Living Beneath the Volcano is Dormant

Posted: December 29, 2012 in Life

It’s been a busy and exciting year. In the depths of this economic abyss we’ve been fortunate enough to find ourselves busier than ever.

Which is why Living Beneath the Volcano has been left to rot on the vine since July. It’s a shame and I miss venting my grumpiness here, but there have been too many other writing distractions, so my therapeutic volcano has allowed to fall into a dormant state.

I say dormant rather than extinct because for the sake of my sanity I need to moan, groan and bitch about all those ridiculous things that get the lava bubbling. Subsequently I plan for the blog to return in some sort of form over the next 12 months. What that form is, I’ve yet to decide.

Until then, thanks to all who have put up with my rants and occasional bad poetry.

After a simply fantastic meal at Bodega de Enfrente on Friday night to celebrate Andy’s birthday I was gutted to discover there seemed to be some sort of technical problems with the photos I’d taken and I couldn’t view any of them. As it turned out I’d inadvertently taken all the pics in RAW.

The lighting was quite low and as usual when it’s shots that I’m going to use on a website, I just ramped up the ISO. I’ve been meaning to try shooting in RAW for years – in fact after every time someone says ‘I can’t believe you don’t take RAW images’ – and was quite impressed with how the pics compared to the usual grainy high ISO images. So I went on a wee walk around the house experimenting taking more RAW shots;  it made me look at some things that I’ve just got used to seeing and don’t really register any more.

The Green Fairy’s Spoon

Absinthe spoon

This is one of my favourite possessions, a bona-fide absinthe spoon with a wormwood design. It has only been used once.

The Library

The Bookshelf

The bookshelf looks great (it was here when we bought the place) but it isn’t practical and to get anything down requires balancing on the table or getting ladders from the shed. Subsequently we don’t read as much as we would like.

Skeleton Keys

Skeleton Keys

Another bizarre touch we inherited, the dried out carcasses of two lizards and a dragonfly. It’s a risky business being a lizard here (their own fault) in the last week one has been squashed in the door (they like to hang about in door frames) and I’ve just found a charcoal lizard head in the water boiler cupboard. It must have climbed in and been napalmed when we turned the hot water tap on.

The Recipe Books

Recipe Books

My favourite recipe book is New Tapas. I don’t think that we have ever used a recipe from it as they are a bit fiddly, but it is absolutely gorgeous. The books around it are from when we didn’t eat meat and are still used massively because the recipes in them are so good.



Cheesy, but we loved this poster and wanted a memento from one of the most famous hotels in the world.

The Lock

Polish Lock

Yet another inherited item, an 18th century Polish lock. This comes with a key that looks as though it belongs to a castle. It’s a simple mechanism that is so effective that friends can’t open the door from the inside let alone from the outside… and that’s when it’s unlocked.


Chess Board

I love this old chess set. It was a present from Andy. We use to enjoy playing chess (badly) in front of the roaring fire; all very Thomas Crown. Haven’t had a game in ages; we must rectify that.



Simply a beautiful little batik bought direct from a little batik factory in Sri Lanka.

The Mossie Net

Bed & Mossie Net

Despite what some think, there are mosquitoes in Tenerife but not many. We live in the middle of a banana plantation and even we don’t get many. August/September is probably the period when there’s most. We just got used to sleeping under a mossie net. It’s very cosy.

The Tiles

Antique Tiles

The previous owner was an antiques dealer and says if we ever feel like ripping these tiles out we should call him first, so I guess they must be worth something. They’re in an odd position, stuck in the middle of one of the living room walls. Can’t say I’m a big fan but they’re useful for blu-tacking Christmas cards to.

There’s a shifty looking group of them hanging around at the dimly lit corner, smoking damn dope and drinking cheap wine. They glower and growl threateningly at anyone who accidentally strays too close. Some even lash out aggressively every now and then.

It would be easy to hate them, to pigeon-hole them as society’s outsiders. But the truth is the blame for their disengagement and disenchantment doesn’t lie at their shuffling feet. They hang around muttering about the purpose of life and wondering ‘what it’s all about’ because they have nowhere else to go. They are redundant and having been brought into this world, they’ve been discarded. Nobody wants them and nobody wants to see them. They are the bad attitude blogs.

