The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Take a look at this video. Then read on….  (Tip: Much better with sound)

You will have almost certainly seen the film. The late, great Eli Wallach´s character Tuco, finds himself in Sad Hill cemetery where he searches frantically for one specific grave. Can you remember whose grave it is?

Sad Hill Cemetery

I had heard some 16 years ago that the Sad Hill cemetery  scene was filmed somewhere just north of Madrid. Well in fact it is a fair bit north of the capital and difficult to find. But find it we did.

The site is in the province of Burgos. Almost in the middle of nowhere, between the small towns of Santo Domingo de Silos and Contreras. In 2014 a group got together from all the small local towns in the area with the idea of preserving – or in the case of Sad Hill, unearthing – several locations in the area used by Sergio Leone for his trilogy of films that became known as the Spaghetti Westerns.

Sad Hill was literally just left after filming. Totally abandoned and forgotten about. Over the years the grass and plants just grew and the place was unrecognisable. But the group painstakingly restored the site to its former glory. The goal was to have the site ready for 2016; the 50th anniversary of the film. People came to help from all over the world at one point once they heard what was going on. Such is the popularity of Leone’s films. There are plenty of items on the internet about this and the place has become famous once again..And now, here is another article about it….

Oddly, the film is called El Bueno, El Feo y El Malo in Spanish (literally The good the ugly and the bad). Either way it is as famous in Spain as in any other country. After all, the three main spaghetti westerns were all filmed here. Eli Wallach passed away fairly recently in 2014 and Lee Van Cleef died way back in 1989. Only Clint is left of the three title characters.

The Good

The film is not just good. It´s great. Everyone who has seen it would probably agree to that. One that has stood the test of time. Over 50 years of time. Half a century! The Good, The Bad and The Ugly was first shown in 1966. Blimey. I was not even as old as Dani back then. There were two men from Texas there when we first arrived. Both about my age I guessed. It had taken them 3 hours to find the place also. They both agreed that when Dani is older he will love the film and look back on the photos of his first visit to this location. I think he will appreciate it in about a year or so.

The Bad….

Getting there is not easy. It is about two and a half hours drive from Madrid. Even then you need to know where you are going. The road from Contreras is a rough track and lasts for some 4km. It’s hard to imagine how the site was first constructed. Back in 1966 this would have been barely even a donkey track.

The Ugly…

It is an amazing site. There is nothing ugly about the place now. OK, it is hard to get to but I suppose that makes it all the more appealing and definitely worth the effort when you arrive. It must have been in a really bad state when they started work on the restoration. Almost a total reconstruction.
  

When we arrived Arch Stanton´s grave was not in the best of states. Naturally I repaired it like any true fan of the film would do. Poor old Arch. Nobody left to tend his resting place. In the film, the grave marked ´Unknown´ at the side of Arch was full of gold. And that was the prize the three main characters were after.
Before and after shots of Mr. Stanton’s grave…



Now you know the story behind the location for that famous scene. Now it´s time for the remake. Starring Dani in the role of Tuco. Sit back and enjoy…

 

Queen Concert Weekend

You start a new job and immediately it is hard to go back to it. A young son can do that to you. So too can crap jobs but that is not the point of this post (and besides it’s too early for that one).

The busy weekend started with his swimming lesson. He is getting good now. I am quite a good swimmer. Now. But when I was Dani’s age I was close to petrified of water. It is great to see him improving week by week.

There is what the British call an ‘Indian Summer’ in Madrid. Despite the unusually high temperatures all the outdoor pools are closed. End of season. By date, if not temperature. The end of summer means the start of swimming lessons and Dani is back in the indoor pool every Saturday morning. He is a happy, improving little swimmer and his dad is proud of him. (Did I just refer to myself in the third person?)

Queen

Sunday: Off to see a Queen tribute band in the Rialto Theatre in the city centre. What a great little theatre!

On the way Dani and I had a little conversation.

“I want to go and see Led Zeppelin dad.”

“Oh well we can go and see a Led Zep band soon. I will look into it.”

“But we only know one song”: He means ‘Rock and Roll’ the one he has heard on the radio many times.

“Well you do mate. But I know all of their songs.”

