Here we go, rocking again as we look at what has made us smile and be grateful for this week. So first up is good old Santa Claus.
This is actually our second son, dressing up to be Santa on the float that goes round his village in Shropshire. He looked the part, and I gather he was very popular. His 'elf helpers' knock on doors to collect money for the Severn Hospice, where my son is a Fund-Raising Advisor. Mike was so good at it that he was able to hug his two Grandsons standing by their Uncle's house, without them knowing. But he sort of gave the game away when he called out as he moved on "See you boys" and 6 year old Isaac said "That's my Grandad's voice"!
Members of the Round Table used to send a similar float around our town (just a few miles from the village where Mike lives), and my younger sons used to love going outside to watch it pass. Even my mum who was approaching 90 in her last year, would always wrap up in layers of clothes and walk to the end of the drive to see it. Lovely traditions that keep the magic of Christmas alive.
As I wrote my post last week, we were just home from seeing our son and his partner on to their bus at the end of their visit, and the next day we drove to Murcia airport to collect our grandson who is here with us until 30th. On his first evening we all went over to the plaza for a village Christmas market. We held the first village market back in the spring, and it was deemed successful enough to try again. Any businesses operating within the village were able to have a stall. As a precaution a second big marque was set up on the car-park alongside the one that is always erected for Three Kings Fiesta, and all the stalls were arranged in there. It had been running all day, but we had been too busy to get to it. But when we went over around 6.00 there was still a good crowd there.
It all looked very festive with lots of trees and lights, and red poinsettias making a show of colour.
We went to watch a choir competition of Villancicos or carol singing, so in the photo above, the trading had almost stopped, and everyone is looking towards the stage, waiting for the singing to begin. I love to hear Spanish carols and Christmas songs. They sing with great gusto and are always accompanied by lots of hand clapping and instruments such as guitar, castanets and sound box. I don't think I have ever heard a slow or quiet villancicos! The choirs came from Vera, Bédar, Pulpi, Huercal-Overa, Turre, and our own Los Gallardos, and each dressed up for the occasion, and looked lovely. Here are the choirs from Pulpi (I think) and Huercal-Overa.
And here is our village Choir. They nearly always wear spotty print dresses, though not always in this colour.
We didn't stay right to the end as were beginning to feel cold, so we didn't learn which choir won the competition, but we went round to visit our local bar which has just opened after a two weeks closure for a complete make-over. It has all been painted white and light grey, and looks really light and welcoming.
As you drive around here, you often pass a sign warning that there might be deer crossing the road. I always thought this was a bit strange as I have never seen wild deer anywhere around, but this week, a friend, who lives in El Pinar, the first little white village up the hill behind us, posted this photo that she took from her garden.
These are Ibex, and they are a protected species. They look very cute but they do a lot of damage when there is insufficient scrub to graze on, on the campo, because they break through fences into the village gardens, and can strip them clean in one night. They ate all my friend's fruit and the leaves from her orange trees. Last year, the villagers got so fed up with them that they clubbed together to buy bales of hay that they put out on the roads for them, in the hope their gardens would be left alone. I'd love to see them in the green zone at the back of us, but I don't want my garden invaded, so maybe they are better staying where they are, up the hill a bit!
This has been a funny week, with my preparations all done almost a week early, and most of the special Christmas concerts etc, already behind us. But that does mean I have been able to spend time chatting to my grandson and catching up on his, and the family's news, also making good progress with my knitting, and reading more than I have managed for a long time. So I am feeling pretty relaxed as the big day approaches. But I haven't been altogether idle. When I was at the market last week I saw some lovely fresh root ginger and it reminded me that I have had several requests for more of my Hot chili and ginger jam. So on Monday morning I set to and made some. Quite a lot of it has already been sold.
Also, when we were sitting in the bus station with our son, waiting for their bus to arrive, I noticed there were a lot of fruit blown down from the ornamental orange trees planted along the side of the site. I know that most of the orange trees planted as street decorations, carry bitter oranges, probably to stop people picking them, so I collected up some of the best wind falls, and when I got home I cut one open, and sure enough it was bitter. So on Tuesday I made a big pan of marmalade. It is the first time I have had suitable oranges before Christmas, and I had the time to use them. I had run out of last season's marmalade (another first for me), so I am happy to have refilled my cupboard, though quite a bit of that has sold too. And there will, of course, be lots more oranges in January, so I will be making more. Here is this week's 'makes', though this was taken after I had sold several jars at my Wednesday sewing group.
Now here we are at Friday again already. My grandson wanted to walk around Garrucha market so we went down this morning. It was another beautiful day and we got quite warm wandering around in the sun. We weren't looking to buy anything, but it was nice to be among the chattering crowd, all hunting for last little stocking fillers, and fruit and vegetables for their festive meals.
It is always hard to find a parking space in Garrucha on market day, but I headed straight for the port, and we struck lucky and found a spot quite close to the market. As we walked to some steps leading up to the main road, we passed the row of small huts that belong to the fishermen, and I noticed this old man mending his nets.
I thought it was such a timeless photo. He has probably sat doing this for most of his life, and his father before him. I am not sure there are too many sons wanting to take on this rather precarious way of making a living though, which is sad.
We took our few purchases back to the car and walked down onto the beach as Mikey wanted to get a closer look at the statue that stands at the edge of the sea, where the fishing boats come in to off-load their catch at the auction rooms. This auction used to be really fun to watch, as buyers bid for fish to take away and sell at the big hotels along the coast and in the cities, but it is mostly automated now, so not such fun for spectators. I think the statue is Virgen del Carmen del Mar, (the inscription had mostly washed away), and she is the Patron Saint of Garrucha and of Fishermen. It is one of the nicer statues, and she has a very tranquil face as she stands gazing out to sea.
As it was last week, the beach was almost deserted, though there were plenty of folk walking along the promenade. It is a long, flat, well paved walkway, secured by local white marble balustrades which the town is very proud of, and it is ideal for anyone wanting a sunny stroll.
I have just one pretty sky picture to end with. It is no different from many I have shown, but it is beautiful enough to be included.