Sunday, December 16, 2012

Counting down to Christmas

It is really feeling more like Christmas now, and I love it. We are several concerts into our Cantante programme, and there is nothing like some Christmas music to get you in the mood. We had a concert on Friday at a place called La Estacíon in Alfoquia. The name means 'Station' and it was quite literally in an old, disused station building, converted into a function room with a small stage at the front and a make-shift bar across the back. At first I thought it was a bit stark and chilly, but they had put some pretty trees and other decorations at the front, and crackers on each table, and once the people started arriving it soon warmed up. It was acoustically good in there, and I think it was our best concert to date. 
This morning we led the singing at our church carol service and that was lovely. There were several Spanish visitors in the congregation which was nice, so one of our members translated throughout the service and they did appreciate it. (She is English but has a Spanish husband so she is very fluent. I did find I could understand more of what she said than I used to be able to, but it will be a long time, if ever, before I can speak it like that!) I was on refreshment duty after the service and I had taken along five dozen of my mincepies which all disappeared. It was great to see the building so full as we are usually only a congregation of about thirty to forty people. My friend and I were kept busy making tea and coffee while another friend served mulled wine. It was a lovely friendly, happy atmosphere, but of course, I was too busy to take photos for once.

In my last post I showed you a man fitting our street lights to a pole outside our house. They were switched on this weekend and look very pretty.
We also saw some Christmas lights on Wednesday when I went on my sewing group annual outing to Granada. We had to be on the coach at 8.00 so it was an early start for me, and we didn't get home until 10.00. I was shattered and went straight to bed! Out here, Christmas is fairly low key, but it is a bit more apparent in the cities. I'm not a shopaholic, and usually only go when I am actually in need of something that isn't available locally, but I was with friends who were set on buying new dresses for Christmas and  we had some fun rifling through racks of party frocks. They have too many frills and flounces for my taste, but they do use some very pretty fabrics. 
As it got dark we walked through the shops to the plaza where the trees and fountain were all lit up. There were rows of temporary chalets all round the plaza with stalls selling hand crafted goods and I enjoyed browsing around these. 
We also went in a tent that housed a traditional Belén or nativity scene. In Spain this does not mean a stable a few shepherds and three kings; it incorporates all aspects of village life. 

Covering the whole of a huge table, there were figurines of men working in the fields, market stalls, sausages being prepared after the pig-killing, wood men, mothers playing with or feeding their children etc, etc. 

Somewhere in amongst it all you will find a stable with the baby and Mary and Joseph, and nearby there will be a field probably with a goatherd rather than a shepherd, and three kings arriving, but you do sometimes have to hunt for them. It is fun seeing what other activities you can spot. Some cities have several Beléns set up in the streets, and even some private houses have quite elaborate ones. All the characters can be bought in specialist shops throughout November and December. The photos were taken in a very dark tent so they are not too good, but they will give you an idea of what it is like.

The one thing that is not quite so Christmassy is the very mild weather we are enjoying. This week it is back up to around 19 degrees, and even warmer in sunny, sheltered spots. We sat outside to eat our dinner at around 4.00 today, and it was lovely. It does get chilly at sundown so we have to make sure we have all the doors and windows closed before then to conserve the heat. 
This week Chris bought me a little halogen heater for my craft room which is nice when I want to work down here all evening. We have a color gas fire in the main room which is very efficient, and my halogen uplighter is often all I need down here in my craft room, but if I am working on my blog, or editing photos etc and want to sit at the computer for a long time, it does get cold even for me, so the heater will be just perfect for some instant heat.

The mild weather is encouraging everything to grow in the garden rather than to take a winter sleep! As I thought, we do have "Roses in December" (see my earlier post on 25th Nov.) Isn't this just perfect? By the way it had water droplets on it, not because it has rained, but because my tubs were so dry today that I got the hose out and gave them all a drink. I nearly lost my beautiful poinsettia because it had dried out, but I spotted it drooping just in time I think.
We also have a beautiful patch of pink by our garage gates. This is incarvillea and it is really in next-door's garden, but it always comes through to us to face the sun. It has been flowering for weeks and weeks and still looks beautiful. Some people think it is a nuisance because it is such a vigorous grower, but I love it. We keep it trimmed back all year so that it doesn't take over, and I think it is a lovely way to hide the very basic chain link fence.

And finally I want to give you a link to a video. Do click on it and watch it right through if you have a few minutes. A while ago our son Ben and his friend Bob worked together on the words for a charity song which they called 'Santa won't be coming". Then Ben wrote some music for it and their other friend Charlotte sang it. Later, through some of Bob's contacts, they were able to take it to a Catholic primary school in Redditch. Ben arranged the music and the school choir learned the chorus and supplied three little soloists for some lines. Then they all got together and he recorded it. Another contact made it unto a video which is now for sale through the school and the money will go to the Catholic charity CAFOD. I think they did it really well. Ben certainly enjoyed his part. I think it is a shame they didn't include one shot of him playing the piano at the end, but he is in the credits. He is now hoping to do something similar with the Birmingham youth choir for next year. Anyway, you can watch the video by clicking here.

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