“All of them?”

“Yes. I have all their albums. We can listen to some more songs and then you will know them when we go and see Led Zeppelin in concert. But today we are going to see Queen”.

We sat in the theatre and the band came on stage. A five-piece tribute act. Spanish lads playing bass, guitar, drums and the frontman A keyboard player making it five; allowing “Freddie” to concentrate on the singing and prancing around stage.

The second song was one of the obvious ones. Bohemian Rhapsody. I thought Dani would be totally into it, but the band started the song part way through. Being a long track I understood this. But for one little boy -in the manner of Sheldon (Big Bang Theory) – it just did not compute. I think he expected it to be just like the records he has heard so much. While he wasn’t too keen on singing along, he watched intently. It was all well done and in between songs the singer spoke to the audience – as they do.

About half way through the concert Dani said, partly surprised; “Dad. Freddie Mercury speaks Spanish.”

“It’s not the real Freddie Mercury Dan. This is not the real Queen”

And the instant I had said it I thought ‘oh shit!’. His face changed. Puzzled expression. What had I done? I might as well tell him that Santa Claus doesn’t exist. Right now; and get that one over with! Oh, what an idiot!

I regretted it immediately. But that’s how things happen in the blink of an eye. Poor Dani. I don’t think it stopped him enjoying the rest of the show however. He joined in later.

Kent and Australia?

Later in the day Dani’s mum had to leave for the airport. Only a short business trip. To Sydney Australia no less. He knew she would be away until Friday but took it well I thought.

The biggest problem for me was that soon after I had to fly to the UK. This new job in Kent is only a week old but it is so hard leaving the little man. He would be staying with his grandmother but that didn’t make it any easier. I put him to bed and thought he was asleep. But I received a text message form his grandmother that he woke up ten minutes after I had gone and cried. He would be fine. I knew that. But it hurts when things like that happen. Such a great weekend but a tough end.

If it doesn’t get any easier how long will I last in this new job? Time – as always – will tell.

Gaucín and Return to Madrid

Gaucín

Among the thousands of white villages in Andalucia there are a few that stand out from the crowd. Casares was possibly one of the first world famous due to its precarious positioning on  the cliff-faces of the hills and its proximity to the coast. Comares is the undisputed king of the Axarquia region sitting proudly atop a 700m high mountain. Frigiliana is famous for its pristine, colourful streets thanks mainly due to its close proximity to the increasingly popular and growing resort town of Nerja.

Another notable village is Gaucín. Some 10 minute drive from Benadalid on the Algeciras road this village sits high up overlooking the coast. On a clear day you can see Gibraltar and north Africa. At one end of the village is the impressive Eagle’s Castle (Castillo de Águila).

The road down to the coast passes close to Cásares and appears between Estepona and Sotogrande. From that road the village looks both impressive and imposing. Easily the biggest of the white villages of the Serranía de Ronda region, Gaucín has been home to artists from all over the world and there are many small galleries. It is easy to see why artists are so inspired when they arrive.


The kids acting as if they are doing a catalogue shoot…

No more holidays…

A day later and we had to make the long journey back to Madrid. Seven hours with two short pit-stops. Tiring for everyone.

Within a few days Dani was back to school. His third year. Time is flying by…

Meanwhile it was also back to work for dad too. More on that to come.

Return to the Rio Genal

Return to the Rio Genal

That sounds like a western film starring John Wayne doesn’t it?

But if you read the previous post you will know that this is the river we wanted to fish in – properly.

Unfortunately the local shops only had a very minimal collection of fishing tackle. The smallest hooks were, I thought, too big but just might be OK with a little luck.

This time it was a boy’s trip. Dani and myself got up early so we could at least have an hour of peaceful fishing before the noisy tourists turned up. We had no fishing rods so I improvised, attaching hooked lines to a couple of long branches I found. We used sweet corn for bait direct form the tin. The thing with sweetcorn is that it stays on the hook even when the small fish try to nibble it. Only the bigger fish take the whole corn – hook and all! I am sure we could catch lots of the larger fish if we use smaller hooks.

