Well that has been my busiest week so far, and as you will see, it involved quite a lot of eating!But first, here is my Friday Smile.
This is my second eldest sister and her husband, who yesterday celebrated their 66th wedding anniversary. Now isn't that something to smile about? There were eight of us (six of them girls), but there is quite an age gap as Jean and I were the post-war babies. So we were the two little bridesmaids at this wedding, and with everything in such short supply just after the war, we carried posies of red peonies, and in the photo I am surrounded by a circle of petals because I systematically dismantled mine!
And so on to my week, which was so busy that I am quite sea-sick from all the Rocking!
Saturday: I was up early for a flying visit to Vera for a couple of items I couldn't get last week. I needed a red scarf so I whizzed round the open market, and just had to take a photo of this stall which was brimming with items for the traditional Beléns, or nativity scenes. These are set up in most town squares, larger shops and many homes, and they not only include the traditional stable with the visiting shepherds and kings, but also depict all aspects of village life, such as the mother washing, the farmer slaughtering a pig, the goatherd, and fields of carrots and lettuces, to name but a few. All these pieces are purchased individually, so for a month or so there are shops and market stalls that specialise in them.
From Vera I drove back to Mojacar in time to join our 'mother church' who were singing carols in the plaza of the Parque Comerciál. It was a lovely morning so there was a good crowd seated outside all the cafés, who joined in with the singing too.
We were ably led by our vicar, Reverend Pauline, who sported her own special Christmas hat, and encouraged maximum participation from the spectators.
When that finished it was straight home to change before going to our first Christmas dinner at a local bar. We have decided to disband the village art and craft group for now, and this was a final get-together. We filled all the tables, and we sat with our friends Tina and John (who didn't want to be photographed).
The husband of one of our members was celebrating his birthday, so we all had a glass of cava to toast him while he blew out the candles on his cake.
Sunday: It again dawned bright and sunny, and I set out early for our church crib service. It was a lovely service. We sang all the old familiar carols, and listened to simple readings as the children came forward during each song to place the characters in the stable.
After the service it was warm enough for most folk to sit outside and chat over a coffee and some of my mince pies.
There were two smiling tea ladies, yours truly and my friend Chris. We always take our turn on the rota together and we make a good team, because I do the baking and she shops for milk and water, then she makes the coffee (I don't like the smell!), while I man the big tea-pot.
Monday: This was relatively quiet, in that I had no pre-arranged activities, so I did some last minute shopping and I managed to finish making my Christmas cards and get them all written. I had given a lot out on Sunday, but I still needed a load for my sewing group on Wednesday, so I was glad I got them ready in time.
The shopping was for silly little items so I went up to Mojacar Pueblo, the little white village set high on a hill above the Playa, because there are lots of little novelty shops up to poke around in. I managed to get everything I wanted, but it was a really strange morning. The Pueblo was almost deserted. There is a big, sandy car park just below the village where I usually park and walk up to the shops. The walking is good for me! Usually it is a struggle to find an empty spot, as it is a favourite tourist stop during the holiday season, but on this day there was only one other car parked there. I knew I would have got into the higher up car parks but I still needed the walk. When I got up to the shops they were similarly empty, so I took my time wandering around, and was able to chat to some of the shop keepers who were pleased to see me I think! I always like an opportunity to practice my Spanish. It was lovely to walk around without worrying about traffic in the narrow streets. The air was warm and the views beautiful, but I couldn't help comparing it with last minute shopping sprees in UK. It makes me feel blessed to have escaped from all that.
Tuesday: This evening was our proper carols by candle-light service up at our little church. This was such a lovely evening. We again sang many of the old favourite carols, and listened to the traditional readings, but we also had a solo by John who sang When a child is born, a really funny sketch by two sheep discussing why a King would choose to be born as a lamb whose most likely outcome would be to be used as a sacrifice!
As you know, a small group of us have been practising every Friday afternoon, to learn two special songs to sing, so we (grandly referred to as the choir), did our pieces too.
We usually have a congregation of between thirty and forty folk, but there were 120 people at the carol service, including our immediate English and Spanish neighbours, and councillors from the town hall who allow us to use the building each week. There was a lovely moment at the end when the lights were turned out and we all lit our candles for the singing of Silent Night, and for the final blessing.
Here is Rev. Pauline about to snuff the candles on our advent wreath. She is one lovely lady, and is so happy at the way we have grown together since our first ever service there, exactly one year ago.
