A few days earlier I had been writing to Ben and I said I was off to the shops to look for a 'nice fat chicken' as we both prefer it to turkey. It actually took some finding. I started at the Spanish butchers in the village as I have bought good ones from him before, but he was closed with a sign on the door that said 'tarde 2 mins'. Now Spanish time is notoriously elastic, and after waiting for nearly ten minutes I decided to get on with my other supermarket shopping. The big independent supermarket in Turre only had a very scrawny looking chicken, and some huge pork joints. They don't eat much turkey here and the favoured meat for Christmas seems to be cabrita which is kid goat/lamb, but they didn't even have that at the supermarket. Moving on to the new Iceland store in Vera, I found loads of freezers full of turkeys but no whole chickens. I could have bought a nice little turkey, around 3.5 kilos which would have done us two, but I had set my heart on chicken so I went home without any meat. The next day we both went up to the local butcher again, and there it was, right in the front of the counter, a beautiful chook, that weighed in at 3 kilos, so almost as big as the small turkey. When I buy chicken portions out here they are always huge so I presume they breed them that way. We also bought lovely pork chops and a whole rabbit. Rabbit is eaten a lot here partly because they abound on the campo, and for six months or so, the local men can be seen going out at the weekends to shoot them. The butcher offered to chop everything for us but I was just in time to make sure the chicken stayed on one piece! But I did ask him to chop the rabbit and he smiled when I asked him to 'quita cabeza' or 'remove the head'. The Spanish eat everything on an animal! The cats and dogs enjoyed the heart, liver, kidneys and lungs, but although I like my meat fresh, I don't want it looking at me!
I put the chicken in a roasting bag and popped it in the oven Christmas morning, and it was delicious, served with all the usual extras such as sausages, bacon rolls and stuffing, and of course, cranberry sauce. It was a beautiful sunny day, and although we didn't eat dinner until 4.00, we were still able to eat it in the garden in full sun. The fly-free area is shady by that time so we pulled a table up to the side of the pool, and as there were no flies around that day, it was a lovely place to have our meal. Chris decided he needed a short siesta after a late night and a big meal, so while he was dozing I used skype and managed to chat with three of my sisters who were all visiting at the one house, and all of our boys. So that was a very satisfactory way to spend the afternoon. Once the sun went down, we put the fire on and got comfortable in front of the TV for a few hours before a somewhat earlier night than the one before.
I always think this week between Christmas and New Year's day is a very strange one. The days all run into each other. We haven't done much more than relax though we did get down to the sea-front yesterday as we had a few errands to run in Mojacar. I wanted to get to the bank to pay in a cheque that kind Mr taxman sent me on Christmas Eve. He suddenly decided that I overpaid my tax by quite a sum during the year when I left work; that's 2006-07! It was a big surprise and a very nice Christmas present. Chris also wanted to go to the lotterie shop. There is a big lottery here in Spain, drawn the week before Christmas, called El Gordo or the The fat one. Tickets are sold all year and the prizes are huge and there are a vast number of them. The numbers are drawn by the children from an orphanage on a live TV programme, and they sing the numbers they draw. It is quite extraordinary to watch. Some families, charities, independent shops etc buy a whole block of tickets and sell them on with a mark up of two to three euros on each one for their own organisation. Each ticket costs 20 euros so although there are hundreds of prizes, it is a big gamble. Chris bought one ticket, sold for our own village charity ASADIS and he won 100 euros. That is a very small amount compared with the millions some people win, but it was a nice little extra all the same, so he went in the shop to claim his prize. Some people in there had a huge pile of tickets to be scanned by the machine to see if they had won anything. They would have needed to win a fair sum to cover the cost of the tickets they had bought. The lady behind the desk looked amazed because Chris handed over his one ticket and collected his money, but when she asked us 'algo mas' (any more) we just shook our heads. She obviously wasn't used to one-ticket holders.
Anyway, tomorrow I shall have to shop again for fresh milk, but Friday is a bank holiday, and in Andalucia, Monday is as well. Then at the end of next week we have the big celebrations for Three Kings Day, with the arrival of the kings on the night of the 5th, and a fiesta in our village on 6th. Then we have our big carol concert with the Spanish choir on 7th, but we have just heard that our lovely choir leader Julie, is in hospital, so I don't know whether that will be going ahead. An old problem she has had before has flared up, and I think she is quite poorly. Those of you who believe in the power of prayer, please pray for her. I know she will be so upset if she is not better by 7th, and she needs to concentrate on herself for once, and not be worrying about letting us down.
All that leaves me with, is to wish you all the very best for 2012. I hope it is a happy, healthy and peaceful year for everyone.