Despite the hooks being a little too large we did manage to catch a couple of decent sized fish. For Dani they were huge as they more than filled his hands. The fish were barbel (barbo). Also in the river is the bordallo (a type of chub local to these parts) and boga (straight mouthed nase). The tiny “minnows” I have since discovered are called pejerrey (sand smelt).

All in all I think it was a great first fishing trip. Dani certainly thought so. Just look at his proud face here with one of his fish.

Júzcar – The Blue Village

Another day and another trip. This time to a village two valleys away. Júzcar. In an area dotted with the famous pueblos blancos (white villages) there is one that stands out. The reason is that they have painted the town blue. Literally. All houses and buildings were painted blue back in 2011 when the first Smurfs movie (Pitufos in Spanish) was released. The village was chosen by Sony Pictures for the world premiere of the movie.

Not only that but they built large mushroom (Smurf houses) and adorned the village with large paintings of the characters, souvenir shops and Smurf related play areas. They did a good job too. As a result the village gained some level of fame and became a bit of a tourist trap and the place was marketed as the world’s first Smurf village. Life-size at least.



Then just as tourism was rapidly rising the film company decided to pull the official plug and told the townhall that they could not use the Smurf images. All quite odd as this place is out of the way to say the least and if anything the village should be charging the copyright/trademark holders for using the whole village as one huge advert for their product. It was clearly a win-win situation but the film company decided otherwise. The world really is one odd place. And this village is definitely part of that.

Despite Sony offering to cover the cost of repainting the town white the villagers voted to keep the buildings blue (mainly due to the huge increase in tourists) and all that remains of those halcyon days of Hollywood collaboration is the plaque on the wall of the church (also painted blue of course) plus a couple of large Smurf statues. They still prefer to stand out from the crowd and call themselves the Pueblo Azul (Blue Village). Not quite as good as ‘the Smurf Village’ but still a curious place to visit.

A New Image…

Fortunately, the village is now gaining some attention for its local winemaking. It has recently attracted more attention from Hollywood in the shape of Antonio Banderas and a few of his film industry pals who visited the wine making factory (bodega) which now advertises itself as a Wine, Bed & Breakfast establishment. The site was the former Fábrica de Hojalata (tin factory); the first factory in Spain.

Back to School

Tomorrow is the first day back to school. Dani’s third year of full time school. I have not quite finished writing about his summer holidays. How time flies…

Fiestas and Fishing

Bajo La Luna

We arrived in Benadalid almost a week before the annual feria began. The week leading up to the feria is usually busy enough in any village. There will usually be some entertaining events lined up by the town hall or the locals. The week before the week leading up to the feria should be just like any other week; right?

Not so in Benadalid. That week the town – in reality a very small village – puts on a week of shows (espectáculos). It is called Bajo la Luna – literally under the moon – a street festival of cultural events (Festival de cultura en la calle).

The Bajo la Luna week culminates in a full-blown stage production by the townspeople. Last year it was The Lion King, this year it was Sister Act. The village square (plaza) is packed full of people for these events. They have become so well known that people come from other villages right across the area.

This year the Bajo la Luna poster was designed by Candela, a 2nd cousin to Dani. (One of his mum’s cousins.)

First fishing experience….

In the valley below the village there is a small river. The Rio Genal. I wanted to take Dani fishing. At least some form of fishing.

“Not a net! That’s for babies”. Well, that said it was also a little early for a full fishing rod and tackle. I decided to try one of my first fishing methods. The old fashioned but well proven minnow trap. (Minnows are a breed of fish which do not grow more than 2 or 3 inches but the word ‘minnow’ is often used to describe any tiny river fish.)

I first went fishing at the age of 5 with my grandad – also called Daniel. He showed me how to catch little minnows using a ‘minnow trap’ made from and old whisky bottle. The type with a big dimple in the bottom. For those who do not know about these devices here’s a quick and simple explanation:

The trick is (was) to knock a hole in the dimple. The dimple creates a cone down which the little fish swim into the bottle. Once inside they can’t get back out. All you need inside is some bread or similar bait to attract the fish and submerge the bottle until all the air is gone and leave well alone. Several fish will enter every time. To remove them simply unscrew the bottle top and pour out.

