Casa Rosales

Casa Rosales

Tuesday 28 June 2011

From Andalucia to South America...

Well, Avenida Andalucia to Calle Bolivia, that is. We're on the move this week.
Cesar has already brought a big van full of our things, including our very own beds - hurray - from Leon. And apart from realising that our house in England was more spacious than we gave it credit for, we've managed to pucker most of our stuff into this newly rented house in a quieter area of town. It feels cooler too - fewer cars passing by and up a slight hill. It's not perfect but we think it will be better.

And we're in an area named for the countries of Central and South America ....

 ....more or less! Because tucked in amongst all these streets (and I didn't photograph Mexico, Cuba or Paraguay) I found this one....

I'm pretty sure this is just a geographical mistake. Heavens, they don't even speak Spanish in Canada!
But it amuses me.
Maybe it's because it looks like a Spanish word - lots of words end in 'ada'... maybe.

I'd love to hear why you think it's included.

Monday 27 June 2011

38 Degrees

I love sunny days.
I like the feel of sunshine on my skin. I like warm summer days.

Today has been sunny; lots of sunshine - but I have hugged shadows as I walked out briefly this morning to buy bread. The canopy and the persianas have been well and truly pulled down. The recently purchased fan has been whirring all day.

And the hardest, the most difficult thing for me to do, after years of living the summer in England - having the windows firmly closed against the sun's searching rays.

At home, when the temperatures rose, all that was needed was to open doors and windows and let a little air current cool things down inside - freshen the hot and heavy indoors air by stirring it up a little. Here - absolutely to the contrary to all the fibres of my upbringing - we have to keep the windows closed as the air outside is much hotter than the air inside. 38 degrees hot to be precise.

It pains me - I have an inner struggle everytime I pass a window. I want to throw them open and cool things down but it doesn't work like that here. I know it's the same for other ex-pats out here - we've discussed the overwhelming temptation to keep doors open - only they can't resist. They open their doors and windows and set local tongues wagging, heads shaking and create much tutting and sighing amongst concerned neighbours.

Cesar keeps me on the straight and narrow.
And our house stays relatively cool.

The nacimiento
This evening, at around 8pm, after staying in most of the day - out of the heat and away from a viciously hot sun - we decided to visit the 'nacimiento' (source) of the river San Juan, which is just outside Castillo de Locubin, of the cherry festival fame. We'd heard it was a nice place though not developed much for visitors but when we arrived, although many people were leaving, it was still busy and full of families who'd clearly been there most of the day.

Pools of chilly, crystalline water

The place was stunning; large pools of the clearest, coldest water, bubbling up directly from the mountain source behind it. Lots of trees for shade and places to just sit and 'chill' - it wasn't exactly chilly but once I'd dipped my feet for a few seconds, the 'coolth' began to spread up my body - I could feel the effect of cooled blood. And a few seconds longer and the extreme coldness of the water began to bite, really bite!

Not that this prevented both Romy and Ruy (told you they were brave!) who both went in without much hesitation and eventually came out quite pink with cold.

I tell you - it was really, really cold!

Ruy's first tentative entry - we eventually had to insist he got out!

Super cool

As the night started to fall, bats began swooping low over the water and most folk packed up and went home, apart from the group of friends playing guitar and an old couple who were filling up bottle after bottle of water - it tastes delicious, they told us - and they were taking it as it came into the pools, not where we'd been dunking our feet, so perhaps it was.

After rubbing a bit of warmth back into the younger ones and persuading them not to go back in again - that we would come back another day, we ate paraguayos - which is a flat peach-like fruit that's unique to the Spanish mainland, Andalucia in particular - and the kids played 'pooh sticks' and climbed the trees.

Watching and waiting.

Then we had to wait a bit longer for Ruy's shoe to float across the pool towards us after Romy had knocked it in by accident at the other side. It took quite a while but it eventually it drifted near enough for us to pull it out and make our way home.

By which time, the temperature here in Alcala had dropped to a manageable 28 degrees and with this, a cooler breeze.

And we could open all the windows - and with an effect that was worth waiting til 10.30 in the evening for - that pleasant 'fresh air' feeling.

Saturday 25 June 2011

Happy Birthday to Me

This Saturday is the first birthday celebration of three in a row in our family, just a week between each one.
Today it's mine.

Next Saturday is Cesar's birthday.
The Saturday after is Mateo's.

I made my cake at 9am this morning, before it got too hot to bear having the oven on.
A simple Victoria Sponge. With long candles, not lots - certainly not as many as there could have been!

It was very tasty.

And today, my mum called me on SKYPE to wish me Happy Birthday.

This is a first as up until now, she's been a determined technophobe. She also sent me an email yesterday.

And then my sister called me.
Which was lovely but not as much of a surprise as we chat for hours over the net. Thank goodness for the net!

And now it's back to the packing up before our next big move....more of which very soon.  The screws, nuts and bolts that will put Romy and Ruy's beds back together again are missing. Not lost, just not found.

