This week I am smiling at my cat Tango! I showed a couple of weeks ago how he loved to curl up among my knitting projects that had rather taken over the dining table. Well I had to clear them away to take photos of all the knitted items for Africa that I was sending back to UK, but gradually the most relevant one crept back on the table, and Tango immediately made it his own. That look; he is daring me to take it away again. As if I would!
It has been a noisy but good-natured week in the village, with the annual fiesta continuing on until the early hours of Monday morning.
We went over to the plaza on Friday night because the local dancing school was putting on its usual display. I love to see all the little ones in their traditional costumes, learning to master the complicated steps and already using their hands so expressively
When the younger group had done their bit, the older class did some even more complicated routines. (I liked this shot of them taken by the town hall official photographer from behind the stage).
When they had finished dancing I had my usual fiesta treat of churros and thick sweet chocolate sauce to dip them in. Chris teases me for always having some, but he ate his share all the same.
For those who don't know, churros is a plain batter, piped through a nozzle into a coil, in a vat of very hot oil. It is then cut with scissors into shorter lengths and shaken generously with sugar. It needs to be eaten warm as it goes a bit tough as it cools down, but to make it special, you also need the cup of chocolate sauce!
We then both had our other fiesta treat of a large mojito, before wandering home to bed.
Saturday is the main day as it is the actual Saint's Day for Virgen del Carmen, the patron saint of our village. This is celebrated by a huge open air mass on the plaza, which we always go over to take part in. There is always a good turnout from the actual villagers as well as folk from the surrounding area. The current parish priest is a lovely man, and I like to listen to his talk and see how much of it I can understand. Most of the mass is sung by the priest and the village choir who were looking rather fine in their flamenco dresses.
They stand up on the stage, and an altar is set up in front of them. In this picture, Fran, who works as a liaison officer between the mayoress and the people of the village, is reading one of the lessons.
At the beginning of the mass, the people are invited to bring offerings of flowers to the Virgen del Carmen, whose statue is carried down from to the plaza from the church. Hundreds of flowers, from huge bouquets to single blooms, are brought by the people, even the tiny tots have a flower clutched in their hands, as do the elderly who need an arm to lean on as they wait in the line for their turn to reach the statue. When there is no more room for the flowers around the statue, the rest are arranged on a trestle next to her, and at the end of the mass, all the flowers are collected again and taken up to the church.
On Sunday we had a different sort of celebration because our dear friend Jean had her 89th birthday.
She was asked what she would like to do on her birthday and she said "Go to church, and then have dinner with all my friends, at my favourite restaurant on Mojacar Playa", so that is what she did.
She is wonderful for her age and still lives a full life. So after church we all drove down to the beach and as we had expected it was very busy down there as the holiday season is now in full swing. But eventually we all managed to get parked, and walked up to the restaurant. It was one we hadn't been to before, and I like trying out new places. This one did not disappoint. It was a very large space with lots of windows, so it was light and airy and there were lovely views out over the sea. The decor was modern and attractive, and most importantly, the food was excellent. They set up three tables in one area for us as we were a party of twenty-two and they could not manage one long table to take us all. But we all moved around and chatted to one another, and I think Jean really enjoyed being the centre of attention.
As Sunday was the last night of the fiesta, we went over to the plaza for a little while. There was a recital by the Los Gallardos and Bédar brass band, and a lady singer. They were very good and we enjoyed it.
We thought at first that they may have to cancel it. It had been a hot and humid day and in the evening there was a stormy feel to the air. Clouds were gathering and swooping down us like an avenging angel, and as a few drops of rain fell, there was a hasty rush to throw tarpaulins over all the electrical equipment.
But in the end it was a false alarm, and everything was uncovered again and the concert went ahead. There was a rather more low key fair ground that night, and the youngsters midnight discos did not open, but there was the usual band and singers on the main stage and for one more night they played through to the next morning. Monday saw fork lift trucks and industrial cleaners moving in, the lights were down, the fairground rides dismantled and stowed away on the lorries, and by nightfall they had trundled off to their next destination, and you would hardly know that anything had taken place.