Today however it is much more difficult to find a suitable glass bottle, so I made our ‘minnow trap’ out of plastic bottles. Of course, way back then there was no such thing as a plastic bottle. Seriously; I am struggling to recall when I first saw plastic bottles but it was much later than my early fishing expeditions. Certainly a good use for all those empty plastic bottles; I suppose it is a form of recycling… Not that I am one for shouting out their ‘green credentials’ – I most definitely am not!

We only had the small half litre bottles available on the day we went down to the river. So we made do and set off with a new minnow trap in hand.

The Rio Genal

The Genal river flows continuously – even in long hot summers – in the valley below Benadalid. It manages to avoid the fate of many a dry river in the south of Spain thanks to a natural spring that is fed from water collected whenever it rains. It happens to rain quite frequently in one part of the region so the Genal (and another river not too far away) remain relatively full of fresh crystal-clear water. And there are plenty of fish. You see them everywhere. Mostly tiny young fish but there are also enough larger ones visible from both the river banks and when you wade through or swim in the water. Naturally there are all sizes in between.

Success. We caught more than our fair share of tiddlers and even a few the size of Dani’s hand. For our next trip I planned to make a trap from 2 litre plastic bottles – the hope being that we catch more of the bigger ones.

Here you can clearly see some small fish already trapped while others check it from the outside.

Small Tourist Trap

It’s a great spot. There is even a small tourist industry based around the river with camp sites and a couple of restaurants. Unfortunately (if it is fair to use that word) this means that there are more than enough people; tourists and holiday-makers to spoil the tranquillity. And, being Spanish, that they certainly do! Not long after midday gangs of noisy families some with dogs appear. All jumping in the water (whether on two or four legs) right where you think you would like to fish. If we want to try some proper fishing here we will need to come early.

Marbella, then onto Benadalid

Best Coffee in Marbella?

A few days stay in Marbella with Dani’s Aita (grandmother) and one morning we went for a walk while most places were still closed. We stopped at a café that had a sign saying “Best Coffee in Marbella” (in English!). We tried it. It may have been (to some) but these things are subjective of course. However, it cost almost 4 Euros. Trust me; the Marbella region has hundreds of acceptable bars producing more than acceptable coffee. And for less than half of that price. My advice to anyone going to Marbella would be to settle for the 50th best coffee or 125th best coffee, or…well you get the idea right?

Roman Ruins…

On the last day we visited a Roman villa (Villa Romana). It is probably closer to Puerto Banus than Marbella town; so we went by car.

I am not the best passenger it has to be said but to call it a ‘white knuckle ride’ would be an understatement. Dani’s grandmother is one scary driver! While it may be tempting to use the tried and tested jokes about women drivers or Spanish driving I won’t go there. Let’s just say combine the two and then some… It makes the biggest rollercoasters seem very tame. I end up peeking through my fingers like a youngster watching some horror movie. However, I digress…

The Roman Flooring

The roman ruins are as you would expect for a 1st century A.D. building. Only about 2 feet tall (in places). The thing that makes this place worth visiting is the mosaic tiled floors. Still in fairly good repair and clearly showing many images. Almost like new in places.

Almost 2000 years old! I can tell you that you wouldn’t have to look far around this area for recently built swimming pools with many tiles missing or hanging off. Such is the fall in standards over two millennia.

I was quite impressed. Now I am wondering just how many other such sites would have been in this area? How many would have been unearthed on construction sites only to be bulldozed by the greedy developers in the mad rush to sell properties at the back end of the 20th century? Say nothing otherwise the site works would be held up! No doubt quite a few. This area made multi-millionaires out of a lot of dodgy property developers. They call it ‘The Golden Mile’. Apparently because there was more money to be made building apartments than in mining for gold.

Unimpressed boy…

Although it was only one small site it is technically another museum. Dani’s second in as many weeks. Needless to say, he thought it was “rubbish” and “boring”. Such statements do not bother me as I know he is attentive at school. It’s normal for a kid his age to be completely uninterested in anything remotely educational while on his summer holidays.

