This is the time of year when you have to set off sooner than usual to reach your destination on time -because the roads are suddenly no longer traffic-free and a pleasure to drive on. This is the time when a tractor will inevitably pull out in front of you and trundle along the narrow lanes at around 30kms per hour - swaying erratically from side to side to make overtaking impossible.
It doesn't feel like a build up to Christmas such as I have been used to in the UK. I admit we've had freezing cold starts to the days but for the past month, we've had unbelievably blue skies and warm sunshine from 10 o'clock in the morning to just before 6 in the evening. And until this week, not a glimpse of pre-Christmas festivities - not tinsel, not lights, nothing.
However, on Saturday, at the local English shop, that I have mentioned before - A LITTLE bit of BRITAIN - we had our Christmas Market and jolly good fun it was too. (Huddersfield was well represented, I'm glad to say - more of which in a mo!)
I went with my chocolates and all three of my children volunteered to come with me. I think this could have been due to the large crockpot of Belgian Hot Chocolate that I took with me. And thanks to Ruy, who balanced it on his knees all the way there - up and down the hills and round the corners, without spilling a drop, we arrived just in time to set up and be ready before the 'hoards' descended. Actually, it was a slow start this month. Usually, the Spanish are the early birds and as most of them were out collecting olives, there was a distinct lack of genuine local footfall to start with.
In amongst the second hand goods that adorn one part of the shop, we had our stalls, stamped our feet to keep warm and found the morning passed by rather cheerfully.
|A small but select offering of chocolates and cards...and a tray of samples that seemed to go down quite well!|
|The hot chocolate was very good indeed - as the sign says, it had milk and dark chocolate, melted in semi skimmed milk - and with only a slight dash of salt to bring out the flavour - it was absolutely delicious!|
Next to me was Katrina, who now runs her own successful and growing cake making business, Golosaria.
|Katrina puts such incredible detail into her cakes...they're fantastic and I've watched her confidence and skills grow incredibly this year as her business has taken off and her (mainly Spanish) customers request more and more outlandish cakes! (One she recently made featured a builder in a g-string... check him out!)|
|Katrina said that my recent Zentangle inspired her 'bauble' cupcake design!|
|I was completely convinced this was a real cake but it's just a dummy! Inside, it's full of rice crispies!|
This is Kyle in his grotto, but minus his beard and hat. He's Alan's son (who runs the shop) and is always on hand to help out with the local Spaniards who love to haggle over prices. Alan's Spanish is pretty basic but Kyle is absolutely fluent - and pretty good salesman to boot, so since he's been working here, it seems to have made a difference to the amount of stock that is constantly turning over! It's like 'Aladdin's Cave' and we've made several purchases for our home from here.
It's also where I have my Wednesday Spanish conversation class - which has been running for two and a half years now - and where our Zentangle classes will continue. The first one, which we had a couple of weeks ago went down really well and everyone agreed they'd like to continue. So this is a place I'm rather fond of, despite its 'garage sale' look. Both Alan and Kyle are unfailingly cheerful and helpful and spend a lot of time rearranging the 'furniture' to accommodate all the things that go on here.
Cheers to you both and all the family!
And at the end of the morning, I felt we'd done pretty well. I have some chocolates left but they will go into the shop between now and Christmas. I have a couple of orders to fulfil and may well join Katrina at the Montefrio Christmas Market which is on 21st December - last year, they had a Medieval theme and a 'living' Belen, which I blogged about at the time. But I feel now that the busy time of chocolate making has passed by for a few months. I might even dig out our Christmas trimmings this week.
How are your Christmas preparations going and what is happening in your local area at this time of year?