Sunday, December 13, 2009

Watch a baby day be born.

I have a huge amount of music on my computer (enough to play for 8 days straight off without a repeat), and usually when I am working down in my room, I have it on, on random shuffle, so I have continuous music without having to change a CD, and it also means I get to hear the more obscure songs, as well as the popular ones. But one of my favourite singers is a non-traditional folk-style singer called Melanie. She first became recognised after appearing in the American festival Woodstock back in 1969, and she is still recording today. There is one song that I rather like the imagery of called 'Baby day'. Some of the words are .."We were meant to see the beginning of the day. I feel it was planned to live just this way. Take you an apple and take you a song, and watch a baby day be born"... Well, with three young dogs wanting their morning walk as soon as they wake up, at this time of year we get to see the birth of quite a few 'baby days'. The nice thing about it is that they are all different. We never know what we will see as we round the corner at Hueta Nueva, and face the mountains behind which the sun will rise. It has been a bit cloudy some days this week which adds another dimension to the early rays of sun. So here are just a couple of baby days that we witnessed the birth of this week. Lovely, aren't they?
Last week I was busy writing Christmas cards when I heard the doorbell ring. This is a rare occurance but I thought at first it might be my new supply of fairtrade tea arriving, and then I remembered it was a bank holiday out here, so there would be no postal delivery. Anyway it turned out to be a Spanish lady with her little girl, and when I slowed her down I realised that she was asking me to buy tomatoes. So I went to her car where her husband showed me a boot filled with small boxes of lovely tomatoes. I bought one, and there were 6Kg (that's about 13 lbs) of tomatoes for €4. They probably look a bit green to you but all the Spanish people buy them like that in the market. It is only us British who go for the red ones, and it makes sense really because the red ones only last a few days before they are too ripe, and they start to go mouldy and wet, even in the fridge. So hopefully these will keep better, though I must say that, after just one week, they are all red now. I put a dozen or so big ones in the fridge for salads and the rest are in the larder. Now the majority of Christmas preparations are done I shall make lots of soup for winter tea times, and also some red tomato chutney for us, and to sell at the next church coffee morning. The man kept kissing his finger tips and telling me they were 'buenos tomates' and he was right. The ones I used this week were lovely. They have a really good flavour.
My main jobs last week were to get my UK cards posted, and to make mince pies. Well I got the main cards posted but I then had a couple of sets of ATCs to post. They are for organised swaps so there is a deadline for them, and one lot needed to be posted quite urgently. We had to smile as we were watching the news on BBC and the man said that it was the busiest shopping day for Christmas gifts, while here in Spain it was a Bank holiday. In fact it was a holiday on Sunday (Constitution Day) and another holiday on Tuesday (Immaculate Conception), so being Spain, they take the Monday as a holiday too, so for three days we had no shops and of course, no post office either. So on Wednesday, while I was at my sewing group, I dispatched Chris to post my ATCs, but he said the post office was still closed. On Thursday I went up myself to find a group of elderly Spanish folk grouped around the door, and some not very happy English ones who were clutching big piles of mail for the UK. One man said the girl had gone to get the key, but she never came back with it. I also learned that the little girl who runs our office single handed, had been ill and there was no cover for her. Friday morning, I had one last try and this time the door was opened, but inside there were two relief workers who had no idea what they were doing. They had three boxes of unsorted mail on the floor, so all the people without a mail box who just call in the post office to collect their letters, were getting a bit frantic. I walked away from the chaos and drove to Mojacar post office. This is on the playa right in the heart of all the English homes, and it was heaving. There was a queue a mile long. Chris took one look at it and went off to do his shopping, and in true British style I joined the queue. The Spanish don't understand this concept and just come in and walk up to the desk in front of everyone, but sometimes the assistants will tell them they must wait, and others just serve them anyway! I finally crawled closer to the counter, and when there was just one person in front of me, their computers crashed! They wouldn't serve anyone else because they couldn't weigh the letters and packages. In desperation to get my ATCs posted I went and argued with the man that I knew exactly what stamps I needed. I had posted the same package every month and it was always the same postage, and I really needed to post it that day. In the end he very grudgingly threw the stamps at me, and my package was duly posted. Only time will tell whether it reached it's destination on time.
After that I turned my attention to the making of my famous mince pies. I say that because I had built up a reputation at home, for making good mince pies. I always use the pastry recipe in a Marks and Spencers cook book that Eve and John gave me many years ago, and it is a bit special. The little church I attend here, is still meeting each Sunday in a restaurant while the lady who owns it is cooking lunch for her patrons in the kitchen next door. It smells lovely, but is not conducive to a service, especially when she drops a pan lid on the stone floor just as we are celebrating communion, or when she burns the potaoes and sets the alarms off, so grateful though we are to her, we are desperately looking for premises that we can rent for our sole use. We did have a place lined up but that fell through, so we are still looking, but we are hopeful that we will find somewhere very soon. When we do, we will need a fair sum of money to pay a deposit and to furnish it and equip the kitchen etc. So we have started a special fund and we do various activities to raise funds. So I thought, 'stick to what you know you can do', I'll make mince pies to sell. I let slip this plan at my sewing group and was immediately commissioned to make four dozen for our Christmas dinner this coming Wednesday, and then I was given individual orders for a further eight dozen. So over three days I made eight batches of pastry, which has to rest in the fridge over night before it can be handled. I have also been buying up jars of mincemeat everytime I see a new delivery at the little English shop in Turre, and by tea-time yesterday I had made twenty-seven dozen pies! if you are wondering what that looks like, here are most of them. I had already delivered four dozen, and there were about a dozen breakages that Chris and I will have to eat. How sad!! As soon as they were cold I packaged up the orders I had taken, and I took the rest to church this morning, where they sold out in minutes. I have made €50 for the church funds so I am quite happy with that. Now I just have about twelve more cards to make for friends in the village and at the sewing group, and I will be finished.
During the evenings this week I put up some decorations. I have our big tree with all its decorations many of which have survived since the boys were little. They all loved our tree and so did I. There is a millenium bear, a big red treble clef for Ben, a glass ballerina for Emma, ones that the boys and I have made, I can't bear to part with any of them. Each year I introduce one new thing, but there isn't room for much more. I also have my various nativity sets from the little cloth one I made twenty years ago at least, which is getting a bit 'sad', to the big white Mary and Joseph I made with cloth and polyfilla when I saw it done at a craft show, and the native American one with a tepee for the stable, and bison and a wolf for the animals, that I brought back from our holiday in Arizona. I also have lots of candles that come out each year but rarely get lit because I don't want to spoil them! So now it is beginning to feel more like Christmas, and I love it all.

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