One day left before the Tunisian election

Saturday 25TH October 2014

I was out the door and in the Medina by 8.30 am this morning, in case there were any food shortages. I have moved into a Medina, that everyone living here, is trying to get out of.

The was indeed a shortage. A shortage of people. It felt like New Year’s Day, with that laid back, empty, relaxed feeling. It’s a four day holiday over this weekend, fri-mon for some schools, offices, and the election is tomorrow sunday 26th October.

Not having seen the motorway, I doubt if there was the thursday night mad dash into the country side, that we expect in the USA or Europe. I don’t see anyone, or anything moving that fast. Its as if every one is half asleep.

Instead of going to the food market, I went to the beach to do a good walk in 23 degrees, clear blue skies with a light breeze. Perfect.

A few scattered folks passed me by. One jogger. About 18 europeans laid out early on the only loungers still available. A few fisherman. Two or three mating couples, and one dog who had just had puppies. Not enough people to even hassle you.

I walked, sat, took a video and wondered back via the vegetable market, happy to see at least, some activity. I bought the flame red carrots straight out of the ground for juicing,(1 kilo 44p) a piece of pumpkin, for a Mauritian curry recipe I found in the Guardian last night, cucumbers for salads and juicing (1 kilo 40 p) and a pretty pink T shirt for a gift.

A collection of a few Medina locals, a few date coloured tourists, ambled about, but there no sign of any election fever. It’s not apathy, as that comes from over exposure, and they Its haven’t had that.

I walked the empty, neglected, elegant, solid looking mid rise side street buildings built by the french in the 1930s. The white walls are flaking and weather beaten, trimmed with the wrought iron lattice work of the pale blue window forget, with is obligatory.

Its all very reminiscent of Nice, after a short, light, urban, guerrilla war.

Its great real estate. Its Centre Ville. The masonry and roofs, for the most part are intact and on solid foundations. If the entire Medina, and its huge walls hasn’t already slipped into the sea, and crumbled away, this place was built on bed rock. The ancients weren’t stupid a 1000 years ago, and didn’t build on shifting sand, marshes or the Thames Estuary.

I want to join some local architectural preservation society and help save some of the building facades, before the architects and developers, run amok. There is enough re plumbing and re wiring here to keep the whole of Poland busy for 10 years, but there is no danger of that, as they aren’t going to let the Poles in to work.

The local tradesman have the market to themselves, and can continue creating havoc, mess and misery for every one who needs them.

If you have heard the horror stories about workers in the home, don’t believe them. The truth is much worse. Its beyond belief and you couldn’t put it into a third rate play. No one would believe you. I know.

A few huge hotels remain deserted along the beach front with no glass windows, a smattering of security and surprising little vandalism. If you left 300 empty hotel rooms in Europe they would not be empty for long. One owner took the precaution of setting fire to the place just to ensure no one moved in, and I suppose a decent insurance claim covered the loss in earnings.

Buying here as a foreigner is discouraged unless you buy new, in the tourist zone, at inflated prices. If you have heard the horror stories about purchasing here, don’t believe them. Its much worse. I know.

I asked a local man today “Do any of the parties want to encourage overseas private investment in real estate here?”

“No” he said and smiled. “There is not enough for the people and they don’t want the prices going up” (they don’t care about the tourist zone as no local would dream of living there)

I play a mental Monopoly in my mind as I walk, and buy up entire streets, gentrify entire neighbourhoods, list every building older than me, plus a few major palm trees, planted by the french.

I also mentally clean all the beaches, replant the Medina gardens, endorse a program to inoculate and neuter the cats, and get company sponsorship for a fleet of tasteful rubbish bins. They don’t need people like me interfering.

I know english people that fled from here, after hearing gunfire, during the revolution so I am aware anything can ignite at any time but at the moment there is nothing to report.

I shall go and battle with the pumpkin…


Food in small kitchens

Excerpt from “Downsize your home and regain your freedom’
Amazon and Kindle

Don’t worry, i’m not even going to think of giving you a bunch of ‘small kitchen recipes’.

I had a small kitchen in different countries  and I ate completely differently in all of them, as I love markets and go for whats in season, inexpensive and ripe.

If masses of  huge kitchen utensils are now packed away keep out 2 plates, 2 bowls, 4 mugs, 4 glasses for juice, a frying pan, large pasta pan, med pan, small milk pan, a pile of plastic salad bowls, some cutlery and wooden spoons, bottle opener and can opener .

I can’t live with out a carrot juicer, soup whisk and orange squeezer.

To make this easy  there are a few jobs that are exactly the same on a limited work surface or a huge spacious kitchen.

Making a salad.  Fill the sink with everything,  wash it all well and drain in a large calendar. Chop, peel and dice when you next pass buy next.

Making a good large soup.  Wash everything, chop, sauté in large pan, add speices and herbs and water, bring to the boil and simmer. Go and watch TV.

Frying fish is a huge problem as the whole place will smell including your clothes. Put it in the oven or poach it. Go and relax.

Pasta, rice, noodles (get a wok) needs large pan to boil water. Don’t go too far:)

Sauces need a good base, fresh ingredients and attention. Stay and stir or it will all burn you will ruin the meal.


Clean as you go! You have no room. Use items then rinse immediately and wash as you go.

Buy spices and herbs from the country you are living in or buy in the ethnic shops they come from.

Make enough for two days as your fridge will be small and not full of nibbles.

Shop every day like the french.. A smaller quantity of quality products is delightful to pick up. I have not done a ‘big weekly shop’ for years.

Make dinner in the mornings. Do your preparation in the morning, chopping, peeling and washing, or at least by 4.00pm. Either pop it straight into the oven or let it marinate before serving.

Never cook when your hungry in a small space. You will be frustrated, impatient, you will spill, burn, drop stuff and loose the plot

Have emergency items like ham, cheese, smoked salmon with beelines, caviar, croissants, tinned sauerkraut, tinned spinach, puy lentils, frozen petit pops, sweetcorn, good jams, peanut butter, nuts, dried fruits, cereals for emergency snacks.I always have a large tin of Confit de `Canard in France to heat with red wine in case I have no time. In the UK I rely on risotto rice or pastas.

Do not eat crisps while you cook. Its cheating.