Sickness, Christmas prep and dodgy internet connections have kept me away, but normal service should resume from tonight!
I'm taking you to Southern Spain and the region of Andalucia for Number 10 of my "29 of the Best"...
I was travelling with a colleague (who was translating for me during the hotel negotiations) on a short trip from Malaga to Ronda to Gibraltar to Tarifa and then looping back to Malaga. 25 degrees and mid November, it made for a perfect, sunny winter break from the office to get some Contracts nailed "in resort".
For our evening in Ronda, we were being treated to dinner on the gorge by our faithful bus supplier, his brother (and business partner) and their wives - who were also sisters. The majority of the meal was in Spanish so I did a lot of smiling, nodding and timing my laugh when everybody else laughed. The fabulous food and wine certainly contributed to an interesting and enjoyable evening. As the night wore on into early morning (they eat much later than us on the Continent), we left the restaurant and had a tour of the bus depot. I was stifling yawns at this point, but the best was yet to come... After some more nodding, smiling and laughing on my part, Jose suddenly produced 2 Serrano hams as gifts - and I'm talking the real deal! I think our bottom lips hit the floor once I realised they weren't banjos. Each ham was worth 300 to 400 EUR!!!
So, off we merrily went with our hosts and our Serrano hams for more socialising in Ronda's finest nightclub...
...4 hours later and we were on the road again heading to quirky, funky Tarifa where the hardest negotiations were yet to take place...
I'm going to fast forward here - we finalised the contract in Tarifa and arrived back into Malaga in happier spirits than when we'd left. All in all, it had been a very successful trip. Buoyant with success and weighed down with these Serrano hams, we touched base with the Tourist Information Office to see whether we could transport our Serrano hams back to the UK. I was all up for selling mine and going shopping in Malaga if not ;) After much liaison and discussion and to-ing and fro-ing on technicalities with the Agricultural Minister in London and the Minister of Canapes and Caviar and such like, we think we got a "yes, it was ok". Not convinced, we found a cheap Chinese bag shop and bought the biggest holdall we could find. This was going to safely transport our hams back to the UK. Well, that was the plan. The zip breaking on the bag at check in didn't inspire me with much confidence (and I thought wistfully about the missed shopping opportunities), but the hams went through ok and made it on the plane with us. They were even there to greet us on arrival back in London.
Part 2 of this story is pretty sad and distressing - unfortunately, I didn't store my ham properly (leaving it in the muslin) so it went majorly moldy. Colin and I got it out for the grand unveiling just over a month later at Christmas and we looked like right plonkers!!!
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Blogging is an amazing concept so here I am giving it a whirl. You'll get words. You'll get pics. Sometimes a vid or two. You'll get tongue in cheek, the odd humble opinion and an honest insight into my travels and writing life. Maybe even a few gems along the way. I'll be musing on home turf as I see more and more of the UK and sharing my experiences further afield on holidays and adventurous trips across the globe.