Only a few hours later we were on the road heading inland towards Ronda then turning off for Benadalid. This is genuine pueblos blancos (white villages) territory. The green heavily forested mountains sparsely sprinkled with white clusters. Basically nothing in between – unlike other parts of the south coast of Spain where the space between village is peppered with small developments and single buildings. These villages are all still remote and quite separate.

This is the Serranía de Ronda (mountain) range and will be our base for a week or two.

From Museum to Bohemia

A Trip to the Museum…

A few days ago Dani’s mum thought it would be a good idea to take him to a museum. It was not.

When faced between a choice of (say) playing with Lego or visiting an archaeological museum which do you think a four year old boy would prefer? Yes that’s correct. The Lego (or anything similar) wins every time. I have to admit it was a close-run thing for myself. But we both, somewhat reluctantly, agreed to give the museum a try.

Unsurprisingly Dani was soon bored. There is only so much looking at old artefacts that a child of that age can stand. It was too much for him. The (supposed) highlight and reason for the visit was a replica of the famous prehistoric cave paintings at the Caves of Altamira in Cantabria. The museum had built a small section of the caves with a large mirror placed below so you don’t have to strain your neck looking up. All I can say is that it was OK. Dani did not hesitate when asked whether he liked it by the lady at the exit whether he liked it. “It was boring” he replied.

The real caves….

I tried to visit the real caves about 20 years ago. I only found out that they had restrictions on visitors when I arrived. The caves have been closed to the public a couple of times since the 1970s when it was thought that carbon dioxide water vapour exhaled by the large numbers of visitors was causing mould to grow on the paintings. The caves had been reopened in 1982 but with limited access and closed again in 2002. Very few visitors were allowed in per day, resulting in a three-year waiting list. I was only passing through the area so was not prepared to wait that long. It seems they are now of a different opinion and think the conditions are now far more stable. The caves were reopened to the public in 2010.

A final word on the museum: In fairness, I did find the section about the history of money interesting; as did Dani. He also enjoyed the Egyptian mummies.

Marbella via Los Romanes…

This endless summer rolls on. I am beginning to understand why so many parents – especially the stay at home parents – are so glad when the kids have to go back to school.

Then some respite. Holiday time. Dani’s mum is free to relieve me of the full-time child minding. And so off to the little village of Los Romanes for a weekend. As luck would have it this was Feria weekend in the village and there was lots to keep Dani amused. Including a rock concert arranged by a local bar owner named Paco. Four (relatively) local bands played for Paco’s festival which he used to promote his own craft beers (cervezas artesanales) conveniently named Cervezas Romanes.

As always with these things the weekend passed by all too quickly but this was only the beginning. We headed off for Marbella to spend time with Dani’s grandmother (again). It’s hot and he is a full-time job. Fortunately I now get a break.

Scaramouche Scaramouche will you do the fandango…

I used to like some of the songs by Queen. I still do. They are just wearing a bit thin now as Dani can spend hours singing them. He has really taken to their music and I have no real explanation for it. I am not Queen’s biggest fan but obviously have some of their music. A friend told me recently that Queen’s Greatest Hits is the best-selling album of all time. I can believe it. Dani would agree too as he knows every song on it. Not only that. He knows other songs by other groups but Queen is the go to band.

For those interested in Queen songs here is their most famous song. A simple unaccompanied vocal rendition by a four-year-old boy. I think he has the full and correct song here…

Great fun I am sure you will agree but trust me; after the fifth time…

 

A Day Out at Warner Bros. Park

Not the best of starts…

The day did not start too well. When we arrived there were lots of people (as expected) yet the queues at the taquillas (ticket booths) were short. The problem was they were not moving. Not at all. We waited over half an hour and the area is not shaded. It was already very hot. Some people said they had been there almost an hour!

I knew it would be hot and I knew it would be busy. This was July in Madrid for goodness sake; but this kind of inefficiency is not acceptable. Someone at Warner Bros needs to address this issue.

Cartoon Village

Needless to say, by the time we got inside the park Dani’s dad was a little grumpy. Dani too. (I wonder where he gets it from?) He was ready for a relax and suggested we go to a bar!! I would have gone along with that idea – there are plenty of places to eat and drink. Instead we made straight for the cartoon village area. Who doesn’t love the Loony Tunes cartoons?

