I can't believe it is nearly two weeks since my last post. I seem to be busy doing not very much, but the days fly past.
Barney, our extra dog, went home this afternoon. The girls will miss him for a bit, but they will soon settle into their usual routine. They are in for a difficult week now as, from tomorrow, we have our annual village fiesta. The dogs don't like this as at random times throughout the day and evening, there are loud rockets fired into the sky. Sometimes they signify the start of a race or a procession, but often there is no apparent reason. The dogs are terrified of loud noises, and nearly break the door down in an attempt to get inside, (even when we are sitting outside with them!).
For us, the fiesta is a time of mixed blessings. The music is very loud and goes on until around six or seven in the morning. We are especially affected by the youngsters' disco that is immediately behind us, across the green zone. But fortunately we have aircon in the bedroom, so when we have had enough for the night, we put it on, close the windows, and usually manage to get a good night's sleep.
We actually love the atmosphere on fiesta days. For many of the village folk, this is their only holiday, so they dress up, and wander the streets, buying bits and pieces from the market stalls, and in particular they like to dance. The main plaza has bars set up all around it, and from early evening until the next morning, they have a steady stream of customers buying wines and beers, and enjoying a free tapa with each one. Despite the continuous sale of alcohol, you rarely see anyone the worse for drink, and it is just lovely to see them all having such a good time. There is a big stage built in the centre of the plaza, and every evening there is a succession of singers and dancers from local schools and dance troupes. They do everything from modern disco dancing, to the most traditional flamenco, and we usually sit around and watch them each evening. They finish around 11.00 and then the modern 'pop' orchestra and dancers start, and they just keep going all night.
On the last day, there is a big open air mass for the Virgen del Carmen, our village patron saint in whose honour the fiesta is held.
The first fair ground ride to arrive is the bumper cars. We knew they were on their way when a digger spent hours leveling out the land behind our house. Then we had a day of hammering and clanging, and soon the stand was up. They opened for business last weekend, but fortunately they only operate from 9.30 in the evening and stop dead at midnight. For the fiesta, they too will operate at least until the early hours of the next morning. Several other fair ground rides were being erected as I drove out of the village this morning, so from now until next Tuesday, many of the roads will be closed to vehicles, and we will have to drive up to the top of the village if we want to escape! No doubt I will be posting more about the fiesta after the event.
On Wednesday evening of last week, we went up to our friends, John and Eileen's house, to help celebrate John's birthday. As usual, they had invited a few English, but mainly Spanish friends, so I had a good chance to practice speaking in Spanish. I am getting a bit better at it, but I still need to improve my range of vocabulary. But I didn't find myself asking Eileen to translate for me as often as I used to.
Their house is at the top of the village. It has no real garden, but there is a small courtyard on the ground floor, and several small roof terraces. These are often too hot to make use of in the summer, but in the evening they are lovely, and there is a wide view all along the side of the village to Mojacar in the distance. Of course I took a photo or two. We had a lovely time with them, and I am pleased to feel that we are beginning to make some Spanish friends in the village.
Last weekend I drove up to my friend Donna's house and together we packed a big box full of jumpers and hats for our 'Fish and chip babies of Africa' project. I am still overwhelmed by the response I have had to my initial request for some help, and this time we packed up two hundred and three sets of jumpers and beanie hats. We spread them out on a table in Donna's garden and they looked so bright and colourful. We were quite sad to see them go.
A kind man from Arboleas offered to take them to UK for us free of charge, and as he was making a delivery in Birmingham, I arranged for him to hand them over to Ben. Ben will then drive over to Chester with them to give them to the same lady that I hand-delivered the first sixty sets to when I was over there in May. She will pass them on to the group who are dispatching them to Africa. Unfortunately they are taking the last consignment in September, but I have lots of folk out here who want to continue knitting, so I am busy trying to find a new outlet for them. I already have another dozen sets ready to go. Aren't people amazingly generous and kind?!
Yesterday we had fun sitting watching the birds at the back of us. Each morning we wake up to the chattering of the sparrows who nest all along the eaves of the house next door. Their second brood of babies are just fledged, and they make quite a noise between them. Often they are joined by the swifts who duck and dive, and screech as they fly, but by mid morning they have usually all gone to seek shade and a restful perch. But yesterday, at around lunch time, there was a load of commotion and we saw a huge flock of swifts getting very excited. We couldn't see what it was all about, but usually it means that a nest of flying ants have risen all together, and the swifts see this as a mobile feast. They stayed around for about half an hour and then disappeared again. I guess that is keeping the balance of nature right!
I told you recently that some relatives of Chris' who he hadn't met for fifty years, came to spend a couple of days with us. This week Tony posted this photo to us. What do you think? We took one look and said 'Steptoe (Chris' dad, Sam) and Aurthur Dayley (Sam's mate Harry)'! I have actually got very few photos of the Perry side of the family, so this is a welcome addition to my little collection. I am glad I have a photo of their Grandad to show the boys. They were around two, four and six years old when he died, so have few memories of him.