We actually woke up today to find a trace of frost on the grass where Chris takes the dogs first thing, but before long this had gone and there was sun shining from a clear blue sky. Unfortunately at this time of year, none of the morning sun gets into the kitchen, so it was chilly in there. I am glad enough of the shade in the summer so I shouldn't complain. It is actually one of those days when it is a lot warmer outside than it is anywhere in the house, so we decided to make the most of it and go for a walk. We knew that part of the pueblo regeneration scheme was to build a new sports centre up near the big swimming pool at the top of the village. Last time we looked it was a half-finished shell so we thought we would go and see what progress had been made. Well, we were actually very impressed when we found it was almost finished. The building is a big, white modern structure and in big letters it says Pabellón Municipal, Los Gallardos. This means town pavillion. When we got up there we found the grounds were almost complete as well and the men were busy painting the lines for parking spaces. Through the open door we could see a reception area, cloakrooms and a very large hall, and we believe there is also a gym. The side of the building is one of the perimeter fences of the pool and the changing huts have gone, so we presume there are now changing rooms inside the new building. To the rear, what looks like a strip of sandy soil is actually a steep bank, and up above that there is a big football pitch. You have seen several photos of this on earlier blogs - in particualr the San Isidro fiesta which partly takes place there. It was an aweful gravel pitch that must have been painful to play on!, but now it is covered in an all weather surface that looks like grass. Again men were busy painting the lines, and fixing a high net to the fence behind the goals. It has made the pitch look so much bigger. The Los Gallardos team are doing quite well and they will now be able to host visitors matches which they couldn't do before. There are lovely new flood lights at each corner, and where there used to be steep steps dowm to it that served as seating for spectators, there is now a concrete slope and we think there will be proper terraced seating there soon. Chris had to walk on the new surface to try it out! There is a flat area above the seating banks, with a small club house, and from there you get a lovely view of the new pitch with the misty mountains making a dramatic backdrop. Further back from this there is a multi sports pitch with nets for tennis, basket ball and five a side football, and also a small court that we thought was for badminton, so for a relatively small village we are going to be very well supplied with sporting facilities.
To get to all this we can now walk to the top of the village and cross the rambla on a new road that was built last year, through a tunnel under the motor way and up a slope on the other side. It used to be a winding road around the outside of the village and then a rough track up to the centre. The road has been open for use for a while now, but today workers were back building a retaining wall below it and it looks as though they will be smartening up the sandy track that used to be the only way across the rambler, and which is still used by workers on the farmland further round the rambla. These workers on the wall turned out to be women and they were were tickled pink to see me taking a photo of them. We walked back this way instead of taking the new road back into the village, and we carried on around the rambla. These horses are usually in their field there, and around them are fields of well-tended olive trees, and fields prepared ready for the new seasons sowing of vegetables. When I looked back from the rambla I saw this nice view of the village church through the grasses. We climbed the steep bank that runs along the rambla and came out half way down the village in a little alley that runs beside the Post office. We were surprised to see it was open, not least because it had a sign on the door clearly stating that 'This office is closed to the public from 24th December to 1st January'! Anyway, when we got home I popped straight back up there and posted a card to Oliver. It isn't his birthday until 7th January, but I might not get another chance with the three kings celebrations coming up soon.
After our walk I put the oven on and soon got the kitchen warmed up. Then after lunch we sat outside in the sun with our books and had a lovely relaxing afternoon. Of course I took my camera with me on our walk and this afternoon I have taken a set of photos that I took spanning the whole view at the top of the village from our side of the rambla, and used them to make a new panoramic picture. This is now at the end of my blog in place of the rather unseasonal beach picture. I was concentrating on making sure I had clear markers in the pictures for joining them up, and I didn't notice that I had too much sky in all of them, and not very much ground, so one day I'll go up there again and have another go! In the meantime I have posted this one, because those of you who have been here and seen it,. may be interested to see all the changes that have been made.