Of course there were more mince pies and coffee after the service, so I took along another few dozen for that. And then we all trooped down to a nearby bar/ restaurant for a family meal together. I can't honestly say it was the best meal of the week but the company was lovely. This was our table, but we just about filled every other table in the place as well.
So we come to Wednesday which was - yes you've guessed it - another Christmas dinner, this time for my Wednesday sewing group. We met at the usual time and some of us even managed to do some sewing or knitting, while others gave out their cards and looked at the ones they had received. There was lots of happy chatter and laughter.
Then the laughter moved up a notch with the arrival of Father Christmas and his helper in the form of a tree! Inside the tree was Selina, who runs our group together with her sister Gloria. She is such a good sport, and always makes us laugh. They distributed gifts of pretty embroidered purses to each of us, and then it was time to tidy away and head for the restaurant.
We went to another favourite eating place of ours, where we will also be going for our dinner on Christmas day. They had set up a long table for all of us, and this provided a perfect corridor for a competition between the model planes that were in some of the crackers!
We had a lovely three course meal, as we always do there, and wine and other beverages were flowing freely. This is the one day when I don't go 'sin alcohol' because I am driving, so at around 4.00 I rang Chris to come and collect me. He was just one in a long line of obliging husbands who rolled up to collect their other halves. I went home and promptly fell asleep! I bet the others did too!
Now what did I do on Thursday? Oh yes - I had another Christmas dinner! This time it was the dinner for all the pensionistas in the village, put on by the town hall. We pay a little towards it, but it is heavily subsidised and well worth going to. Five coaches line up along the front of the village and we all climb aboard, though this year we opted to drive in our own car as we needed to be home early. It is always held in a function suite, just off the motorway, on the way to Carbonaras. The room is beautifully arranged, with loads of tables that each seat twelve people, and we all just find spaces where we can. This year we sat at a table with all Spanish people, which gave me another chance to practice speaking, and they were very friendly and made us feel welcome.
There was wine, water and beer on all the tables, and we could ask for any thing else that we wanted. We were served with an excellent five course meal with a delicious sorbet to clean the palate between the fish and meat. Later there was a singer and time for some dancing. We had to leave before the end, but as we drove out, the coaches were just turning in to pick everyone up, so I don't think we missed much.
We got home with just a quarter of an hour to spare before we went out again, so I quickly fed the dogs, and then we went to collect our Spanish friend Cati, as we had been invited to take her to a carols and candles event at the nearby campsite. It was organised by an Irish lady who does a lot of work fundraising for charities, and she had a donation to give Cati for her work with the disabled children in our village and surrounding area. (I am on the right with Cati on the left, and Siobhan who organised the event is between us).
It was a very nice little event with some carols and other songs to sing, a couple of solos and comic recitations, and then we all lit a candle, and while one lady sang Silent night, we all processed out to a Garden of Remembrance to place our candles around the Tree of Light.
We took a moment to remember absent friends and family. Cati lost her mother around this time last year, and she was very moved by the experience and has asked to go again next year.
So now it is Friday, and Chris and I were happy to have a light lunch today! Tonight I am singing with my choir at our last engagement - a charity fayre outside the Spanish/English school on Vera.
Tomorrow I have a bit of baking to do but then I am a free agent until the New Year! Our grandson, who celebrated his twenty-first birthday this week, is arriving on Monday to spend Christmas week with us. I am so glad that I can sit back and enjoy his company.
I will leave you with this photo of my dear little winter pansies that have settled in so well and are flowering. They have such pretty little faces.
And of course there are some lovely skies too. The first two were taken earlier in the week. There were some lovely colours in the sky as the sun was setting, but the clouds were coming in too and soon there was just a line of light silhouetting the distant trees.
These two were taken last night. The first was from our garden as I was quickly feeding the dogs, and then, as we went to collect Cati for the carols, the whole sky looked as though it was on fire.
Thank you to those who have stayed with me through this long post. I am sorry it took so long to get to some of you last week, but I think I managed to visit everyone in the end. I will be late starting my rounds again this week, but I will get to you all.
Thank you for your continuing support. I love to read all your comments each week.
Now all that is left is to wish you all a Very Happy Christmas, and a Peaceful and Blessed New Year.
I will be off to link up with Annie's Friday Smiles and Rocking Your World at Virginia's blog, and then I must get into the black and purple and head off for the choir event.