my eye down the emails that had arrived overnight. Two lovely letters from readers. Some pictures of my granddaughter from Australia. A couple of invitations to join online casinos and other spam.
And an email from Amazon. I clicked it open…
This is what it said: Continue reading
When first ‘Chickens’, then ‘Camel’ became Amazon bestsellers, I didn’t think things could get any better. But I was wrong.
Nature has been playing tricks on us here in Spain. Some days we’ve been fooled into thinking summer has arrived, with clear blue skies and scorching sun. I packed away our winter clothes but soon regretted it.
At the bottom of our mountain, an elderly farmer sits on an upturned crate beside his ancient car at the side of the road. The wind is cold, and the old man wears woollen gloves and a scarf, his shoulders hunched in a heavy coat. Under his flat cap, he watches the traffic pass, waiting for people like us who can’t resist his wares.
I’m a British author living up a mountain in Spain. I’m supposed to be writing the fourth book in my Two Old Fools series but have got a little sidetracked with this Book Corner project. But I’ll begin at the beginning, and explain how it all began…
Book #4 is coming along, and my thoughts have been turning to what recipes to include. Then it struck me, why not ask my readers for recipes? I have quite a few recipes already, but it would be fantastic if I could use yours, too!
Living in southern Spain, we are surrounded by orange orchards. From Christmas time to the end of March, the trees are laden down with oranges, lemons, limes and tangerines.
Today’s special guest is Cheryl Kaye Tardif, an international bestselling author from Edmonton, Alberta, who has just released her terrifying new thriller, SUBMERGED. I’ve invited her to drop by and share something chicken-related during her official SUBMERGED Blog Tour…
You’re probably all familiar with the deadly game of “Playing Chicken.” Usually this is a teen thing; drive towards oncoming traffic and the most cowardly veers off at the last minute—hence, he’s the “chicken.” Why would someone do this? For the adrenaline rush, some say. Or for the honor of being thought of as the bravest. Or because they think they have something to prove to others.
We don’t seem to have had a regular winter here in Spain this year. February is usually the coldest, wettest month of the year, but this February has been glorious. It’s been wall-to-wall blue skies and sunshine, very little rain, and not a single snow-flake. (I’m not complaining, although Paco next door shakes his head and says it’s not good for the olive and grape harvest this year.) The lack of rain probably explains this unusual event…
No, they’re not Spanish, or Arabic, but I think they’re great! Perfect for Easter, and a wonderful way to use up surplus eggs.
Moira Ashton posted them onto my Facebook timeline. I believe the idea originally came from **Everything Holiday**.
Curious questions? Would I answer Tim’s curious questions? Well, why not!
I’ve never made schnitzels before, but my friend and website designer, Elle, assured me that it was very easy. She’s right, it’s a bit fiddly, but delicious and well worth the effort.
It’s that time of year again, and I don’t mean Valentine’s Day. I mean the time when Spain’s most dangerous creatures appear.
I’m talking about the Pine Processionary caterpillars that make nests in the pine trees of Spain. Don’t underestimate them, they are deadly. Keep your pets away from them, and don’t try to destroy them yourself.
If you are holidaying in Spain at this time of year, BEWARE.
Receiving post has always been a tad problematic since we moved to El Hoyo, our village in the mountains of Spain. In the old days, mail used to arrive by mule, but we’ve definitely progressed since then. Haven’t we?
Is it really more than five months since that long-awaited phone call from Australia, telling me that my first grandbaby was born? Five months since Indy Grace entered the world? Five months since I saw my first picture of her, at just seven minutes old? Five months since I wrote Indy her first letter? Continue reading
Hurrah! Just in time for Christmas, Two Old Fools on a Camel was published! Joe edited it, and it’s been professionally edited again by the lovely Mindy Sampson. My son designed the cover, Ant Press converted it for Kindle, Kobo and iPad, so there was nothing left to do except chew my nails and wait for readers’ reactions… Continue reading
I like the colour red. I thought about the significance of that colour as I gave my latest book, ‘Two Old Fools on a Camel’, which describes our year in the Bahrain, a final check before publishing. We’ve enjoyed eight Christmases in El Hoyo, our village in the Spanish mountains, and one in the Middle East.
Of course they differ hugely, but the colour red is significant in both.
Long before we moved to El Hoyo in 2004, Joe’s been forgetful. Before now, he’s put the phone in his sock drawer, and he’s locked the keys in the boot of the car countless times.
Once he left the engine running in our parked car the whole time we were shopping, around two hours. He’s left the chickens’ gate open, allowing them to range freely through my precious raised flower beds, leaving nothing but stalks. Get the idea?
On the other side of our valley, there’s a holiday house owned by Brits. They rarely use it and most of the time it stands locked and unused.
In the last week of August, Geronimo and his mule passed our house and stopped to bang on our door. Continue reading
I first came across Scott Bartlett and his wacky book, ‘Royal Flush’, back in 2009. The writing made me laugh then, and so did the author, a charming young Canadian. The novel is finished and published now, collecting a prestigious award along the way. If you like quirky, well-written humour, you’ll love this!
Victoria Twead Continue reading
Hello Indy Grace,
We haven’t met yet, but I’m your grandmother. Welcome to the world, little one. The world is a big place, and you and your Mum and Dad live in Australia, on the other side of the world. We live in Spain, but that isn’t going to stop us coming to see you as often as we can. Continue reading
It all began last month when I got up in the middle of the night and came to the kitchen for a glass of water. I switched on the light and, to my horror, saw black shapes scuttling into the shadows. Cockroaches! I ran back to the bedroom and woke Joe.
