Casa Rosales

Casa Rosales

Saturday, 6 August 2016

What a week!

The summer holidays are usually slow, lazy and very hot, although this year, I am working, so they haven't been as lazy as last year.

We had Etnosur during July, where we partied in the streets and the boys stayed out all night. That was fun. We've had blissful impromptu afternoons and late evenings on the beach.

And this week, we seem to have never stopped.

Glorious setting
After another glorious afternoon on the beach to see the sunset and skim stones on the sea, we finished the weekend with a concert in Consolacion, the main church of Alcala la Real - a performance of Mozart's Requiem in homage to the town's choirmaster who died earlier this year. And what a beautiful performance it was too. There were two choirs - one from Alcala and a supporting choir from Jaen, plus a small but excellent orchestra. They made a stunning sound and the soloists were also very good. I had been bowled over by the performance of my mother's choir in March and hadn't expected anything quite so good....but I think it came extremely close.

I commented on Facebook that the only problem was the noisy audience. At the time, I was quite scandalised by the 'zzzzippp...zzzzzzzipppp' as the women who - in a perfectly justifiable attempt to keep cool - loudly flicked open their fans, wafted wildly for a few seconds and then snapped them shut again. And again, and again. I think there were three rows immediately behind and in front of us, each with six women and their fans....I could hardly hear a thing at times. Also, some people didn't feel the slightest obligation to remain in their seats during the performance and wandered around, taking photos or maybe just stretching their legs. And rather too many mobile phones rang for it to be quite clear that Mozart was not held in quite the same esteem by others as he is by me....

However, a long and interesting discussion with one of my students left me in no doubt that much of this behaviour is 'cultural'. Firstly, the performance was in church, not in the theatre. And on a Sunday evening. There was a preponderance of late middle-aged and elderly women present in the audience, who, I was informed, attend anything that happens in the church and expect to behave as they always behave in church. That includes having conversations with neighbours and friends and, of course, using their fans to keep cool in the extreme heat of the summer. The performance was secondary and their knowledge of audience behaviour not required because they were not paying to see it. I did rethink my reaction as a result of the conversation but it may take me a bit longer to completely forget the sound of those fans....

And this week has been unforgettable. We'd planned to spend the afternoon with Sam and family at the nearby 'lake' or pantano. This is a reservoir which we've visited a couple of times since we've lived here - the first with Darwin when we went on a lovely long walk and the second (can't find the post) when we went to eat at the bar that is at one end. Both times, I got some beautiful photos and blogged about the experience.

It's been a very hot few weeks and so we decided to go out around 6pm when it was still hot but past the peak temperature. Probably around 33 hot enough! When we arrived, we were initially disappointed to discover that the Centre that manages the boats, pedalos and sailing equipment looked to be not only closed but really quite abandoned, but undeterred, we crossed the chain and headed down to the lake. Prepare for some stunning shots, taken without any idea of what I was taking as the sun was so bright, I couldn't see my photo screen. However, I luckily managed to capture some of the colours and vibrancy of the scenery.

Looking out across the reservoir.

After a little while, a young man came and let us take pedalos out. 

This is quite the life.

Shades of sunny Swallows and Amazons...

And David caught a carp - he let it go again.
And as we dried off in the sunset, we thought a beer at the bar might be a good idea...
A very lovely day with good friends.
And that's not all!

Last night, it was la Noche en Blanca, which means 'sleepless night' (and in this heat, there have been a few of those) in Alcala la Real. A night of music, late-opening shops, concerts and free museum entries.

This is the view from just below La Mota of some ongoing work to create a new exhibition centre, concert hall, gardens and eventually, a restaurant, on the ruins of an old convent. They've made a great job of it. The gardens were full of vibrant geraniums in all colours but it had got a bit too dark by the time we arrived to capture them.

This is inside the also newly-refurbished Amphibian Rescue centre that we used to visit quite often when we lived in the calle Bolivia - in fact, Jaws, Mateo's pet turtle went to live there when he grew too big for his tank. We hoped he might recognise us and come up to the window so we could say hello to him...but he didn't. We were never quite sure whether he was a he or a she. I had wanted to paint his toenails red so that we could say hello when we visited but Mateo wouldn't let me. He wasn't in the same tank as the python, by the way! All the turtles were in a bigger pond - and they weren't at all photogenic.

Finally, after some tapas in a bar, we made our way up to the little park above Sam and David's house where there was some flamenco singing. It wasn't brilliant as it happens but watching the little children from the 'gitano' families, many of whom live in this area, was fascinating. Even the tiniest ones can clap in the difficult flamenco rhythm and obviously feel the music in their blood. And even when flamenco isn't at its best, there is something so incredibly different about it - it has a raw quality that is both complex and simple. Definitely make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.

And then we sat on Sam and David's beautiful terrace overlooking La Mota, until 4am - with all our children together somewhere in the dark and warm night, talking and laughing and generally feeling extremely relaxed.

During the August fiestas in Alcala, a very special night of Flamenco had been proposed and FR must have been one of the first to buy tickets to listen to one of the most admired singers of the age - Jose Menese. The tickets are on our fridge door waiting for next Saturday's concert up at La Mota - very special...and then the unthinkable happened. Last Friday, poor Jose died. I have no idea what will happen for the concert but I will let you know.

Flamenco is an acquired taste and although I found it difficult to start with, I am now's a little taster if you're feeling brave!

It has been a week of wonderful moments, when we've made many memories and spent precious time together. I really am very grateful for weeks - with friends and family - like these!