At the beginning of the month, I realised I was coming up to the first of my 'Annieversaries' - my Wednesday morning Spanish Conversation class. I hold this with a group of English people who are keen to improve their Spanish, but who simply couldn't cope with the grammar-driven method often used by Spaniards to teach their language. Many had tried lots of different classes and given up - only to give another one a go a few months later and give up again. Most have some basic level of Spanish and many have a very wide vocabulary but lack confidence in putting it all together.
In my class - which is confessedly NOT a teaching class - I aim to help people with specific conversation requirements...things they can use with neighbours, at the market, in the bar, at a restaurant - and they have the chance to practice without embarrassment. It's not a large group - probably seven or so at the most and although I have had some 'drop-outs' for various reasons, including financial, health and returning to the UK, I am delighted to say that many of my class have stuck with me for quite some time - and Tony has missed only ONE class in all the three years we've been meeting!! Time to celebrate, I felt. So last Wednesday morning, I took in some splendid little cakes and biscuits and some fresh orange juice and bottle of Cava...and we celebrated in style (well, in plastic cups, but hey, it was lovely!)
I do hope we can continue this class - where our conversation wanders from the roots of English, to places to visit, to how to say 'I'm dying to go the loo', to condolences and good wishes - for another three years!
Thank you all for making Wednesday mornings such a pleasure and for remember at least some of the new words and phrases I try to teach you! You know who you are!!
Another little 'Annieversary' was actually an FR and Annie anniversary. On the 10 March - also the day of a good friend's birthday, which could be part of the reason why I remember it so well - we met! It was at a band reheasal in Bradford. FR had recently moved to Leeds and was studying at the Leeds College of Music. He met a flute player there who brought him along to the reheasal. I remember it as though it were yesterday. He was sitting in a big overcoat, looking half-frozen and studying his music, counting to himself (in English, I noted) even though he was clearly NOT English. I thought he was Italian. And I couldn't keep my eyes off him...though, unfortunately for me, he was directly in front of a trombone player, who thought I was looking at him and who was returning my 'interest' - that took a little sorting out later!
At the break in the rehearsal, I went to speak to the interesting-looking stranger - and I wasn't the only one! I was really surprised to discover he was Spanish as I didn't think the Spanish travelled much to the north of England...and they don't usually. I remembered that I had done a Spanish 'O' level whilst in the Sixth Form but sadly, could only remember two words, neither which were great conversation starters. (One was mantequilla, which is butter and the other was zapatos, which means shoes...) However, FR was keen to speak English and at the end of the rehearsal, a friend and I 'kidnapped' him and took him back to my flat where we spent an hilarious evening listening to FR's stories and thoughts in his enthusiastic and ambitious but still flawed English! I particularly remember him graphically describing how Beethoven's 9th Symphony made him think of Beethoven riding on a chariot pulled by six black whores....It was a powerful image and as I asked him why black whores, I realised he actually meant 'horsES'. Plurals can be tricky!
17 days later, he moved into my flat and we have been together now for 18 years. Feels like longer sometimes, but when I think of that very first day, I always laugh!
And as we move into the middle of March, one year ago, we got the keys to Casa Rosales! It wasn't officially ours and we didn't move in until the end of March but it was this time a year ago, that FR and I came over with our car loaded up with pictures, a bookcase and a sofa and began to establish ourselves here in our home. I love Annieversaries when they're so full of joy and happiness.
The only cloud on the horizon - the only Annieversary that I won't really celebrate this month - is that it marks the return of our lovely friends, the Greers, to the UK - to David's native Scotland. We saw the New Year in with them, they helped us move here, they are there when we've needed them and I shall miss them dreadfully. Work here is sporadic and unreliable and when you still have mortgages to pay, it can make every day more difficult than it should be. Despite giving it their very, very best shot - and Sam has certainly done that - they are leaving Alcala la Real and their beautiful home here (with the best view in town) to take up 'proper' jobs again. I can't begin to imagine quite how much I shall miss them and Sam in particular. To find a really good friend is always special but to find one in one's chosen spot is really good fortune...I wish them all the luck in the world - we all do.
Pippin has spent a month with us and is now about 11 weeks old - during which time he has doubled in size and weight....
|Pippin after two weeks...|
|Pippin this morning...|
We're able to take him out on walks now as he's had all his injections. This morning was glorious and I took the camera with me to capture the beginnings of Spring in Villalobos.
And I discovered that Pippin would like to go swimming...he was straight in the stream! He's proving a very headstrong pup and is taking up a lot of my energy and time! He is wonderful at 'Sit' - but pretty rubbish at everything else, preferring to run away than to come here; to force his way back inside when I say 'out'; and to chew every plant pot and plant he can find when he IS outside and to bite all the children's feet and trousers and anything else that he can get his teeth into....I'm working on him. This time next year - when it's Annieversary time again - he'll be a credit to me. (Oh, I DO hope so!)
Any special events for you this month?