Sunday, April 10, 2011

Time spent with friends...

I have mentioned before that living abroad, away from immediate family, makes you appreciate more, having a circle of good friends. This is the third of my set of 'catch-up' blogs, and it is mainly about a trip I went on to Murcia city, last Wednesday. This was the bi-annual outing for our Wednesday morning sewing and craft group. We do one around Christmas time, and one when the weather is warming up, but before it gets too hot. This was a perfect day. I only wore a mid-season dress, and although I had a cardigan rolled up in my bag, I didn't need to use it. There were about twenty five of us, and half of us were picked up from the edge of our village around 9.00. We had a quick coffee stop on the way (a bit of a disappointment as there was a power cut and the poor cafe owners were desperately trying to boil pans of water on a gas ring to make hot drinks for us!). On arrival we split into our usual groups of friends and we headed off to look for the cathedral. We did a detour when we spotted a lovely fabric shop, as many of our group are keen patch-workers. Then we had to find another shop that sold threads. (You might expect a material shop to sell reels of cotton, but this one didn't!). I bought a lovely spool of red and gold twisted thread for Christmas decorations. We walked through a maze of narrow streets. I couldn't resist taking a picture of a tiny square with this lovely tree in it, offering a shadey spot to rest your feet. But we continued until finally we spotted the bell tower of the cathedral at the end of the street. When we reached the end it opened on to a huge square, with the vastly impressive cathedral taking up one side of it. It was an interesting plaza, because to the left there was a block of apartments, which at least on the outside, were quite modern in design, and opposite them, along the right side, was a building that looked even older than the cathedral.
The architecture of the cathedral itself was very interesting, being a mixture of Gothic and Baroque styles. There was some beautiful stonework. I liked the statues above the door that were silhouetted against a blue sky. On the left, as we faced it was the famous bell tower. It is on five levels, each level having apertures instead of windows. It is the tallest building in the city, and is home to twenty-five bells.

Inside there were many small chapels off the main aisle, with lovely wrought iron gates, ornate carvings and paintings, and beautiful stained glass windows. We had to creep around as there was a mass taking place in the main church. I just loved this high, high dome in one section, with windows letting in the sunlight all around it. We then walked all round the outside because we wanted to see the 'chained tower' that is in this picture. I have been unable to find out much about it, but a Spanish friend told us that it was built by a nobleman who was then told that he had built it too big so it couldn't be a part of the cathedral. He was not happy about this so he commissioned the making of a stone chain which is 'locked' to the towers on either side of it, hence keeping it well and truly attached. By now we were all desperate for a drink we so we were glad to flop down at a cafe on the plazza and rest our feet for a while. It was then time to retrace our steps to where we had left the coach, at the entrance to Corte Ingles, a major chain of departmental stores in Spanish cities. On the way we passed this man walking his two dogs. They did look funny. He had the tiniest yorkie I have ever seen, and everyone stopped to talk to it. So I went and fussed the boxer. He looked a bit sad and left out, and he was everso friendly. He just wanted a bit of the fuss as well! We met up with the others in the restaurant and had a jolly meal together, and then we had a couple of hours to wander through the store - quite a novelty as we do not usually get to such places. The coach picked us up again at 6.30 and we were home by 8.00. I was well and truly worn out, and fell asleep in my chair almost at once, so for a change, I had a really early night.

Today I had another very pleasant time with a different group of friends, and this time I was able to take Chris along as well. For a while now I have been attending a little group in the village who do painting. It is mostly Spanish ladies who go, so I am gradually getting to talk with some of them. We are a bumbling set of amateurs, and there is no 'teaching' involved. We all just muddle along as best we can. But there is another group called Gallarte (pronounced a bit like guy-art-ay) which stands for Los Gallardos Artists. They meet for a business meeting every few months, and also have social events. Two or three times a year they have an 'Expo' somewhere nearby when members can exhibit their work and try to sell some. They are a mixed group of Spanish and English people, and my friend Eileen, who comes painting with me on Mondays, suggested that I might like to join. Today they had a meeting which I missed because I was at church, but I left as soon as the service finished so that I could join them at a barbeque, up near the sports stadium at the back of the village. I had food ready to pile into the cool bag to take, but I need not have bothered with that as it was all provided. A Spanish family were in charge of food and to start with they toasted long pieces of bread on the fire and topped them with a fresh tomato salsa and thin slices of serano ham. Then they hand mixed meat (pork and chicken I think!) onions and herbs and formed huge burgers, which the husband Paco cooked while his wife sliced up loads of tomatoes and lettuce. Then we were each given an enormous bun with a burger, fried onions, salad and strips of pancetta in it - quite a challenge to get your mouth around it. It was really delicious. There was a huge urn by the table, full of sangria and we could go and ladle it into our cups as we wanted to. We sat around in the shade of the mimosa trees, (we were constantly fishing little yellow bits out of our drinks!), and although it was very hot, there was just enough gentle breeze to keep us comfortable. These ladies are two of the spanish friends I have made. The one at the front, in the shirt and shorts, is Leonita. She thinks I'm funny, and she has made it her job to help me improve my spanish speaking. She told me to sit on the front porch all summer and talk to everyone who goes by!! The lady at the back is Cati (the spanish version of Kate), with her daughter and friend. She runs the spanish side of our local charity for disadvantaged children in the village. Her own daughter has Downes syndrome. They are a lovely family and very friendly with everyone. It was a really pleasant afternoon, and I feel I am making good progress in my New Year aim to 'Integrate'.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for visiting my blog. Your comments are appreciated.