Saturday, July 23, 2011

Phew! It aint half hot mum!

I hadn't realised until I came to do this post, that it is almost two weeks since my last entry. We have survived another fiesta, and all evidence of it has disappeared from the plazza. I am only including a couple of photos of the event, because, Spanish traditions being as they are, any pictures I take would be the same as those I took last year, and the year before etc. But we did go over and join in with the fun each day. I love all the music, decorations and happy chatter. These are the lights that they string from a central pole to all the edges of the plazza. I took this one at dusk and I think they look better then rather than late at night. On Friday evening I sat and watched all the children from the local dance school doing their flamenco dancing. The smallest tot was only about four or five, but they go right up to the upper teenagers. It is nice to see that so many of them still want to learn the traditional styles as well as the modern disco dancing. My friend's grand-daughter was dancing so I promised to be there to watch. We also went over on Saturday evening to watch the special open-air mass for the Virgen de la Carmen. It begins with a procession and the arrival of the statue of the virgen at the plazza. The village choir accompany the mass and they sing so well. Then all the villagers who want to, bring bunches of flowers that are piled onto a trestle next to the statue. After the mass they collect them again, and process up to the church where they leave them. It is an occasion for all the lasses to dress up in traditional wear. They look so pretty, but those dresses can't be all that easy to move around in.

The fiesta music was again very loud. It was an extra disco that they were building at the back of our house. It started around 9.00 in the evening and went on until the next morning. In fact it was still playing when we got up around 8.30 on Sunday morning. I wish I had the energy to walk round there and see if anyone really stays there all night. Sometimes it sounded as though it was competing with the other disco just around the corner, to see who could make the most noise, and between them was a huge bumper car stand that sounded a siren everytime a session was over, so we didn't get much peace for a few days. But at night we just shut all the doors and windows and put the air con on, and we managed to sleep reasonably well.

The worst thing about all the fiestas is the rockets. Throughout the four days they continuously let off rockets. They don't seem to be signals that something is about to start or finish, they are just completely random. They let off anything from three to ten in quick succession. There is nothing pretty about them; just a puff of smoke and a very loud bang. In my room, which faces over the back, I can hear the whoosh as they go up, so I am ready for the bang, but it can give you quite a start if you are not expecting it. The dogs are terrified of them, and every time they hear the whoosh, they are climbing the walls and doors trying to get inside. By the time we have let them in, the bangs are all over for another hour or two! They even broke down the fence while we were out and we found all three of them cowering in the front porch when we got home. But if we bring them in all day in anticipation of the bangs, they get restless because they are not used to being confined. Some of our friends even put their dogs in kennels for fiesta week, but I think that is a bit extreme. We just try to be at home with them for most of the time, and maybe in the end they will get used to them.

We didn't go over to the plazza quite so often this year because it is so hot. The temperature in the shade is averaging in the mid thirties this month but it must be well into the forties out in the afternoon sun. It is too hot to walk around in, or to sit out in unless you are somewhere very shady and there is a breeze. I am told that we are on red alert which is a reminder to take sensible precautions against dehydration and sun stroke. So we are drinking lots and lots of water, and no 'mad dogs and English men' here - we stay indoors for the siesta time with the fans or air con on, and just rest. The dogs sometimes come in for a cooler rest with us, but usually they just flake out in a patch of shade all day. We feed them much later because they don't want to eat while it is hot, and then they have a run around in the evening. Even Arwen abandonned me in my craft room for the hottest days and set up home in our bathroom. This never gets direct sun so it is probably the coolest room. But it is a bit un-nerving to pop to the toilet and find a ball of white fluff with two big eyes staring at you as much as to say, 'what are you doing invading my teritory'!