Ho hum.


Sunday 19 June 2011

Castillo de Locubin - Festival of Cherries

Famous for its Cherry Festival, which is held during the first week or so of June every year, Castillo de Locubin is around a 15 minute drive from Alcala la Real and is a village, quite a large one.

I have only been once, which was earlier this week, to see a friend who lives there. She's English and she wrote and told me to meet her in the square by the mosaic fountain. She obviously assumed this was the best place and one that would be easily found. She should have been right.

Castillo is a maze of steep, narrow streets and has no real centre to it. It also has at least three entrances from the main road and somehow, I managed to miss seeing the square as I entered the village. I wasn't concerned as I knew I could ask - which I did - for directions to the main square, or la plaza mayor. And I followed instructions and buried the Volvo deeper and deeper into the labyrinth of ever-narrowing streets, only just avoiding burying the front end into house walls, pedestrians and parked cars. And eventually I reached la plaza mayor - with the sinking realisation that this was not the place.

After a long chat with an old man, practically interrogating on where there might be another plaza with a mosaic fountain to no avail, I decided to go to find my friend's house - I hadn't been before but I remember her telling me the name of the street and as it's up for sale, I also have seen photos of the outside - perhaps she'd given up on me and gone home by now. Of course it would have been helpful to have had a phone but I didn't - I don't have a Spanish mobile (yet!) I saw the house and decided to park up nearby and walk around til I found her or found the 'square' that she meant.

For about half an hour, I trudged up and down the streets of Castillo, asking occasionally for a square with a fountain and being directed several times back to la plaza mayor. I decided to ask for a phone booth, conscious by now that my friend would have called Cesar and he would assume that I had 'crashed the car again' - and was directed to the park, right at the bottom of the village. And you've guessed it, as I rounded a corner, there in front of me was a big square with a mosaic fountain to one side - and my friend coming towards me.

All this is a pre-amble, but I feel better for it. I have quite good navigational skills and living with Cesar, I need them, though he still never entirely trusts me and wastes lots of time asking other people. My only consolation is that he doesn't listen to them either and will quite often drive off and do the opposite of what they've said. He can't help it, it's something innate in him.
(This is possibly quite a hormonal-driven piece of writing - life's like that sometimes.)

Where was I - oh yes, more justification required for me being lost in Castillo for 40 minutes - it was the use of the English word 'square' that did it - should have been 'park'. To the people of Castillo, a big square park in the most central position in the village, with a mosaic fountain, still could not be described as la plaza mayor - not even to a lost English woman, and who instead sent her to a small, insignificant place at the top of a hill that did even look like a main 'square'. It wasn't even square, it was round!

I'll stop.

And move on to my second visit to the village, which was last night for the Cherry Festival. Which was a cheerful, festive event just as it should have been - with lots of cherries, cherry goodies, gazpacho with cherries (delicious) and a big cherry cake that was shared out for all to grab at.
(And we found a parking space a (cherry) stone's throw from the 'main square' as I now know all the streets in the village!)

Stalls and stalls selling crates of cherries - this display is of the prize winners - makes my mouth water all over again.

Competition entries for cherry recipes - there were several that we thought we'd rather like to try - but these were display only!

The giant cake that was shared out - another story in itself - at 11.30pm. We still have a lot to learn about queueing and the sharp elbows of the older people of Castillo... let's leave it at that!

There were lots of stalls selling the usual collection of toys, balloons, plastic dolls and yapping dogs - at ridiculous prices, really stupidly inflated and outrageous - and both Cesar and I were really annoyed to find out that one of the stall holders had been rude to Ruy, who was looking at the things whilst we were sitting down by the fountain - had actually told him to go away!! And as I'm having a warts and all sort of post here, I'm including my extreme distaste for people who have stalls full of things designed to make children want them - and then wave those children away whose parents are not near enough to hear their requests to buy. Ruy was a waste of space to them and made to feel so - not on in my book.

But onward, ever onward!

Romy did not go without her cake!

And we all sampled lots of cherries - which were delicious.

And the party went on..

 And on...

For some!
Cesar swears he wanted to go dancing with me but by midnight, we had two exhausted children (those who'd been dancing the night before) and one who would rather not dance but be reading a book) - all asking to go home. So we left Castillo with its annual cherry party still in full flow - until next year.

P.S There's an edge to my writing here - or at least to me, as I am writing - and one of my labels is 'hormones' and just at this moment, whether you need to know or not, I am swamped by the little beasts and struggling to stay good tempered and patient. Writing about it and being honest helps.
I will now go and read the blogger whose blog goes by the name of 'Menopausal Musings'! Just so you know.

Saturday 18 June 2011

Dia de los Padres

Parent's evening at our children's school was a bit different from that in England. It wasn't a quiet chat about the progress and attitude of our children. It was a celebration for everyone with dancing and fun.

