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Archive for April, 2009

It’s Sunday, and today, we’re going for lunch with my lovely and mad friend Claire who knows more about what’s going on on the UK soap scene than a UK Soap Scene Addict …

She and Peter her husband have loads of painting to do, and their daughter Mikaela, aka “Feral Beryl”, has already threatened to be very bored this weekend if Mum and Dad are painting the whole time. So, as you do, I offered to go over with Zack where we could cook Sunday Lunch (the children and I) leaving the parents to paint.

So, being as Zack and I went to the coast yesterday with the lovely Bat Masters for a stunningly fabulous Sushi Lunch post a visit to Decathlon where Zack bought his “big boy’s bike”, I have a plan.

I’m not going to drive the 10 minutes down the vertical hill and around the windy mountain road to get to their house – NO! We’re going to go on our bikes! And this is where the raw chicken and philadelphia comes in – you see Claire tells me she has one chicken, but she’s not a caterer for small numbers, so we need two. And I have said second chicken in my fridge which I happen to like stuffing under the skin with philadelphia mixed with herbs and lime juice.

So my rucksack today is going to have not just drinking water, but a raw chicken, a pot of philadelphia and some herbs.

Dear GOD let’s hope we’re not knocked down by an olive truck – can you imagine what they’d think if they found a mangled chicken in my rucksack? My posthumous credibility here would go RIGHT down the pan …. !!

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It’s the 21st April today … the day before my beautiful son turns NINE my goodness – how on earth did that happen?

I was up at 6.30am preparing breakfast for a lovely guest’s final morning before he left for Málaga airport. The sky was still dark blue, the waning crescent moon just peeping over the Easterly mountains with some brightly shining stars …

And the colours between the deepest blue and the mountain were starting to blush ….

And now, having hugged our new cousin goodbye – he leaves as a member of the family as does everyone here – I have had a moment on the huge roof terrace gazing out over my olive groves.

The light is white. The valleys between the mounds are clutching onto whispy tales of the whitest clouds that hang between the peaks …

It’s a truly magical day in La Celada again 🙂

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This year, the wild cavortings in the campo are scheduled over the weekend after next – 25th April – the official “Dia de San Marcos”.

It’s a day when the Spanish pack an entire kitchen up into an old and battered car, along with long tressle tables, chairs, table cloths, barbeques, recliners, ghetto blasters and all manner of games, and retire to anywhere that constitutes the “middle of nowhere”.

In our village, that means all around our lovely Lake Iznájar.

The pine trees create shade, and the Beach Bar overflows for a 24 hour period as the “with children” revellers party all day, and the “without children” revellers party all night.

It’s messy, nutty, potty and crazy … and all the things I love about Spain in between!

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Last Friday was Good Friday – known as Viernes Santo here or Holy Friday.

I was up early with my son and went to Rute, one of our two closest villages, where I had been invited to witness the Viernes Santo Procession with my greatest Spanish friend Mari Trini.

Even today, three days later, I’m struggling to find words to express just how deeply moved I was by the extraordinary experiences that unfolded in front of me … but I am going to try…….

I want you to first of all imagine yourself to be in a very remote place. A place where the people are simple, devout, loving and hard working. Where they take little time off for themselves or each other, and where everyone looks out for everyone else, as there is nothing else.

And in such a place, the streets have been swept, balconies have been decorated with the most beautiful deep purple fabric hangings, and the entire population have taken to the streets in their best clothes.

And there, in front of them, is the most enormous statue of Christ. Enrobed in an exquisite purple gown, stitched with golden filigree around the hem, his head turned and bent to the left, his face searing with pain. A crown of thorns so perfectly created that you can almost feel the excruciating pain of the needles digging into his flesh.

And on his right shoulder, he drags a huge, silver cross.

This exquisite statue rests on a vast plinth with a base of four metres by seven. Beneath the base are five huge wooden railway sleepers on which the Christ statue stands, surrounded by flowers. And sixty young men are carrying this extraordinary weight upon their right shoulders.

The band beats a rhythm. Slow, inexorable and mournful. The Christ is carried down from the Church where He lives most of the year in peace on this enormous day in His life.

Behind the Christ, separated by another band and many mourners, comes the distraught Mother, following behind helpless to impact upon the future of her only Son.

Her face is wracked with sorrow, harrowed lines and tears seep from her eyes.

Enrobed and surrounded by flowers, the Virgin Mary is likewise held aloft by some fifty young men, walking to the inexorable beat of the drums.

From time to time, the music stops and the Procession rests. The young men are allowed to lay down their indescribable load for a few moments as singers reach out from the balconies singing songs of love and anguish, devotion and implorings of forgiveness to Christ.

And then again they don the Weight of Millenia, and begin to climb The Hill.

Up and Up these men carry Christ, who carries his Cross. The Hill becomes steeper and steeper, the faces of the men are twisted in pain as the weight of the plinth cuts into their flesh. The people now begin to walk backwards in front of the slowly ascending Procession, watching the agony of the bearers.

And at the moment when you think they will scream out in pain, they silently raise the Christ up on extended arms, giving their final ounces of strength to the Man who suffered climbing a Hill carrying a Weight and then being nailed to that weight and left to die.

All around me, men and women are sobbing. Tears are pouring down my face too as I watch this extraordinary sacrifice that in truth is nothing compared with the sacrifice they keep alive every year in this tradition.

I am absolutely and completely humbled.

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