“Joe! We’ve got cockroaches in the kitchen!” Continue reading
Hurrah! All the decorating is finished, inside and out. We’ve splashed white paint into every nook and cranny and everything looks fresh and clean. Joe’s bad back is better, although he still complains about his scraped knees (from kneeling on the roof), his bruised thumb (trapped under a plank of wood) and gashed finger (changing a light bulb). Continue reading
When Joe and I decided to move to Spain, we knew we wanted to live in the country and were determined to leave the rat-race behind. We wanted mountain views, wildlife, big open spaces and the experience of fitting into Spanish village life. So, for us, El Hoyo was the perfect choice, if full of surprises…
Karen McCann is a fellow expat living in Spain and author of a very witty, engaging book called Dancing in the Fountain. Unlike Joe and I, she and her husband chose city life and are extremely happy in Seville. This is how they found their house… Continue reading
When Joe and I moved to a tiny Spanish mountain village, we weren’t planning to keep chickens. Our next-door neighbour insisted we should, and eight years later, we still have chickens.
There are plenty of ‘How to Keep Chickens’ books, but we’re still learning… Here are 10 more unusual things I’ve learned about keeping chickens: Continue reading
Spring has most definitely sprung. In our valley, Joe and I can see and hear the frantic activity all around us. The birds are at their noisiest and busiest, building nests, finding mates and packing as much as they can into each day. Sparrows, bee-eaters, a pair of kestrels, swallows, cuckoos, owls, all in our valley, all in over-drive.
I love these photos. Very hard to choose a favourite!
Joe and I were sorting out boxes, unopened and stored since my parents died in 1993.
Imagine our astonishment when we came across a complete manuscript called ‘Horizon Fever’ written by A E Filby, my uncle. It describes his 37,000-mile journey from London to Cape Town, and back again, in various motor cars, including an Austin 20 which is now displayed by the British Motor Museum (see pic below). Continue reading
I love opening emails from readers. Some just say nice things, some tell me about their own lives, and others send photos of their pets or wildlife. Continue reading
Can you believe it? It’s exactly one year since Joe and I were under house arrest in the Middle East. Spring was the only thing on our minds then, but it was the Arab Spring, not the seasonal one. So this spring in El Hoyo is rather special, our first after a year away. Continue reading
We were shopping at our local Carrefour, rounded a corner, and were greeted with this scene…
Actually, what surprised us most was that nobody was making much effort to clear it up. (It occurred to us to fetch some straws and offer to help.) I think in England, it would have been roped off, warning signs put up, and they’d be mopping immediately.
We were just very glad that we hadn’t caused the accident…
The title is, ‘U mnie zawsze świeci słońce’ which my google translator insists means, “U me always lit the sun”. Really? No chickens? No mules? Hmmm… Those nice people at Pascal Publishing in Poland have now translated ‘Chickens, Mules and Two Old Fools’ and it’s already on sale in Poland. Continue reading
“What’s that buzzing noise?” I asked Joe as we sat in the kitchen drinking coffee. “It sounds like a giant bee trapped somewhere.”
“I don’t know. It seems like it’s coming from the dishwasher. How can a bee be trapped in the dishwasher?” Continue reading
I know… I should be concentrating on writing ‘Two Old Fools on a Camel’, but I just side-tracked a little…
Today my comedy play-script for kids was published on Amazon, yayyy!
Here’s the blurb for it… Continue reading
Recipe and excerpt from ‘Two Old Fools ~ Olé!’
(Joe and Vicky have become unwilling baby-sitters for their neighbours’ children.)
I heard the activity long before I reached the kitchen. Standing in the doorway, my eyes swept the scene before me. The fairy twins were cross-legged on the floor, Joe squatting with them. Cupboard doors hung open, and most of my saucepans and wooden spoons were already spread all over the tiles. My heart sank. Where was the orderly kitchen I had left just moments before? Continue reading
I’m utterly convinced that writing is in the genes. You’re either born with an overwhelming urge to write, or you aren’t…
I was, and I can trace it back to the age of about 6 or 7, when I wrote my first masterpiece. It was called ‘The Runaway Tabel’. It went something like this: ‘Wunce there was a runaway tabel and wen you put food on it it ran away. The end.’ But I guess everyone has to start somewhere… Continue reading
As I sit typing, I can see steely clouds gathering, cloaking the mountaintops. Will it snow? Probably not, but we’re prepared, just in case. We have water, food and logs in abundance. Our chickens provide us with fresh eggs but, unfortunately, they also give us cause for concern…
Recipe and excerpt from ‘Two Old Fools ~ Olé!’
(Joe and Vicky are invited next door on the 6th January.)
“Lovely cake,” said Joe as he munched his way through the slice of Roscón handed to him by Carmen-Bethina. He took another big bite.
Nobody warned Joe. Nobody told Joe to be careful. Nobody told Joe that the cake hid little Christmas figurines. Whoever finds the Christ Child figure is crowned King or Queen for the meal, while the one who finds the dried bean must pay for next year’s Roscón de Reyes. Guess who broke a tooth as he bit on the Baby Jesus? Continue reading
I’m just looking down at what used to be my waist-line, and mourning its demise. Too much Christmas fare, I guess, but it was worth it! Joe and I had a wonderful Christmas, and we hope you did, too.