It started at about 8pm and went on for more than 2 hours - and meant that we didn't get to the Cherry Festival in Castillo de Locubin yesterday; we'll just have to go this evening instead - and was a wonderful, colourful, happy event and I got some lovely pictures.

Romy's class were 'El Fantasma Comeletras' - the ghost that eats letters, which I think is based on a song but I can't find any reference to it anywhere - and they did lots of ghoulish dancing.

I think Romy enjoyed it very much!

She's on the left with her hair swinging along.

Here she's followed by her friend at school and the one who invited her to join karate - Ismael.

And Ruy's year - there are three classes - were dancing the Cha Cha Cha and had a great time!

I like these photos because there are several of my English students here as well. Like Clara, the happy girl at the end of the line on the left of the photo.

And watching on, there's Pablo, looking like a little Roman cherub (ha!), and to the right, Paula and Maria - excellent students.

A colourful display. Lots of proud parents and grandparents watching on.

Cha cha cha!

And then there was the bouncy castle slide and five-a-side 'table' football games to play.

 It was a lovely parent's day.

The moon, the moon

I am a creature ruled by the moon, or so my mother always said. And like many others, I love moon-watching.
So the latest eclipse was a must - and how lucky we were to have a wonderful, clear view.

No tripod though, so just a bit of a shake visible.


Very satisfying. I only howled a little.

Wednesday 15 June 2011

Our busy little town

Ghost Viking Ship - no crew

Alcalá la Real is a busy, bustling little town. The streets are rarely empty, apart from the all important siesta 'hour' between 3 and 5 every day. Mornings see children and parents making their ways to school, older folks taking a morning constitutional and buying their bread en route, shopkeepers sweeping the streets outside their shops and preparing to open up for the morning.

It's nice to feel we are amongst the local folk as we too walk the ten minutes or so Ruy and Romy's school - Mateo sets off half an hour earlier - and I become one of the bread buyers on the return journey (OK, it's not just the oldies that buy bread in the mornings.) And I enjoy that little end bit as I cross the road and reach our apartment.

When we first arrived, the mornings were one long drone of traffic as the trucks, land rovers, jeeps and old vans set off to go and collect the olives, whilst the day was still dark. Now there is still a lot of traffic in the town - who knows who going who knows where. I do know that I could quite happily take pot-shots at the noisy, rasping motorbikes that whizz backwards and forwards incessantly from about 10pm until the early hours. But so far, in six months, I have only once heard the squeal of brakes and there are more zebra crossings within eyeshot of our apartment than I saw in the whole of many places in England. Pedestrians definitely rule here - so much so that I am relatively happy to let the children go out on their own to the 'chucherĂ­a' to buy a few sweets from time to time, even though they have several roads to cross. It is safe enough to do that - which I think is pretty safe.

I fail to understand why the truck that empties rubbish has to come round at midnight - making a heck of a row - unless it's because most Spaniards (and their children) are still wide awake at this time and so not in danger of being woken up!

So it was quite a surprise that when we went recently to visit the fair - set up for just four days of fiesta - that on our arrival, it was pretty quiet. Where were all the good people of Alcala? Surely they were just the sort of folk to enjoy a fairground? Was this 'el crisis'?  No.

We'd gone at 8pm. Far too early.

Just the usual suspects sitting around the fountain
But it soon started to liven up.

Always a favourite - coches de choque - bumper cars!

Or bikes in this case.

Romy was very keen for a go in the water ball and had a great time.

From the blowing up part - where blasts of air were sent into the balloon to inflate it..

To the moment before the 'launch' to the series of ups and downs that followed.

Finding her sea legs.

We went three times over the four days of fiesta - mainly to walk around, take in the atmosphere, say hello to the people we knew - and there were lots! - and try our luck at a few stalls. We didn't have much luck but one of the stallholders took pity on us and gave us a free packet of biscuits, which was very nice of him. I think Cesar also won a packet of turron which we have so far resisted the temptation of opening - far too sweet for this time of year, in my opinion.

On Sunday, we were just finishing a late breakfast when there was a commotion outside and, on investigating, we saw a lot of vintage and classic cars passing by. I missed catching them when they were in a neat convoy but couldn't resist capturing a few as they came passed a while later at a rather quicker pace and more strung-out.

A bit of a weird angle as I hung out over our balcony. I have definitely become more accustomed to fifth floor living as the months have worn on.

Instead of expecting the handrail to give way if I touch it, I now expect it to hold....

I love the Deux Chevaux, 2CV, and used to have one called Pru...

Oh look, managed to catch two together here!

I am wondering what the next few weeks will bring - when Alcala really starts to come to life, when the children finish school and preparations are made for the medieval market at La Mota - and when the now famous Etnosur festival gets under way. This year, there's an African theme to the music. So my guess is there'll be lots of drumming - and I love drumming.

It's going to be amazing.

And we'll be here in the middle of it all, though moving at the end of the month - more to follow!
Now, who has southern Spain on their holiday itinerary? Do drop in if you have and I don't just mean virtually!