freebies for “exposure”



So this came up for me again this week when I saw that a random food blogger (who had been in touch with me awhile back, suggesting they would like to write about my tapas tours – nudge, nudge, wink, wink) had actually landed a freebie tour with a corporate food tour company here, and were tweeting about them, as promised. And all of me went … ewwwwwwwwwwww.

You see, I’ve been getting requests like this for years. And while I know how most restaurants feel about such requests (they hate them with a passion) I wondered how other food tour companies felt. As in… hey, give us a free food tour for “exposure”. The “us” usually includes a friend or partner, since these people tend to be here on holiday, not for work, and think a promise of a blog post means they get to dine out for free. And to be honest, none of the bloggers who have asked for (or insinuated they wanted) a freebie has ever been anyone of consequence.

On the other hand, proper journalists always offer to pay for their tours – and rightly so – since they are here in Sevilla at the behest of their employers, and have a budget that allows for this. To wit I have been featured in some pretty top notch publications, including the Sunday Times, Washington Post, National Geographic, Lonely Planet, National Post, Telegraph Travel… to name a few.

Other times I end up “meeting” food and wine writers on social media – usually via Twitter or Instagram – and when I find out they will be visiting we will either meet up for a drink and tapa and a chat, or – if they want a full tapas tour – they offer to pay the bills if I would take them around. And you know what? This I don’t mind at all. Because I am already “connected” with these people, even if we haven’t met in person yet, and I want to spend some time with them. And they also respect that this isn’t my hobby. So if I am willing to spend an afternoon or evening taking them out, then at least they are happy to pay for the food and drink so I don’t end up out of pocket. Fair enough.

But some other food tour companies here obviously think offering food bloggers freebies is “good for business”. And who knows? Maybe it is. For them. But when I look at these random bloggers, and then I look at the people, serious food and wine writers, who actually respect my work enough to pay for it, I know which camp I’d rather be in.

the mysterious case of the missing duvet cover


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This photo was taken last November, shortly after I bought a new duvet, ALONG WITH A NEW DUVET COVER (as you can clearly see). And now that the nights are growing cooler, this week I decided to get out the duvet and cover and get them ready for use. Except, I couldn’t find the duvet cover. Anywhere. Which is ridiculous because… where would it go??

Okay, I know that I moved last summer and sometimes things do go missing during a move. But everything else that was moved from my bedroom (including all other bedding, towels, etc) are here, exactly where they should be. It doesn’t make sense that I would have unpacked the duvet cover and… put it somewhere else?

Anyhow, there isn’t really anywhere for it to hide. I looked through every drawer and cupboard about ten times, before deciding I was in danger of becoming the definition of insanity (repeating the same action over and over and expecting a different outcome each time). So I did the only logical thing left to do… which was to buy a new duvet cover. Which is now being washed and will be hung up on the rooftop tonight to be fresh and ready to use tomorrow.

Which is no doubt when the old duvet cover will miraculously turn up…

moody morcilla


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In photos Morcilla sometimes comes across as a bit pensive and moody. Something to do with her owlish eyes and that one shock of orange over her right eye. Of course the comical “milk moustache” helps to balance things out a bit so she doesn’t look too serious. But in truth, she is the loveliest and most playful girl, and prone to much silliness. I will have to take some videos of her in action – she cracks me up every day.

stranger things


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This tale begins in the wee hours, at about 3 am last night, with me waking to the sound of Loki vomiting next to the bed. Great. So I flicked on the overhead light (though not sure why since I could see well enough with the night lights) did a quick clean up and checked on Loki, switched off the light and went back to bed. Suddenly there was a quick flash of bright light and my first thought was that I was having a stroke (!!!). So I laid down carefully and waited to see what would happen next.

A minute or so later there was another bright flash and I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw it was the ceiling light. Then it flashed again. Huh? So I leaned over and switched it on and off again, thinking maybe I hadn’t engaged the switch properly, but that did nothing. The flashing continued with random frequency, sometimes with a few minutes between flashes, other times like a blinding disco strobe. Clearly I wasn’t going to get any sleep like this.

So I took to Twitter, as I so often do at times like these. But at that time of night (by now it was well past 4 am) there were just a few North Americans about and the only advice I got was from my Canadian friend Marilyn aka @NagOnTheLake, who told me not to watch Stranger Things. Ha. I was more concerned about there being a short circuit somewhere and visions of an electrical fire played around the darker shadows of my weary late night thoughts.

