BACK in early 2006 we found the shopping hours hard to get used to (actually, we still do).
Ten till half one then half four till eight. Three hours for lunch!
It was so cold where we lived that, when we managed to force ourselves out of bed at a warmer 11am, we needed to break into turbo to do our shopping.
By the time we got ready and drove the 20 miles to the nearest town, the shops were usually about to close, which would then mean a three-hour wait.
Still, at least the “all-day” supermarkets would be open.
They weren’t. It seemed that, on that day, our region was having a local bank holiday and all of the shops were shut.
That’s like saying Hartlepool is closed but Sunderland is open. We tried again the next day.
No self-raising flour, no tea bags, cheddar cheese, suet, corned beef, baked beans, the list went on.
No organisation either, so finding what you would expect to be next to each other was a “no-go”.
Gone were the trolley dashes and “in” was really serious searching, which proved to be doubly difficult, as we were looking for things that they didn’t have.
Sandwiches were almost distant memories until we found a loaf that looked very English.
Well, it was sliced bread rather than the long bars of hard bread but, unfortunately, it still left me craving for a Morrisons or Asda special.
We went in search of pasties.
Okay, we didn’t expect to find a Greggs bakery but we did expect to find pasties and sausage rolls.
Wrong again – but they did have empanada, their idea of pie.
Measuring about eighteen inches in diameter, we knew we wouldn’t be able to get through it all. Disillusioned, we went for a cup of tea.
Tea made with hot milk just doesn’t taste the same.
The assistant beckoned me behind the counter, to show him how to make a cup of tea, which was even proving difficult for me, as the water didn’t reach boiling point. I rest my case.
And that’s when we got to experience their local wine.
Two glasses of local red wine arrived – and something to eat came with our drinks, as well.
This was our chance to try a “one-person” portion of the Spanish pie and, as I tried to get the pie middle to come away from the crust, I worried about pebble-dashing the smartly-dressed people sitting at the next table.
Their pastry resembled crusty bread and I mentally prepared an English list, which would include bringing Greggs pasties and sausage rolls back from England, when I went to visit my family.
And I was hoping that that would be very soon.
Still, at only two euros for wine and food for two people, we definitely weren’t going to complain!
At the end of our shopping trip, I wondered just when did Spanish workers do their non-food shopping?
Closed for three hours for lunch during the week, open a half day Saturday and closed all day Sunday, just what was their system and would we ever get used to it?
And where was the self-raising flour for making proper pastry?
Galicia 0 Hartlepool 3.
In Hartlepool, it’s simple, isn’t it?
You walk into any supermarket and you can find what you want.
With similar items being located in the same or nearby aisles, you can do a mental shop and go home knowing that you’ve got everything you need.
Most shops don’t close for lunch and you can shop on a Sunday.
You walk into one of the cafes and the tea is gorgeous, every time.
Pasties and pies never cease to please and the scones, oh, the scones in all the cafes.
Time would see those English pasties and pies, as well as other “must haves”, making the journey to Galicia in other people’s luggage as well as our own.
Time would also allow that empanada to taste quite interesting too.