First attraction we tried was called Daffy Duck Emergencies (Emergencias de Pato Lucas). Dani was unable to shoot the water as the buttons were very stiff. My side was almost broken and there is no way a small child could operate them without adult help. Note to Warner Bros park: Those need fixing!

Things got a lot better….

The next place we went to was the Coyote rollercoaster. For some reason children over 105cm tall can be accompanied by adults. I thought he would love the ride because Wile E Coyote was “driving” the train. As it turned out this “moderate” (terror) ride proved a little too much for him. He just about put up with it and thankfully (as is usual with this type of ride) it was over in less than a minute. He was in no hurry to try it again but I think he was fairly pleased he had done it.

We visited several other attractions in the cartoon village including the Scooby Doo Adventure (house) which was an updated version of what we used to call a ghost train ride when I was young. The cars have laser beam guns which you can fire at targets. Your scores are displayed on the cars “dashboard”.

Perfect Timing

Dani’s mum wanted to go on a particular water attraction so we headed into the Wild West zone. We could not believe our luck. En-route we bumped into a certain Wile E Coyote. Walking right toward us. He stopped for a few photos. Dani was incredibly excited. Photos with his favourite character. What more could we ask for? That alone made his day.


Rio Bravo

For some reason small children are allowed on this one. I have been on several of this type of ride in the past. Usually there is the steep climb followed by a slow flowing “river”, finishing with a water slide descent and a big splash where everyone gets soaking wet. I have to admit the finishing chute to this ride was far steeper than anything I had seen before. Dani was showing signs of fear. I was also a little concerned. After 40 minutes of waiting Dani finally decided he did not want to go on it. We did anyway. He cried but we survived.

His fears were justified. The final descent was not even the worst part. Once inside the “mountain” the boat is turned and thrown backwards down an equally steep fall. Both myself and Dani (sat in the back row) physically left the seat. It is no wonder the little fella was scared. The odd thing is that there is another similar water chute ride in the park and it is a lot less severe. Yet it is deemed unsuitable for kids of Dani’s height. Meanwhile Rio Bravo takes kids only 1 metre tall.

Gotham City

Next stop was Gotham City and a chance to meet some D.C. Comics superheroes. We had photographs with Batman, Robin, Wonder Woman and the Green Lantern as well top Villains The Joker and Cat-woman. Some were less convincing than others I have to say.

 

We went on The Jokers Coches de Choque (bumper cars or dodgems) which meant yet another long wait. The turnaround time on some attractions could definitely be improved. It was worth the wait. Dani loved it.

                        

Then there was a stunt show at Gotham City Hall. The Batman facing his nemesis The Joker. An animated young boy pretended not to be too impressed when it was all over. During the show however he was completely engrossed, narrating every bit of the action for all around to hear. Very funny.

Final Fun….

Before we left the park Dani insisted that we go into Scooby Doo’s “house” again. Another long wait. Over 40 minutes. But he enjoyed it and that is what matters most. I have to admit I also enjoyed it.

By the time we came out the sun was going down and the final parade was about to start. We watched the parade and he loved it. All the characters took part, apart from (curiously) Wile E Coyote. This was duly noted, but the boy did not complain. It was late in the day and we were all tired. We went straight into one of the shops and bought a Coyote and headed for the car. Within minutes he was asleep still clutching the Wile E Coyote.

Suggestions to Warner bros.

An excellent day out. I am seriously considering buying an annual pass. However, I do hope Warner Bros. take note that they can still make some subtle improvements – especially to the chaotic entrance operations.

Marbella and Back

Another hectic week of school holidays has been and gone. The previous week we went to stay at Dani’s grandmother’s place in Marbella. It’s only a small apartment but a great location close to the beach and with a fantastic communal pool that the kids love. Dani’s cousin was already there having spent the previous few days alone with her grandmother. Naturally, she was pleased to have someone her own age to play with.

There is something about the beach. When kids reach a certain age they just love it. Being covered in sand – and I do mean covered in it – is now the new normal. Thankfully the beaches are well equipped with showers.

