Many years ago I rescued a small piece of paper from Mum's pin board that I believe was a quote from a calendar. It said "God gave us our memories that we might have roses in December". I kept it for a long time on my pin board but it became close to disintegrating, and I don't think I have it any more. Well my memory may be failing a bit now, but out here I don't need it to have the roses in December. I have beautiful ones in bloom in my garden right now. We cut these back a bit very recently, but still they have several flowers on each plant. They will be cut back hard soon after Christmas, but by Easter they will be in full bloom again. The jasmine that covers the wall behind them was cut almost to the ground this year, but already it is back in full leaf. I see one little tendril of it has latched on the roses and is now waving from the top of them. It looks like a little cartoon bird trying to fly away.
Christmas has finally arrived in Los Gallardos. I thought they had decided to do away with the street lights as part of a money-saving effort this year, but when I went out to feed the dogs at the end of last week, I saw a man in a crane bucket, fixing something to the overhead cables. Now, not only have they put up the lights, but they have given us our own angel on the post outside our house! This is the first time we have had one as our road has been in various stages of it's make-over for the past two years. The angels are spaced on alternate posts from the entrance of the village up to us. Further up there are lights across the streets of little churches with snow falling on them. They all have tiny LED lights which are very bright and twinkle in a lovely way. Across the village at the main plaza there are bands of large snowflakes which also move and sparkle when lit. It seems quite incongruous to me that they chose snowflakes as decorations when half the village have probably never seen snow, but they do look beautiful at night. They were all switched on for the first time on Saturday, and they will be lit each night until the Three Kings fiesta on 6th January.
Another nice thing they have done is to plant poinsettias around each of the trees up the road, and round the plaza. There are four of them in the planter outside our gate and they make a lovely splash of colour. We have had a week of absolutely beautiful days, warm enough to eat our lunch out in the new fly-free area (which we have started referring to as the conservatory, although that's not what it is at all. It just sounds nicer!). It is four o'clock now and I am sitting right by a window that is wide open and the sun is pouring in, but in about another half an hour, the sun will start slipping behind the hill and it will get quite chilly. When I walked the dogs this morning there was a very fine layer of frost on the 'grass', but it was soon gone. I hope it doesn't get any colder or the lovely poinsettias will die.
And talking of the sun setting behind the hill, we had a stunning sunset last Friday. I was talking to Jonathan on the phone and I glanced round to see the whole sky lighting up like a bonfire. It had streaks of gold and red with pale turquoise underneath. I tried to describe it to him but then I just took photos instead. The colour increased until the whole sky was glowing and then it funnelled into banks of grey and red and seemed to be sucked over the top of the hill, until all of a sudden, it was gone. A beautiful experience!
The Gallarte expo that I mentioned in my previous post was the start of a very, very busy week for us. In between other activities I had several baking sessions and managed to complete somewhere around 65 dozen mince-pies. Of course the first few batches were made earlier so that Ben could take some home with him, and we could have some at our little party on the Monday he was here. I haven't kept a tally, but I expect we have eaten a fair few ourselves, and there is a couple of dozen in a box in the larder for us. But the rest were mainly but not all made to order, and they were sold at Gallarte, through my church, to friends from the village, and others at my Wednesday sewing group. I was able to give a good donation to the church funds from the profits of the ones I sold there. Everyone seems to enjoy them so that makes it all worth-while. Now the table has come down off its bricks and I can sit there without resting my chin on its surface again.
The other events that kept us busy last week were the final practice for our singing group (called Cantante) on Tuesday morning and then four concerts, when were singing a selection of carols and Christmas songs. We had a wonderful reception at every venue. The first was in a small bar in Julie's village of Zurgena on the Tuesday night, then at a larger bar/restaurant called la Vida on Thursday night; On Friday we sang at lunch time when our church returned to a bar called the Palms in Urcal where we used to hold our services before we had our own premises. We had a small table-top sale first, then our singing and it ended with many of us sitting down to lovely traditional English style Christmas dinner. And finally we sang at our own Chruch for their carol service on Sunday morning. Cantante is made up roughly half and half of church members and friends from Julie's village, and it was lovely to see so many of the non-regular church folk turning up on Sunday. We still have one more event to look forward to when we join with Coral Maria Auxiliadora at the church of San Ramon Nonato in Zurgena on 7th January. ( I can never remember all that. I have just copied it off the programme)! We will be singing four or five songs in English and they will sing four or five in Spanish, and then we are singing four together - in Spanish.
We were keen to try to get a recording of one of the concerts, so at La Vida, one of the singers managed to set up a static video camera. It had to be on a table at the back of the room so the quality is not perfect but it is quite listenable to, though you will hear some quiet conversation between people watching us. We were asked to wear black skirts/trousers and a plain, warm colour at the top, but when I saw the video I rather wished I hadn't chosen that night to wear my bright orange smock-top! I will put a link to the videos which are now on youtube, at the end of this post. If you have a few minutes do listen to one or two songs. In many of the more familiar carols you can see Julie encouraging the audience to join in with us. Do listen to Silent night when we sang the first verse in Spanish for some Spanish friends who had come to see us sing, and O Holy night which is almost a solo by Julie, with the rest of us joining in at the end of each verse. (She was a professional singer before her retirement, and although she is now in her seventies - I think! - she can still make the hairs on your arm tingle when she sings). It is lovely. She also wrote the words to 'In Bethlehems Stable' which is sung to the tune of a lovely north country folk song called Water's of Tyne. There is one number called 'I sang a song' which was written and composed by Donna who is also a member of the group and she was very helpful at holding our alto group together. We laughed when we saw the video because Chris starts each song with his elbow propped on the railing, but he did stand up to sing and I think he enjoyed being involved as much as we all did. There is nothing like some good old Christmas music to get us all in the mood for one of my favourite times of year.
Click on this link and it will take you to the list of songs. Just click on any you want to listen to. For a band of amateurs, we didn't do too bad, and we certainly gave a lot of people real pleasure.