Usually I wake when it is dark only when I have to go to an airport so yesterday morning at 05.45 when my alarm rang it took a second or two to realise that I wasn’t off to somewhere exotic but simply to Jaén city.

It was another day of charity work.

Tony ‘call me Jack Sparrow’ Cartwright was due for an eyeball spit and polish at Jaén’s Hospital Princesa De España… they duly obliged but he was upset (and so was I) that they didn’t give him an eye patch – I think he was looking for the sympathy vote back at our village.

Having duly delivered him up to the eye specialist promptly at 07.00 (his appointment was at 08.00 but you know what these ex-services folk are like for punctuality) what does one do for the next five hours or so? I had it mind to browse around Carrefour and Lidl but I didn’t realise that Spain does not open for business until 09.00. And there are only so many coffees to be had.

Coffee in Spain is a real treat and on par with Italy and a fraction better than France. Just up the road from Lidl is a café bar on Calle Santa María del Valle that I have frequented previously whilst on sorties into my capital city. They do a great breakfast trade for workers having their coffees and copious amounts of Sol y Sombra (brandy/anise) which sets them up nicely to paint and plumb houses. It was a bit worrying watching a group of electricians having their breakfast fix.

Anyway, what I observed and have done many times before is give a Spaniard a coffee and he’ll stir the life out of it. I have watched big Luis do this in my village yet he takes a black coffee without sugar, in a glass, then whilst sitting at the bar he stares at the glass and stirs the contents for what seems like forever, I mean, I can drink my green tea (I have a box of my own behind the bar), eat a tostada and when I glance back there’s big Luis still intently staring and stirring.

Maybe it is therapeutic, hypnotic, religious or something darker.

The Pirate of Monte Lope Alvarez

The Pirate of Monte Lope Alvarez