Hi folks. Today´s post is going to be very photo heavy so I will keep the chat to a minimum - or try to anyway. It always looks more than it is because I use an enlarged font for the benefit of some of my family who aren´t getting any younger!
So my Smile for today is a bit different from usual because it is a 30 second video of some inflated ´Sky Dancers´. Click here to watch it. This is the first time I have uploaded a video, let alone linking it to my blog, so I hope it works for you.These amazing creatures are part of the Three Kings Parade in Almeria City that we went to on Monday
night. It was a fantastic evening, and I just loved the way these waltzed around up in the night sky, with their changing colours, and long tails. I hope they made you smile too. I will link them up to Annie´s Friday Smiles later.
I´ve mentioned before that Epiphany is a more important celebration than Christmas in our part of Spain. Many children will recieve a small stocking from `Papa Noel´at Christmas, but their main present will come from the Kings on twelfth night. In most villages and towns the Kings will arrive on the evening of 5th January, and then the children have their gifts the next day. It is a fairly quiet affair in our village because we have a fiesta the next day, so this year we decided to meet up with some friends in Almeria City where the Kings arrive as part of a huge parade. It takes us about forty minutes to drive there and it was a tiresome journey because we had the setting sun in our eyes the whole way. I managed to get one photo which I will show at the end of this post.We found our friends in time for the start of the
parade, and the first entry was two live elephants! They were followed by three camels, and then some people inside big inflated balls who rolled down the road. None of my photos are very good because there was a huge crowd, and although we were on a slightly raised verandah outside a bar, it was still difficult to get a good view.
There were several film themed floats like Snow White, Peter Pan and of course, Frozen. The costumes, models and lights were very elaborate.One of my favourites were two huge white horses made from a fine fabric and inflated. Lots of fine net
was gathered up into frills for their manes.They were lit from inside, and somehow they were manipulated so that they danced and pranced down the road. They were a very clever concept.One effect that was very
impressive was when it started to snow! Not literally of course, but somehow the Christmas lights, strung at regular intervals across the road, started to puff out white stuff that fell just like snow. It was so unexpected and very pretty.
In between the other floats were the ones carrying the Three Kings. These were quite spectacular and they were covered in bright lights, red for one, blue for the next and then yellow for the third one.
Huge quantities of boiled sweets were thrown from all the floats, and although there was a vast crowd, every child seem to collect a carrier bag full of sweets by home time! Some even use upturned umbrellas to catch them in!
The parade ended with the ´caterpillars´from my video. They were huge on ground level. The front sections were at least a meter in diameter. Again they were made from fabric and were lit with colour -changing bulbs from within. They were controlled by men with long strings or wires. At first they travelled down the street behind the floats, but at the end there was a plaza, and when they got there they were allowed to float up to the top of the palm trees, where they could swoop and drift in a charming way.
We then, of course, had to track down the car and escape from all the revellers, and we were home by 10.00.
The next morning we went over to the little plaza in our village to watch the Kings come down from the Town Hall. (There is no political correctness here, and one king always has a ´blacked´face, and everyone expects it.). They were proceeded by a group of men dressed up as soldiers - the men here love to dress up - and they reinact the scene at King Herod´s Palace. It is exactly the same every year, but they practice well for it, and have a huge script to learn. But they all love to be a part of it.
After the play there is a mass up at the church, but there is also a medieval market down at the plaza which is one of my favourites. We were blessed with another glorious day for the fiesta, and it was really hot standing in the sun to watch the play. In a mad moment I decided to go to the ´scary`tent where I held a huge, and very heavy long-eared owl, and then a snake.
Isn´t it beautiful?
You probably are not sure how beautiful this one is,
but I think it is. I have to admit I don´t really like the colour of it, but its skin was smooth, and soft but firm at the same time. It was quite strong. I was a little put out because I wanted to hold the boa constrictor but the handler was adamant that it was too strong for me. I think I could have handled it. I have held one twice before, but he wasn´t going to let me, so I settled for this one. You can just see Flat Susan pinned to my jacket. She wasn´t too sure about being cuddled by a snake!There was of course, plenty of food at the fiesta. This
pan had some chicken wings frying in it the first time I passed it. The next time it looked like a stew, but when I took this photo, the man had just emptied several packets of rice into it, and before long it was a lovely paella.
Right next to it was this
amazing barbecue. With everything from sausages to ribs, chicken, black puddings and lomo slices. The smell was very tempting.
Every fiesta in this village also has a meal of some sort provided free for everyone who wants some. Sometimes at Christmas it is migas - made from flour, oil and water and flavoured with garlic and spicy sausages, but this year it was a giant tortilla. For anyone who is not familiar with a Spanish tortilla, it is like an omlette but about an inch or more thick, and solid with sliced potato and onion. It is usually about the size of a pie plate and is cut into segments for tapas. But this one was the size of a dining table and was double thickness.
