Sunday, June 2, 2013

Reliving the holiday and moving on.

I realise that I have only shared with you a few of my holiday photos, but we have been so busy with other events that I feel I should move on. So I will leave the holiday with two last links for you.
One of the things that I loved both in Seville and

Cordóba was the wide range of beautiful patterns in the tiles of pavements, walls and ceilings, in the wrought iron rejas at the windows, and on paper place mats, beer mats, and shop fronts. The mathematician in me responded to the regular repeat patterns, and as a crafter I loved the skilled use of colour and shape. Many of these patterns will crop up in my crafting in future projects so I put together a file of pictures showing just some of them. There are no captions but I don't think they need any. You can see them by clicking here.

In Cordóba, next to the beautiful Mezquita which I showed in a previous post, there was another ancient building called the Alcazar. This was in itself, not particularly unusual, though it had some interesting mosaics on display, which were discovered in the area, and for those who braved the steep and narrow stone steps in the heat of the day, the views from the top were amazing. But the reason visitors flocked to the Alcazar was to view the beautiful gardens. There were empty patios, peaceful pools surrounded by trees for a quiet rest, long stretches of water where the tinkling of little fountains added to the tranquility, carefully tailored trees, neatly planted flower beds and other areas where wild flowers ran riot.  We spent ages walking around it. As I write this I am uploading another folder showing photos of it, again without captions to save time. I will not publish this until the folder is ready. To see it in all its beauty, just click here.

So what have we been up to since our holiday. Well, during the first week we had the Fiesta de San Isidro. This is a smaller affair than the summer fiesta, but fun all the same. It is held on the Saturday closest to 15th May, (the actual saint's day). It starts with a mass at the village church followed by a 'romeria' which is literally a country walk, but which on this occasion is a group of folk from the village walking behind a lorry that carries a statue of San Isidro. The first years we were here it was a a little cart pulled by a mule, but he must have been retired because it has been a lorry for the last couple of years. 
This is a noisy procession which wends its way up to the sports centre just outside the village. Here there is a very pleasant picnic area, and families gather there to eat their own food, or to wait for the 'gran paella' to be cooked, and served up free to all comers. Our son Michael prides himself on the paellas he cooks, so he will have been disappointed to hear Mikey say that ours was "better than his dad's"! Seating is limited up there so we take our own. But I love the way one family went up early to make sure they would get a table.
San Isidro is the patron saint of the agricultural workers, and the fiesta is always celebrated with a paella and it is dressed up to look so pretty, with a flower arrangement in the centre, lemon 'flowers', little baskets made from oranges, and hearts cut from red peppers. In the evening there is the inevitable music and dancing at the top of our street. We met up with our friends John and Eileen for a while, so Mikey had a chance to see how we party in Spain, and then we left them to it and went home to bed. I've made a little collage of some of these images.

I took little Kim to his first puppy class that week too. He was very good and they were impressed with him. He was the youngest one there, and the man thought he might be too young, but he wasn't a bit phased by the bigger dogs, and did everything they asked him to. Unfortunately it turned out to be the last class for the summer, because it gets too hot for the puppies, and they just want to be left in peace! The man doing the classes is a retired police dog handler, and he suggested that when Kim is few months older, I might like to have a few one to one lessons with him, as he thought he would be a big a strong dog, so I need to know I can control him. He's actually very affectionate and much easier to handle than Miki and Chico were as pups, so I may take up the offer of a few lessons, as he is intelligent and I think he will respond well.

The day after our grandson Mikey went home, we had our first Cantante concert of the season. It was in a beautiful venue - Convento de la Victoria in Vera. It was the old chapel from when the building was a convent, and it had a high domed ceiling, an elaborate backdrop, and attractive archways along each side. 

The acoustics were excellent and we really enjoyed performing there. We have a good, varied programme starting with an African chant and passing through such old favourites as 'When I'm sixty four' and 'Do do ron ron', through softer songs - 'All through the night' and 'Softly as I leave you', a stirring rendition of 'Guide me oh Thou great Jehovah', one slow and beautiful and one very fast Spanish song, and ending with the beautiful 'Do you hear the people sing?' from Les Miserables, moving straight into the 'Battle hymn of the republic', with a few extra 'Glory, glory hallelujahs' at the end because no-one wants it to stop!

There are a few other songs as well, and some lovely

solos from our pianist Sue, Dave on his clarinet and saxophone, and of course our leader and singer Julie.

We have done three concerts now and we have three more to do as well as a private wedding where we are entertaining the guests as they arrive, and leading the community hymn singing. The last of the actual concerts is an important one for me as I have been involved in helping to organise it at a bar on the edge of our village. We do not charge an entrance fee for any of our concerts but we have a donations box, and the money taken is shared between the local Red Cross who are still helping families who lost everything in the floods last September, and ASADIS, the charity for the disabled children in our village and the surrounding area. But at this local concert all the money will go to ASADIS. Many of the children who are helped by this charity will be at the concert with their families, and a group of other children from the village are starting the programme by singing two ABBA songs, (in Spanish of course). There are only eight of them but they sing with such gusto that they make nearly as much noise as the choir! My Spanish friend Cati, who is the founder of ASADIS, has been teaching them, and Julie and I went along to their practice session this week. It should be a great night, and I am really looking forward to it.
We had another concert on Friday night, but we didn't hang around afterwards because there was a fund raising evening, also for ASADIS, at our local bar, El Naranjo, that we wanted to get back for. We were working with Vera branch of Lions, to raise the money to buy a special walker for one of the little girls in the village. She has cerebral palsy, and she has just started school and now needs a special frame to hold her upright and enable her to stand and walk. It is of course very expensive, but between us all we have enough money to go ahead with the fitting for it and by the end of the summer holiday she should be able to go to school with more mobility. (There is no government help for these children, and they all go to main stream school). 
On Friday we had a raffle which raised 600 €, and I

was delighted to be able donate a further 300 € from the sale of my jams and pickles. Cati's daughter Maria presented me with a bouquet of flowers which was a nice surprise.

There are a lot of folk involved with this charity right now; Cati, the president of the Lions club, the choir, the local bar and the parents of the little girl, and I somehow find myself in the role of go-between/coordinator which is both a challenge and a privilege. It puts my Spanish to the test, but also pushes me to improve my conversation skills, and I am pleased to help build bridges between the Spanish and English sections of our community.
Our choir season is very short. We are doing six concerts in under three weeks, because  by the end of the month it will be too hot. Last night we were singing at a bar up in Albox, and it was very warm in there,  so afterwards it was nice to sit outside, chatting to friends, as the air grew cooler. For a long time I sat with my camera poised ready to catch this, and eventually I got the shots I wanted. 

There was a pair of sparrows who were regularly coming to feed their chicks - in a swallows nest! I was surprised, as swallows often return to their nest years after year. I suspect the sparrows may have turfed out the swallow's eggs to make room for their own. Piracy no less; but I enjoyed watching them all the same.

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