Yesterday, we went to the funeral of an ex-pat. I had only met the lady on a few occasions, but her husband went to night classes with me, so I knew him quite well. His wife had had cancer in England many years ago, but had recovered, but, sadly, it returned again in recent years.
She died on Saturday night, in her sleep. In Spain, funerals are usually held very quickly, so they expected to bury her on Monday. The family were able to delay things until Tuesday, to enable her children in the UK to come out too.
The funeral service was held in a beautiful new building, all white marble and glass, in nearby Ontinyent. Here, one of the ex-pats is actually a serving vicar, and so the service was held not only in English, but also by a friend to all of us. How wonderful and extra special. So often, the vicar has never even met the deceased, but here, the service was very personal.
Sadly, after the service, close family then had to travel to Valencia for the cremation. There are only 2 crematoriums with an hour of here. (Valencia and Denia) Thankfully, everything there was very well organised, and they were able to return by 7pm, in time for everyone to celebrate her life. God bless Mavis, rest in peace.
Sunday, 18 July 2010
We all managed to get together for a night out.
We booked a meal at the Rose and Crown, Zouch, but as it was a Friday night, it was late before everyone got there! The staff came and took our orders before everyone had arrived, but even so, we all managed to get fed.
David and Wendy travelled up from Stratford, and Mick and Jolene from Grantham. We picked Stacey and Laura up from Kirkby, so Jamie and Stacey had the shortest trip. (At least they weren't the last to arrive!)
We had a lovely evening, and it was great to catch with everyone properly. Hopefully those without passports will get them over the next few months, and then they can come and see us over here! x
I went shopping with Jessica, and we decided to treat ourselves to a 'Chocolate Temptation' in Thorntons cafe.
The lady poured chocolate syrup into the glasses, then scooped in Thorntons own ice cream. Next, came marshmallows, then hot, frothy milk, the whole thing covered in whipped cream and chocolate flakes. (2,000 calories?)
Don't bother. They looked wonderful, but tasted awful. There were too sweet (sickly) and the combination of cold ice cream and hot milk, just made for a tepid drink. Neither cold nor hot. Horrible. We both left them. (And we took the cakes home.) Stick to the continental chocolates!
When we were in the Uk recently, we were able to catch up with many friends, at the British Superbikes at Mallory Park.
We had a wonderful day. The weather was good, the racing excellent and the company outstanding. It was as though we hadn't seen each other, for just a few weeks. The usual suspects were there, and everyone was prepared to joke and jest just as in the past.
Sadly, we haven't yet found any similar smaller race circuits in Spain. Here, the tendency is to ride out on a Sunday morning, not watch others racing. There is a good established championship here, but many of the events are held at the big circuits, such as Jerez, Valencia, Albacete etc.
Still, bit by bit, we are finding out about local clubs and the like, so we are meeting new bikers, even though we don't always understand them!
It is the time of year for the stag beetles again.
Strangely, they seem to want to fly north, regardless of the fact that there is a house in the way! They crash into the terrace wall, and fall injusred to the floor.
Ed picked this one up recenly, and was suprised at it's strength. To my amusement, Max didn't want anything to do with it - obviously they have leant that most things here want to bite, sting or stab you!
This week has been extremely warm. There were warnings at the beginning of spring, that we may be in for the warmest summer in many years, possibly 2 or 3 degrees higher than normal.
For the last few weeks, it has barely fallen below 33 degrees each day. Night time temperature drops to around 25!
Sadly, this has meant many old and young people becomming ill. Even little Alicia has been unwell with the heat. Most of the time, we have been indoors. We have often had the windows and doors closed, trying to keep the heat outside, but, sometimes, there has been enough of a breeze to enable us to open up the dining windows, so it is like living outside (especially when the swallows fly in, swoop around then go back out again!).
After adult shool had finished the year's curriculum, there were 2 weeks of cultural activities, one of which was a visit to Casa Santonia, a very old house in the centre of town.
Originally, the family owned a lot of land, buildings and vinyards in the area. There were about 30 of us from school, and we were given a full introduction to the history of the property. Unfortunately, this was all in valenciano, and much of it was too quiet to be heard! Thankfully, we were then able to wander around at will, exploring and discussing freely.
The house is currently being converted into a museum. The huge ground floor is primarily one big open space, where previously the animals would have been wintered. The kitchen too was in this area, retaining the wonderful tiles and ceramics from 18th century. On the main staircase, each riser had a different picture in the tiles.
On the first floor, the main living area, the walls were painted around 1810, depicting the seasons, the universe, the four known continents of the time, and two huge scenes, one of Cadiz and a hunting scene. The house was believed to have belonged to a family of Freemasons, making it the most unique temple in europe.
The cellar still has the original buried jugs and water course, and the courtyard maintains some original features. There is still very much work to be done, but it is certainly worth preserving.
In June, Kingstone (near Uttoxeter) held their village fete.
Similar to most fetes, there were the usual selection of stalls (cake, bottle, etc) which were in the village hall. Kingstone has the advantage of a lovely field in the centre of the village, and this year, the weather was very kind. Lots of events took place outside, including a dog show (waggiest tail, most like owner etc).
A little earlier in the morning, we went to an outdoor church service. This was really nice as it was actually to celebrate the village well dressing. The decorated plaque was originally made by my dad, and filled in by ladies in the village. The picture is made of totally natural materials, such as flower petals, egg shells, sheep wool, bark, etc.
At the church service, was also a young couple having their ban's read. I thought this was lovely for them, to come to an outdoor service. Even the cars that drove past us were happy to see a bunch of people singing in the middle of the street!
This year, 5 of us managed to get together and actually met up at our house!
Ali and Pete travelled through France and Spain on their bikes. They actually celebrated Pete's 50th birthday, with a wonderful party in a French Chateaux, including fancy dress on the day! Many of their family were there, making it a wonderful celebration.
Tina managed to fly in to Alicante late one evening, being picked up by Tracey, who had managed to get to Spain, from Hong Kong, via England (so she could bring Janet with her).
What a well travelled bunch we are! And successful too! Lawyers, managers etc.
We had a wonderful day together, enjoying a simple BBQ, after a German style afternoon, of coffee and cake (less of the coffee, more of the cake)! Hopefully we will be able to do it again next year.
Thursday, 1 July 2010
Jessica had been to several wedding fayre's and had an idea of what she wanted for the cake design. A family friend (Jill Smith) made the cake and was also able to get the special stand that Jessica wanted, so that the top tier was suspended above the lower one.
All of the tiny flowers and leaves were hand made by Jill and are all edible. The same applies to the lettering, cut-outs and the tiny butterflies. The only thing non-edible is the ribbon and beads (I think). In honour of all of her hard work, there was a special pin-board up, showing the making of the cake in many stages; the mixture in the tin, the petals and leaves drying etc.
The cake had a special table of it's own, near the head table, which gave everyone a chance to see it clearly, without being in the way. It was the perfect setting. Too often, due to lack of space, the cake is tucked away in a corner - this one was as prominent as the master of ceremonies!
I think it was very difficult for them to cut into, as they must have felt sad destroying such a beautiful creation. However, I'm very glad that they did, because it tasted wonderful.
Jill - thank you so very much for all of your hard work. x