To the left, at the back of our house, there is a half-built house. I think perhaps it is a family project that they do a bit of whenever they have the time or money. Every now and again we see a few men working on it, and then nothing for months, so progress is slow. It is going to be a beautiful house when it is finished though. This week they have been working on the roof of a small central tower, and I have been really worried about them. Four men have been up there in the full sun from 7.30 in the morning until 7.30 at night. They didn't stop for siesta. They were all in long sleeves and trousers and a sombrero for protection, but it must have been so hot. They were walking round on the sloping tiles with no ropes or nets. One poor man was laboriously carting buckets of concrete up a ladder and returning with an empty one for the next load, while the other three were working with the tiles. But they got it done, and apparently without accident. Now they have gone, so I don't know when the next bit will be done.

Surprisingly, today dawned quite overcast and several degrees cooler. It is strange to see 29ยบ on the thermometer and be thinking, 'Oh it's quite pleasant out today'! Anyway I took the opportunity to do a little bit of work in the garden. Our window boxes that had looked so lovely back in the spring, had gone over and were very sad. So I popped down to the garden centre and bought a few flowers, and replanted them. So now we have pretty petunias in the two front boxes, with a couple of other bits at the ends, and the one on the spare bedroom sill at the back has some trailing verbena and a taller plant that I don't recognise. They all look very nice again. I watered them in and left them on the front wall to settle, then after lunch, Chris put them all back in place, and hosed away all the mess I had made in the yard! I'm not a tidy gardener.

While I was in the garden a van drove passed, then stopped and an old man got out and walked towards me. He was going to leave again when he heard I was English but I encouraged him to try and talk with me and it turned out he was selling tomatoes and peppers. So I said I would have two kilos of tomatoes and one of peppers, which he weighed out on a rickety scale balanced on top of his veggies, so I have no idea whether it was accurate, but he gave me very generous measures anyway. It cost me three euros. He tipped the peppers into a bag I had fetched from the house but he wouldn't do it with the tomatoes. He insisted on carrying them in for me and reverently laid them in a single layer on my kitchen table. He had a point as they easily bruise, but they had been all piled up in a crate in the back of his van! They smell gorgeous, just like the ones I used to pick from my greenhouse In UK, but then, he had probably just picked them too. They are fairly firm but ripe so won't keep for long, but I am hoping to make some more of my chilli and ginger jam in the next couple of days, and despite it's name, the main ingredient is tomatoes. As I was busy in the garden I left them on the table and when I returned to get our lunch, I found they had been attacked by my fruit eating cat, Baggins. He was a picture of innocence curled up in a chair, but he left the evidence behind! Nedless to say, the rest were quickly deposited in the fridge until I am ready to use them, though we did have one each with our lunch and they were lovely and sweet and juicy, so I don't really blame Baggins. It is just such a strange thing for a cat to like!

Before I leave you I must just mention Ben's music again. He has been busy training for his new role as train conductor. He had three months training which finishes this week, and he has passed his exams with flying colours, so very soon he will be on his own train, somewhere near Birmingham, because he is based at New Street Station. Anyway, he has still found time to write some more music. You may remember that last year Tommy Franzen (So you think you can dance finalist last year) used Ben's music for his showreel. Well he asked him for some more this year and they have worked together on a piece which Tommy dances to, and demonstates his choreography skills to. It is not my style of music. I like it when Ben write more folksy songs and sings them, but it sounds good, and fits Tommy's moves perfectly which is what it is all about. You can see the showreel, with Ben's byline at the end, but clicking here.

Well done to anyone who has managed to read all the way through my ramblings. I won't leave it so long next time and then I can keep my posts shorter again!


  1. I think your taller flower in the window box is a Diascia. Mine has been flowering for months. Jean x

  2. Oh my goodness those tomatoes do look so ripe, how lucky for you to be able to get them for such a good price with the peppers too. I've never heard of a cat eating tomatoes, that really made me chuckle.

    I love reading about your life in Spain, thank you so much for sharing with us :)

    Love Mandy xxx

  3. aww your cat is soooooooo cute :)
    love hannah xx

  4. Wow...what a great post. I enjoyed every word of it right to the bottom LOL. I felt like I was there at the fiesta the way you wrote about it, it must be really neat to see. Your vegetables look so yummy and FRESH! Can't really blame the cat now can you? Thanks so much for sharing the show reel that was AWESOME and I'm so glad you visited me!! Have a great weekend!


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