Since then we have enjoyed some quieter days, and one of our "things to do" was to work in the garden, so on Tuesday we went off to a garden centre. We bought something that I have wanted for ages, a water feature. A few years ago we went to Cordoba for a few days, to see their patio fiesta, when every house has flowers dripping from the window ledges, verandas, and in pots up the walls. We were impressed how they made lovely gardens in even the tiniest courtyards, and nearly all of them had some sort of water feature in them, We decided then that we wanted something like that, but the dogs were still very young and tended to destroy all our efforts to grow anything. But now they are older, so we thought it was time to give it a go. We don't have a lot of space in the garden, just a small walkway all around the pool, so we don't sit out there very often, but we do spend most of our days out in the fly-free porch, so we decided to set up our little garden in there. And here is is!
We chose a feature that has several sections of moving water as well as some flat areas to take plants. I chose a big green fern to sit at the top. It gives a cool and restful feel to it. Then I added a potted ivy near the base, and another one that I sat on some bricks behind the waterfall so I could encourage it to grow through the gaps, and trail down the front. The plants on either side were taken from the garden, and so far the dogs have not touched them. I love the sound of the tumbling water when I sit out there, and I am really pleased with how it had worked out. There is actually a very bright light in the lowest basin, we we have on in the evening.
While we were at the garden centre, we also chose a very big stone pot. We asked if they would deliver both items and while we waited the man called up one of his workers to load them onto a small truck, and he followed us home and unloaded them for us. The service can be really excellent here.
We wanted the pot for a big fern in our front garden. We inherited it with the house, and it was in a fairly small, heavy-duty plastic pot. We hadn't realised how much it has grown, but for the last two years it has constantly fallen over during times of high winds, and it is now too heavy for us to keep righting it. It was also getting spoiled because it was crushed against the fence each time it fell. We would have liked to plant it in the ground, but we have no-where suitable, so we thought the best idea would be to re-pot it into a square, stone pot that hopefully won't blow over. It was difficult to do, as the big palms have vicious thorns on the underside of their fronds, but we tied it up and wrapped a cloth around it, and eventually managed to get it into its new home. It already looks much better, and when it has settled down and its leaves have dropped it will be fine, at least for the next few years.
Our Spanish neighbours are in residence on both sides of us this week, which has never happened before, and they both hung over the veranda to watch us and nod approvingly at what we were doing. The man from the Farmacia also walked up the road and stopped to talk about it. He said all the plants were lovely, but the palm is special. We looked at them in the garden centre a few years ago, and even then to buy one like it would have cost 100€, so we really should take good care of it. Hopefully it will now thrive.
The round pot to the right of the picture is the home of the other palm that I showed several times, earlier this year , when it suddenly produced a flower. I was excited to see it and read on the internet that it can take forty years to have its first flower. But it turned out to be a disappointingly insignificant flower, and I had no idea what would happen next. I was worried that it might just die, but so far it has just sat there doing nothing more, just looking a bit droopy and sad. So while I was out there working I decided to cut the tall, dead flower stem off, and when I did I was so surprised to find a new shoot coming from just below it. It must have been growing for a while and I had not seen it, hidden among the leaves. So it is not dying, and I now have something else to watch
It is sticking out at an odd angle right now, but I expect it will straighten up as it grows.
Today I had another bonus when Chris said we would go down to the Playa for lunch. Anything that means I don't have to cook in the heat is a bonus. We went to the commercial centre in Mojacar and just ordered drinks to start with, and when she came out with them, she also gave us a plate of crisps, some sweet dough balls, a dish of corn nuts, and some potatoes in garlic mayonnaise with bread! That's before we ordered dinner.
I then had a huge bagette with Serrano ham, brie, mushrooms, lettuce and tomato in it, and a pile of chips on the side, and Chris had fish cooked on the plancha and chips of course. I didn't manage all of mine but I had a good try!
And that is about it for this week. We have had quite a few cloudy days, which make it more humid than I care for, so the afternoons have been spent indoors, often dozing, though I have read a good book as well. But we sit out in the evenings and when I got in the pool one night at half passed midnight, the thermometer on the wall still showed 30º, and the water was 27º - lovely!!
It has been stormy in the evenings so there are no bright sunsets to show you, but one evening the sky was filled with little fluffy clouds, and they were so pretty, so I will leave you with a picture of them. And then I will link up with Annie's Friday Smiles, and Rocking Your World, and I'll see you all next week.