Then I picked up my phone again and got onto Google, typing in “light flashing after turned off” and found some info (from 2012) about CFL lights that said…

Many times this is due to the circuit inside the CFL charging up, even when the bulb is off. … When the wall switch is on, the CFL bulb gets full line voltage. When the wall switch is off, the CFL bulb is the neutral for the light of the wall switch, causing a tiny current to flow through the CFL bulb.

To be honest, I have no idea whether it’s a CFL or an LED bulb up there, and this extra knowledge wasn’t helping anyhow, as in, what was I supposed to do about it at (now) 5 in the morning? So I lay there awhile longer wondering – WHY NOW??? – and it was then that I had my own light bulb moment. When I first got out of bed I had used the switch next to my pillow, but when I came back into the room I turned off the light using the switch near the door. AHA. So I got up again and did the procedure in reverse, switching on the light at the door, and switching it off again after getting back into bed. AND IT WORKED. The flashing stopped and I was finally able to doze off again sometime around 6 am.

But I still don’t know WHY it worked. Any takers out there? I also don’t know if there is anything I should do about this, other than never use that switch next to the bed again. Help??

cat advice please



A few weeks ago I was wondering if I should try Morcilla on some wet food, since some days she barely eats at all. Though other days she eats well and overall seems very healthy. And you may recall that I recently switched Loki & Luna to cat food for Mature Adults, keeping Morcilla on the Young Adult food. Well, when I ordered more of both types the other day, it arrived with this “gift”, a 10-pack of wet food for young adult sterilised cats.

But now I’m not sure what to do. Should I try Morcilla with it? Does she really need to be eating more? And – probably TMI – sometimes her stools are quite hard, so perhaps she does need more moisture in her diet?

Changing a cat’s diet is always fraught with the unknown. In general changes should be made gradually (which is why L & L are presently eating a 50-50 mix of the Mature and Young food) so perhaps suddenly giving Morcilla wet food, which she has never had before, might end up being too much for her? Or maybe it’s what she’s always needed to perk up her appetite.

Meanwhile, it’s a shame to waste this food. If I don’t give it to Morcilla perhaps I should just carry a packet around in my bag for random street cats – in their case any food is a blessing.

here we go again…


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So here I thought that I’d come up with the perfect solution for last night’s BLACK OUT SITUATION. In fact, it came to me while I was happily Netflixing with the cats in the evening after having had a great lunchtime tapas tour out with the parents of an Australian woman who’d taken my tour six years ago.

Anyhow, there I was all cosy when it hit me that there is always a soft golden glow filtering through the slatted blinds from the street lights in front of the living room balcony. Which I then realized happened to be one of the streets not affected by the 3-hour power cut. So… YAY! It was obvious. I’d just camp out on the sofa bed in the living room for the night and there would be plenty of light in my temporary bedroom.

Which was what I did. Of course as soon as I started prepping the “bed” the cats all wanted to know what was going on, and they actually had a lot of fun with me camping out in a different room. I even woke up at one point during the night and wondered why stuff like the internet modem and printer were still lit up. And the next morning I found out why.

I HAD THE WRONG DATE. Well, what? The notice said the power cut would take place November 2 from 00.00 – 3.00. I took that to mean from midnight last night, because by 00.00 it would already be the 2nd, right? Whatever. Wrong. So now I have to do the camping out thing again tonight. I may even splash out and open up the sofa bed to its full double width! Hey, don’t blame me… you’re following this blog.  😉


lights out!



You may recall that I am not able to sleep in pitch darkness. Or even just regular darkness. I always need at least a soft glow from somewhere so I can see SOMETHING when I open my eyes during the night (which happens pretty much every night). Hence my purchase of little plug-in night lights for beside my bed after I moved to the new Casa Azahar. So imagine my panic when I saw a notice posted in the lift yesterday saying that the electricity will be cut on my street, and two neighbouring streets, tonight between midnight and 3 am for some upgrading of the system. Whatever. All I could think was… IT’S GOING TO BE PITCH BLACK. GAAAAAAAAHHHH.

But I think I have a plan to get myself through this. Okay, the obvious one would be just to go to bed before midnight and not wake up again until at least after three, but I just can’t trust that I won’t wake up at, say, a quarter to three and go GAAAAAAAAHHHH.

So I have been busy charging ALL my devices, along with an external battery, and will also bring my laptop into my bedroom (battery in that one is good for at least a few hours) and fall asleep with it turned on. And of course my trusty iPhone will be by my side, along with a cat or two. Wish me luck!