This has been a lovely week which I am going to whizz through mainly with photos, as I have my visitors waiting in the sitting room. I am smiling this week because I have had the company of these two lovely young people - our grandson Marcus and his girlfriend Beth. Both are at Aberystwyth University, and are glad to have a break before the end of year exams.
As you can see, they wasted no time in stripping off to enjoy the sunshine, determined to go home a shade or two darker than when they arrived. Most of our friends out here are retired folk like us, so it is good to have some younger company for a few days.
But before they arrived we had a happy meal out with our friends Keith and Sue. It was Keith's 75th birthday, and they invited a group of us to share a meal after church on Sunday. The food was good and the company even better. Keith is the gentleman on the left in a green shirt, sitting almost opposite to my Chris.
On Monday we were off to the airport to collect Marcus and Beth. They were landing at 8.00 in the evening and it made a huge difference having the clocks moved on. We arrived before it was quite dark, and on the journey home I took this photo of the setting sun.
They have been extremely lucky with the weather so far, especially as they have forecast another storm this weekend. It was due to reach our coast today, but although the clouds gathered and the temperature dropped, it has not rained yet. On their first day they just wanted to sit around in the sun, so apart from a brief walk around the village, that is what they did.
On Tuesday they asked us to take them to the Alcazaba in Almeria city. We took Marcus and his family when they visited several years ago and he remembered it and thought Beth would like it there to take some photos. She is studying film and has a super camera, so she wanted some scenes to do it justice. We have taken visitors there several times now and I love the old ruins, and the superb views from the top, out across Almeria city to the harbour and the sea.
Each taken in a different direction. In the third which is looking behind the Alcazaba, away from the sea, you can see the two high bridges that take the motorway over the gorges.
The Alcazaba itself is an ancient site, divided into three areas. The first two date from when the Moors ruled the area, and features geometric gardens, lovely archways and water features. The third part was added on when the Christians gained supremacy, and it is mainly a military base, with the old cannons and keyhole windows, and living space for the soldiers. It is in an increasingly unstable condition now, and several walkways and steps up to the turrets are now chained off. Last time I was there we could still walk up them. Here are a few photos of the older areas. I love the big heavy original doors to the arsenal, and the deep windows. I don't know how any soldier in armour managed to move around in them to fight the invaders off.
In one building there was an interesting display that showed all the films and TV series that have had sets filmed there.
The youngsters were very interested to see that it was used in Series six of Game of Thrones.
It is hard to see, but the top picture on the poster is this little oasis of peace in the Moorish sector.
Water features heavily in all Moorish buildings, and the gardens are filled with little fountains, and larger pools, and it runs along gullies down the centre of the paths and steps, so everywhere you go you can hear the sound of running water. It is very restful.
The long pool above had lots of fish in it, and it made me realise how much I miss my fish pond back in the UK. We sat by the pool to eat our lunch before walking back to the car. As we went down a step set of steps to the next road down we saw a beautiful bottle brush tree.
It was so tall and was in full bloom with huge brushes at the end of every branch.
Almeria city is built right on the coast and it is strange to walk from the shops straight onto the beach. When you fly into Almeria airport, the runway is parallel to the coast and you feel you are right there on the sand. We drove just out of the main city and stopped to enjoy an ice-cream on a beach bench before going home.
Yesterday was a shopping day - for food mainly, as the shops are now mostly closed until Monday, though I expect the bigger supermarkets will open for the morning tomorrow. Our visitors were keen to come with me and see how our shops compare with theirs', and it was getting late by the time we got home and packed it all away, so then we down to the seafront and had a lovely dinner at one of our favourite restaurants.
It was, of course, Maundy Thursday, which is a special day for the catholic church especially. We are only a little village but we still had a small parade following a mass at the village church. I heard the band on the street at around 11.00 in the evening so I went up to watch. There was a bigger turn-out than I remember from the last time I went. The statue of Mary (Virgen de la Carmen - the patron saint of our village) was carried out of the church and lifted high on its 'throne'.
They are immensely heavy and it is quite a skill to lift it and hold it level and steady at the same time. Then it was carried all around the village, followed by the band playing very solemn music, and then a second throne bearing a statue of Jesus. The people who follow closely with these thrones are called penitents, and sometimes they wear high conical hats and masks that cover their faces so they will not be distracted during their penance, and in theory will not be recognised. I did not see those this year, but it was still a very solemn procession.
I thought it would be nice for Marcus and Beth to see one of the bigger parades, and as I shall be attending my own church on Sunday, I took them to the Good Friday parade in Turre today. The parade is called the encounter, and it involves the three hemanidads of Turre (Jesus, El Virgen de Dolores [Our lady of sorrows], and Saint John), all meeting and greeting each other.
Each hermanidad has its own statue and ornate throne, and its own banner and colours. Jesus is purple and his throne has purple and red flowers on it.
Mary is white and black today, changing to white and pale blue on Easter Sunday.
John is white and green, with some yellow. Each throne is on bars and is carried by both men and women from the hermanidad. For the first time this year Jesus' group was led by some very young members who had their own little throne to carry. I have not seen that before.
They leave the church and process through the town. The people who carry the throne have to walk with a sort of swaying gait to keep it steady, and one man walks beside them to make sure they are all in time together. Each throne has a bell or knocker and when it is sounded, they stop and some legs are placed under the throne while the bearers stretch, drink water and shake out their shoulder muscles. It was very sunny this morning and some of them looked so hot in their long velvet robes.
In some towns I have been to, the Good Friday parade is a slow, reverent occasion, with many of the bearers walking the streets barefoot, or blind folded as a penance. But in Turre it is a more joyous occasion. When all the thrones have reached the main street they stop, and then the ones carrying Saint John, hold him lower and run at the others and stop face to face with Mary to greet her. Then they turn around and run back, and this is done several times to cheers of approval from the crowd. This running is specific to Turre and a few other places. I believe it is done in Granada too.
Later they run round the corner, up the street, round a very tight corner and up a hill, closely followed by Mary's group. At the end of this post I have put a link to a very short video of this that I took to give you an idea of the skill of the bearers and the noise and excitement of the crowd.
From up there they went around some back streets of the town and then came back round to where we were. This time all three statues 'greeted each other' while some individuals did some traditional singing. Then they did the running again, before processing back to the church.
And on that note I had better close for today before my visitors think I have deserted them.
Very Special Easter Blessings to all my blogland friends, including our two hostesses Annie of Friday Smiles, and Virginia at Rocking Your World, who I will now link up with. And HERE as promised is my video.