Friday, January 15, 2010

A day out in Lorca

As most of you know, every Wednesday morning I go to a 'sewing' group in a little town called Turre, five minutes down the road from here. It is called a sewing group, but actually it is just a group of ladies from all over the area, who enjoy some sort of craft work. Some do cross-stitch, other embroidery, quilting or knitting, a few make cards and sometimes one or two make lace. I used to do my latest cross-stitch project but I now have my next lesson in lace-making each week. I have just finished my third project; a small lace circle that I can use to edge a cloth, or fix around a photo frame. I am quite pleased with it. It was a bit more complicted than the bookmarks, and I didn't do a fantastic job of joining it up, but hopefully I mastered the technique, and will do it better next time. Next week I am going to start on a square. I don't know yet whether this is a solid square, or a square edging, but Pam is bringing the pattern for me next time.
Anyway, this group also arranges a few social activities each year away from the hall where we meet. We had a lovely Christmas dinner together last month, and yesterday we went on a coach trip to Lorca market and shopping centre. We had a lovely little 23 seater coach. It was clean and comfortable, and had a huge front windscreen so we had a lovely view as we travelled along. Lorca is a town about an hour's drive down the motorway towards Murcia. It is renowned for it's large market just on the edge of the town. We had a couple of hours to wander around it. There were lots of clothes stalls. It looks a bit like a jumble sale in these pictures, but actually things were quite organised and it was just a case of rooting for the size you wanted. I love the line of 'legs' displaying thick tights and leggins. The Spanish, and some of the British, really feel the cold, and they wear these thick tights for much of the year. There were also quite a few jewellry stalls and I bought a triple string necklace purely to take apart and use the beads and 'dangles' as embellishments on my cards etc! It was only €4 and it would cost me a lot more than that to buy so many charms and beads. The fruit and vegetable stalls were well stocked with a much wider variety of goods than we get in our little market. It was s good day to be buying greens at this stall. Doesn't it look inviting, and it is all so lovely and fresh.
It was a bright sunny day but very, very windy, which made it rather cold. There was no shelter in the market so we sat at an outside stall and had hot chocolate with brandy in it to warm us up! These are my four friends, Yvonne (far left) who owns my local craft shop, Iris, Liz and Sylvia. I asked them all to pose for my blog. The wind got stronger and stronger during the morning and we were all glad we had decided not to leave our coats on the bus. We saw a big planter with a tree in it, blown across the sreet, and one group was caught in a whirlwind and their hair was full of dust and grit. But at least it wasn't raining!
At 1.00 we all got back on the coach and drove to the other side of Lorca to a new shopping mall that only opened about a year ago. Unfortunately this was just as the recession started to bite, so it was bad timing, and several units were unused. It was a lovely modern arrangement with rows of small shops in narrow alleys with wooden awnings to provide shade in the summer. Everything was bright colours and interesting shapes, unlike our long straight rows of shops in UK. There were stairs and escalators to an upper deck where there were mostly food outlets. (Needless to say there was a Burger King among them, but at least there was no McDonalds!) The floor was very shiny marble tiles, (they look wet in the photo but actually they are just highly polished), which must be quite slippery when it rains. Over it all there was a huge canvas awning on a long pole which waved back and forth in the wind in a rather alarming way. And beyond it all there was a beautiful vista of distant mountains. Our little group went into a Chinese restaurant for our lunch and I think it was the best Chinese I have ever had. There were fresh salads, eggs, prawns etc for starters, lots of ready cooked meats and vegetables in crispy batter, bowls of rice and noodles, and a huge choice of meats, fish and vegetables that they cooked for you in a wok or on the grill while you waited, so it was all piping hot. Then there were lots of fresh fruit and catalan creme for dessert. There was a sign that said 'You can come and chose as many times as wish, but please don't take food you cannot eat'. It was very quiet in there so there was no waiting around, and we had lots of little courses, and certainly ate our money's worth. It was also spotlessly clean and a very pleasant place to be. While we were in there, we watched all the tables and chairs outside get blown across the plazza and pile up outside the door. The manager had to try to stack them before anyone was injured. We had our meal from about 2.00 until 3.00, and as we were leaving, it was just starting to get busy. People eat at very odd times out here.
After lunch we went around the main shops to see what was in the sales. I bought a pretty top, and Yvonne bought some clothes and make-up. The whole centre was very very quiet. They must have been glad to see our little group arrive. I hope the economy picks up a bit soon. It would be a shame if now they are finally geting some more modern shops in the area, they all folded again from lack of trade. I really enjoyed the day, though I don't really miss having these sort of shops closer to home. Mostly I am happy to just go the supermarket and the little places in the village.
We have a new shop in Los Gallardos - a butcher - so I thought I would pay it a visit this morning. I knew it would be a bit dearer than the supermarket meat, but I like to support the village traders when I can. So I bought a whole chicken to roast on Sunday. It was a bit dearer than I had expected but when he gave it to me, it was also a bit heavier than I had expected. I looked at the ticket and found that it weighed 3.5 kg, that's about 7lbs! It's more like a small turkey. The chicken portions I buy out here are big, and one is always enough to do a dinner for both of us, but this time I think we'll be eating chicken all week, and all in all, it wasn't expensive at all!
And finally I can report a measure of progress on our road works. We have a new lamp right outside our house! It was on for the first time last night. It is brighter than the one we had before, but at the minute both lots are on. As you can see, we still have a set of paving blocks beside it, and the men are still about 100m up the road from us, but we live in hope that next week our paving will also be done.

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