A Very Happy New Year to all my followers! I hope you all enjoyed New Year's Eve, however you chose to celebrate it. We always used to spend ours at home because of the younger boys, and the scarcity of baby-sitters on that night, but in later years we had some good times at our son Mike's bar, with lovely live music provided by our youngest son Ben. Since coming to Spain we have tended to go down the road to our local just for the company, but this year we knew we were going out for lunch the next day, so we decided to stay home the night before. We did manage to have the double celebration of the Spanish New Year(11.00 British time) - when traditionally they eat one grape for each knoll of the church bell and toast the new year with cava, and then the English one an hour later. The fireworks around London Eye were pretty spectacular, and I would love to have seen them in real life, but at a time when so many folk are struggling financially, you do have to wonder just how much money went up in smoke during that quarter of an hour?!!
Anyway, on to New Year's Day. Our good friends from the top of the village, John and Eileen, had invited us to lunch at around 1.30, so I went to church as usual but didn't linger too long over coffee afterwards. Chris was waiting for me when I got home and we walked up to our friends' house. They are English, but have lived here for over ten years and have many good Spanish friends in the village so we knew we were in for a 'Spanglish' affair. It turned out that we were the only English guests along with five Spanish couples, so with very little knowledge of the language, Chris was at a bit of disadvantage which he easily overcame by throwing himself into the event and obviously enjoying himself. I managed to converse a bit but I still struggle to understand when they speak to me, but apparently we were a big hit as they kept telling Eileen how wonderful we were! The guests were the village baker Sebastian and his wife Ana, the coffee-shop/bar owners Maria and Pepe, the lady who organises the Spanish side of the village charity Cati and her husband Pepe, Eileen's 'adopted Spanish daughter', as she refers to herself, Nuria and her partner Estoban, and the only ones we had not met with before, Hilaria and her husband Antonio. Until he retired, he used to go to the harbour at Garrucha every day and bid for the newly landed fish in the auction, and then drive to Murcia to sell it to the hotels. He prefers to be called Cabillo which is a family nickname handed down through the generations. They all just love it when the English folk can drop their natural 'reserve' and try to speak to them in their language, and join in with all they are doing. Needless to say there was plenty of drink flowing but I managed to dilute mine considerably with Casera - fizzy water with just a touch of sweetness and lemon which is so much nicer than lemonade or soda water as a mixer. The table was well layed with entremesas (plates of cold meat, cheeses, olives, crackers, bread and so on) and then we had the choice of two hot dishes. The Spanish ladies love this sort of meal and they always sit around the table eating nibbles and all talking at once, and they insisted I join them and chat too.
Our friend's house is a lovely old Spanish village house with lots of small rooms leading out of one another, and under the stairs they have a built-in bar which is John's home when they are entertaining. He used to run a bar, so while Eileen is busy with the food, John sits in his little kingdom effortlessly pouring all his friends their usual tipple, while also keeping a steady flow of music from the CD player and photographing the proceedings! When we had all eaten our fill, the music changed to a Spanish CD, with all the favourite songs on it and everyone had a good sing-song. Sebastian had a superb voice and he held us all together, and luckily Eileen had a file with a lot of the words in so I was able to join in with several of them. Some people started dancing, something else that the Spanish all love to do, (so does Chris!). Here I am after being guided (or pushed) through a pasadoble by Cabillo, who barely came up to my shoulders but who had a very big heart! He kept banging his heart and saying "Now you are my family; I am your brother". His party trick was to balance a glass on his head, so Chris had to have a go and then tried one on his knees etc. So Pepe then started the idea of using a plate (Chris used the dish of butter and I don't suppose I need to tell you where that ended up!) Then it was the ladies turn. Having just recovered from this hilarious stunt, some of the women went to the kitchen and returned with anything that made a noise, such as a saucepan and its lid, glasses and so on. An empty bottle and a fork were thrust in my hand. There were even a couple of people with castanets and a guitar that no-one could play, and we proceeded to march up and down the street making as much din as we could and singing a song that was something to do with welcoming the New Year. We managed to disrupt folks evenings in a couple of bars down the main street, but it was obviously a local custom and everyone greeted us with smiles and hugs. We managed to keep going until around 9.00 and then we went home, and having just settled the animals we went to bed and slept soundly! We have made some lovely Spanish friends and the New Year has well and truly arrived.
We took quite a few photos, but lots of them were not very clear, but I will put the better ones in a folder on my gallery. Feel free to share the fun by clicking here. There is also a 12 second video of my dance with Cabillo below this post. Just click the white arrow to view it. It is dark but it gives you an idea of just how much noise 14 people can make in a small room even as they are enjoying themselves!