Bad attitude blogs

Yesterday one escaped from its holding cell. Actually it didn’t escape so much as slip out a door I left slightly ajar. In my heart I knew it was a bad attitude blog but it persuaded me it wasn’t. It convinced me that it was just wanted to have a bit of mischievous fun; that it was harmless. But it wasn’t. It harboured a grudge and once it was out there it wanted to lash out.

I spotted its true motives (helped by Andy) shortly after it skipped gleefully into the bright light and ran laughing wickedly through the streets of social media. But I was hot on its tail with a lasso that brought it kicking and screaming back into blog-world purgatory.

The truth is there are a lot of bad attitude blogs already in there. They have been born out of frustration, irritation, bemusement and anger at all sorts of things – stupidity, blatant manipulation, ignorance, corruption, things that are unjust, snobbery and elitism, inverted snobbery… the list goes on. I’m Scottish; there’s a volcano that bubbles under constantly at things I perceive to be unjust or just plain wrong.

Living Beneath the Volcano is an air vent for those things and subsequently many blogs on here tend to have a bit of an attitude and occasionally a gallas, provocative swagger. They are written for no other purpose than to satisfy me. If anyone else enjoys them or agrees with their sentiments, that’s a bonus.
But the bad attitude blogs cross a line. These are often written immediately after something ridiculous has happened or someone has done, said or written something that winds me up. They are an antidote. But as they generally are dripping with what I view as sadistic humour (Mike Leigh’s anti-hero in Naked is a role model) they’re not always suitable for general consumption and so are immediately consigned to bad attitude blog purgatory.

When it comes to bad attitude blogs I’ve realised it pays to take heed of wise words from Oasis…

Don’t blog back in anger.

But those bad attitude blogs are slippery characters so I can’t guarantee there won’t be future breakouts.

Often it’s the little things that can seem the most different. Take the shot below. There are a number of things in it that speak of foreign lands and different cultures; the palm trees in the background, the wooden ‘home-made by Robinson Crusoe’ tables and stools, the similarly desert island-esque thatched straw roof. But most of all it’s the sign.

You might think that given the design of this terrace this occupied a prime location overlooking a dreamy beach. But if you fancy popping out for a quick dip from here, the beach is a three hour trek through a ravine. This is at Masca on Tenerife; quite a bit inland.

So by the time you’ve popped out for your swim and made your way back, you’ve worked up a serious thirst. What better to quench it than with some cactus lemonade?

The prickly plants are abundant in these parts and apart from adding a touch of sub-tropical exoticism to the landscape, you can eat their ‘pears’ and, as the sign says, make lemonade from them.

I tried it once – you’ve got to really – and it didn’t really have any distinctive flavours. It certainly wasn’t unpleasant. But these days I tend to be boringly conventional and go for the seductively icy friendship of a cerveza after a strenuous hike.

Sadly the bar no longer looks like this… but the cactus lemonade is still there.

I’m sure everywhere must have anticrisis products. Due to various circumstances, this week I had to buy anticrisis bread. This was mainly because it was the only decent looking bread in the nearest supermercado to where I live.

I’m pretty sure that the precio anticrisis is meant to make me feel all warm and fuzzy that the producer is so concerned about the effect of the economic crisis on the consumer that they have created this wallet friendly bread priced at only €1.09.

Nice idea, except for one thing; it’s half a loaf. It might be an anticrisis price but it’s also an anticrisis size. In fact, when I work it out it has cost me more than my normal full sized loaf.

Exactly whose precio anticrisis is it?

It looks like a squeeze bottle, it’s got a nozzle like one and it smells like washing up liquid but it sure as hell doesn’t act like one.

Even being throttled into a deformed shape such as this results in a piddling, good for nothing, little drip of washing liquid. You could argue that it’s environmentally friendly as it’s impossible to get a decent amount of liquid out of the damn bottle.

When we forgot to buy our favourite brand of coffee during the weekly shop we picked up this replacement from our nearest supermarket. I don’t really have to say anything else…