Watching Dani play with his cousin is always funny. Dani is like a starved rat compared to Susana. It’s not that she is overweight. Although she definitely eats more than he does. It’s not that he doesn’t eat. He does; even though it takes an age every mealtime. The main thing is that he clearly burns off everything he eats. It reminds me of that old joke that we used to throw at each other way back when I was a teenager. When a skinny kid had his shirt off playing football someone would always shout “Hey. Put your shirt back on. The cruelty officer is coming.”

Marvel meets Paw Patrol

Despite being like chalk and cheese the two of them get along great. But the differences make for some great entertainment. It’s hilarious listening to them playing with Dani’s toys. Amongst his toys he has two sets of characters; one from Paw Patrol and another of Marvel heroes and villains.

She loves anything to do with animals so wants the pups of Paw Patrol (Dani now thinks they are for babies). Dani meanwhile loves all the superheroes and equally the super-villains. While he crashes around making all the special effects noises that boys tend to do she makes conversation between the pups and superheroes. “Hello little Hulk. Are you the son of that big Hulk?” one pup said to Hulk.

Better for Boys…

Ever since he learnt to use the toilet Dani has thought it was great being able to stand up to pee. Today he tried to convince Susana of one of the advantages of being a boy. She wasn’t impressed.

“It’s better being a boy.”
“Why?”
“Because we can piss standing up.”
“Why is that better?”
“It just is. I can do it anywhere without sitting down. You have to sit down to piss.”
“No. That’s nothing. I like sitting down to do it. “

Then effortlessly back to the Marvel characters. As if nothing had been said.

Wile E Coyote Rules.

The calamitous cartoon coyote is now a firm favourite. Coincidentally, tomorrow, we plan to visit the Warner Bros. theme park (Parque Warner) on the outskirts of Madrid. That should be great fun. I hope they have Wile E Coyote toys in stock. If not, there will be tears.

Watching the cartoons again, many years after seeing them as a child, I wondered if that ACME company was the inspiration for one of the relatively new internet companies like Amazon.

Wouldn’t that be great. I looked it up and apparently Amazon was not inspired by the coyote’s constant use of the ACME delivery service. Shame that. But then I thought; what other huge business ideas may be hidden in these old cartoons? As if I don’t have enough reasons to watch them…

Crazy, Crazy, Crazy, Crazy, Nights – Crazier Kids

Yesterday, as a special treat, we visited the Lego Store in Madrid. These shops are great. Dani quite enjoyed it too…

Build your own characters…

The intention was to let him build his own bespoke Lego figures from the array of bodies, legs, heads and headgear. If you have ever been in an official Lego store you will know what that means. For just under 10 Euros they let you build three Lego figures each made up of 5 separate parts: Legs, Body, head, wig/hat, plus a fifth ‘utility’ part – typically something like a weapon or food part.

One of Dani’s favourite games is mixing and making up his own characters from the Lego figures he already has. So, this should have been similar work for him. I expected him to create some mad combination of fighting knights and space (Star Wars-like) characters. I was wrong.

Kiss? Really?

Dani saw some parts that would make him a version of a famous rock star. One Paul Stanley the lead singer of outrageous 70s rock band Kiss. Unbelievably he got it pretty much spot on from the parts available. When we got the Kiss singer home Dani’s mum completed the figure by painting the star over one eye. Just like the real thing…

Incredibly he knows and loves a few Kiss songs. He never got that from his old dad. Personally, I have never owned any Kiss records. I knew of them way back when, but never particularly thought they were any good. Certainly not good enough to buy their records. I was too pre-occupied with Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, The Ramones and Black Sabbath – to name but a few…

The Power of Radio…

Dani has heard them on the radio stations in the car. He only knew what they looked like when he asked me to show him videos of the band on the internet. He immediately took it all in and had it in mind as soon as he arrived at the Lego store.

Apparently, he is now a red shade short of a set of realistic lips. Of course the Kiss singer will get lonely, so on our next visit to the Lego store we shall be looking to construct a Gene Simmons and the rest of them (whatever the rest of the band are called?!)

Come on Feel the Toyz…

I am sure there are some other old rockers that could be Lego-ised. The little lad also asked me to show him videos of Slade. I feel a Lego Noddy Holder coming on… Watch this space.