Market Day

But mainly I am disconcerted by the food. Forget the olives and the smoked meats which look so very tempting. It’s the regular fruit and vegetable stall that amazes me.

The sun was shining over the villa’s swimming pool and the breeze was light across the patio. Boxing Day, the day to recover from the excesses of the previous day, was the perfect day to wander into the nearest town and, upon arrival, we found the local market in (almost) full swing.

The market in Javea town is the kind of market that you do not see too often at home. One wonders, however, if much of it is there for the tourist trade. I am assured it was different last week but the Christmas holidays mean there are fewer traders.

I am taken with several things at the market. Firstly, it is very friendly. This may seem an odd thing to say but I find this kind of street-stall market back home often borders on the agressive. Traders don’t so much ply their wares but thrust them upon you. Secondly, it’s a very mixed market. There is food (to take home) and food to eat while wandering but there are household goods, clothes and a large (very large) selection of leather bags.

Thirdly, I am taken aback by the lack of labels. Walk round my local market on a Sunday morning and all the clothes stalls are straining under the weight of Tommy, Nike or whatever today’s fashion label is (the authenticity of the goods I cannot vouch for). Here, it all seems remarkably brandless.

But mainly I am disconcerted by the food. Forget the olives and the smoked meats which look so very tempting. It’s the regular fruit and vegetable stall that amazes me. The range is astounding and we couldn’t name all the fruits on show. They also look real. By this I mean they are of varying colours, shapes, sizes and, to be honest, in various states of decay. The aren’t the identical specimens you find on the shelves of your local supermarket at home. Of course, I know I can find home/farm-produced organic foodstuffs in England but I’d just forgotten and this market is the day I was reminded.

Maybe it should be a resolution for the new year. Find and use my local farmer’s market.

Happy Christmas

I am in Javea on Spain’s Costa Blanca for Christmas. The usual grey skies and frost of a British Christmas Day are part of the experience for me and have been all my life. The sun and the warmth were a little disorienting at first. Now, of course, I realise Christmas is still the same.

I am in Javea on Spain’s Costa Blanca for Christmas. It’s very different yet very similar. I have family around me. We had turkey and all the trimmings yesterday and opened presents around a (paper) tree. We have plenty of (cheap, Spanish) wine, Christmas pudding and mince pies. The sun, however, is shining and we are able to sit outside and sit in the warmth (if there is a sheltered spot from the wind).

The usual grey skies and frost of a British Christmas Day are part of the experience for me and have been all my life. The sun and the warmth were a little disorienting at first. Now, of course, I realise Christmas is still the same.

Happy Christmas.

End Of A Radio Era

For almost thirty years the JY Prog has been a ratings winner. Lunchtime ratings of five million should not be sniffed at. And today, as he bid the Radio 2 airwaves farewell, I had a listen.

Broadcast radio is a big passion of mine and there is an event that happened today that can not pass without comment. Sir Jimmy Young presented his last show on BBC Radio 2 this morning – bringing to an end twenty-nine (or so) years on the air. There is much discussion as to the reasons behind his departure (here and here) but I don’t want to go into them. Neither does it really matter that I have rarely listened to his show. I am usually in the office where we don’t listen to radios (except today as I am on my own) or, if I am elsewhere, there are other stations I prefer. I do, however, think there are a couple of things worth commenting on.

Firstly, for almost thirty years the JY Prog has been a ratings winner. Lunchtime ratings of five million should not be sniffed at. Jimmy Young has managed to stay at the top of his profession longer than many. In this celebrity-obsessed, five minute fame world, Jimmy Young’s achievement should not go without recognition (his Knighthood at the start of the year testament to his appeal). Where presenters rarely last three years, JY lasted almost three decades.

Secondly, and to me a great contribution to broadcasting, Jimmy Young’s show has always been an interactive experience. There has always been audience involvement and comment long before talk-shows, shock-jocks, email and message boards were around (or even thought of). It’s something that should not be forgotten and I believe it has been a great contribution to broadcasting.

Thirdly, his style may not be to everyone’s taste but Jimmy Young has been able to interview some of the top politicians of the day and get them to answer questions without the need to resort to aggressive interview tactics. He was able to ask the questions many people would like to ask Prime Ministers directly. In an era where politicians (and politics) have been reduced to the level of a sound bite, this is also an achievement worth noting.

Finally, the way in which he has left the network has been sad. It was leaked 18 months ago that Radio 2 were talking to others about taking over the show? In itself, that is not an unreasonable thing to do for the network controller. For it to become a public affair (with questions in the House of Commons) is quite the opposite.

As BBC News has said, it’s a sad end to a remarkable career. Just don’t mention his recording career!

Pop Up (Up and Away)

There has been great discussion recently about pop-ups. Are they doomed? Well, it’s a subject close to my heart as, being in the online advertising/research business for many years, they have become an important part of my life.

I have to ask, how they can properly be controlled? They are a useful marketing tool and can be useful to site publishers outside the advertising arena but some companies have exploited them far too much. MarketingFix notes that Netscape has announced it’s going to start offering the facility to block pop-ups. Interestingly, the pop-up filter has to be enabled by the user and then “Once enabled, the filter is preset to allow pop-ups on some sites, including several of AOL’s own properties”

I only wish it was possible to stop the multiple spawning.