I don´t know how they manage to cook it so perfectly with just a log fire underneath which is hard to adjust at the best of times. But cook it they do, and when it is ready they cut huge slabs and wedge them into even more huge baguettes. They hand these out to all comers. Even toddlers wander around munching on one. Chris and I share one, and even then we struggle to finish it, but it is very good.
After that we needed a drink so we went to the Morroccan tent and had some delicious sweet mint tea. It was good to sit down for a while, and just chat to friends, and relax in the sun. I chose some of their cakes to take home. They are very sweet, with lots of honey and peanut butter, but very tasty.
When I also bought a packet of his tea-leaves, the man serving looked around and then slipped two of the gilt-painted tea glasses into my bag as well.
And while still with the Kings, and on the subject of food, this is their version of a ´Christmas cake`. (A google image. Not my photo).It is called a roscón, and represents a crown. It is essentially bread and the jewels are glacé fruits. Hidden inside is a silver coin and the finder is promised a year of good luck.
The fruits are only in the shop around this time of year so I bought a pot of them. Here are mine. There is a whole pear, a plum and a peach, and some cherries. The green ones are probably melon but may be corgette, and the large one off the plate is a whole orange. I won´t cut this yet as there was a big slice in my mixed pot, but it is delicious and so much tastier than any candied peel I have ever bought in UK. I don´t make a roscón, but these will keep me going for fruit cakes etc all year.
Other happy moments: Well we went out for lunch last Saturday. It was Gallarte - my art and craft group in the village - enjoying a late Christmas/New Year meal together. We took our friends Tony and Eileen with us. We were quite a crowd and they put on a lovely meal for us. Here I am with friends Eileen and Cati. I promise we weren´t responsible for all those empty wine bottles ourselves!
The men were having a good time further up the table too. I think they had had rather more wine than us but they dumped their empties up our end.!
We took Flat Susan with us and she had a nibble at my entremeses.
She passed on the main course, but when it came to the rice pudding, she was very hands-on!
I think she´d been sipping the wine too so I kept an eye on her when she started building up the corks. But she was alright, and we didn´t have to resort to her first aid kit.
Of course, after Three Kings, it is time to take down the decorations. Flat Susan had one last cuddle up with Santa, and then my angel bear said she would look after her while I was busy. I think she was just making sure that she would be the last one to go into the box!
I had another little helper too. I always take the decorations off the tree and sort them onto some chairs before I wrap them up and Tango decided to make sure they didn´t roll off. How can he manage to look quite so cross when he is purring his head off!
I am grateful for the lovely sunshine we have had this week. It may be cold at night, but in the day time it has been lovely. I am a real traditionalist and I still do a Sunday roast every week, whatever the weather, and this Sunday we were able to sit in the garden to eat it. That is very good for early January.
A few weeks ago I shared a photo of a plant that has never flowered for me until this year. Well slowly it has been opening its buds, and it now has a beautiful cone of yellow flowers. The early bees love it too.
I was very relieved and happy when I got two little parcels in the post this week. They were small bits of craft materials that I had ordered, but I had had notice of their dispatch well before Christmas and was worried they had got lost on the way.
And my final ´grateful`for this week is that we have
now got a working fire in the sitting room. There is a nice looking gas fire set into the wall but this hasn´t worked since we moved in six years ago! So far we have managed with a mobile gas fire, or the reverse air-con, both of which are OK but they don´t warm the whole room properly. But this week we had a man in to look at the fire and after dismantling it, cleaning it thoroughly and moving a few bits around, he got it working, and it has worked ever since. It is still calor gas as there is no mains gas in the village, but any fumes go up the chimney, while a small fan blows the warmth into the room. It looks nice to see real flames again, and the room is so nice and cosy. We only light it for the evenings because we sit outside in the day time, or else we are busy in our respective office and craft room, but I shall go and get comfortable in there now, and I won´t be moving until bedtime.
Now I will finish with that one sunset photo that I took en route for Almeria. It is a bit blurred because I took it from inside the car while we were driving along the motorway. But I loved the way the sun reappeared from layers of clouds, just before it disappeared for ever.
Thank you for staying with me. I will be back to shorter posts after this week, as nothing much happens now until Easter. I will also try to visit more of you. Blogger decided I wasn´t following any blogs, so I missed some of you, though I did manage a bit of a catch-up last night. I hope you are all back on my list now! So I will just link up with Annie and with Virginia at Celtic House. Keep thinking positively, and feel free to share some of your happy moments with us.