Long time – no post.

Yes, I agree it has been a long time since I posted anything.

So what happened to the Cherry festival and the Corpus Christi procession? I was unwell so could not get out to gather news and pictures. To make up for it I will post in a separate posting, some pictures from past years just so that those who haven’t seen them before can get a flavour of some of the things that this village does well.
We have now moved into summer with maximum temperatures getting into the mid to upper 30s Celsius (that’s 95° – 100°F) a.k.a. serious air-con weather. Taking the dogs for their lunchtime walk means shadow-hopping, trying to stay out of the sun which, although by the clock it is about 11.30am, by the sun it is only 9.30am and starting to get hot. By 12 noon UTC (sun-time) it is seriously unwise to be out in the sun, unprotected. Every lunchtime all the household precautions are put into place – persianas down, windows closed, make like a cave house and move into siesta mode.

Cherries

As is often the case, we are over-run with the produce of this fertile land.  The first ones we had were sort of bog-standard and nothing much to write home about; then we had some “Sweetheart” – so named because of their heart-shape: (please note that the photos are not to scale)

 

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Then we were introduced to “Starky” which are about 3-4 times the size of the standard with the Starky being 15-16 gm each as opposed to the standard ones at about 4-5gm, followed by “Lamper” which are similar to those that we used to call (when I was young) ‘Whiteheart’ except that these are much sweeter

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At the weekend we were invited to some friends to pick more cherries and we got some bigger Sweetheart (these are about 1 inch [25 mm] in diameter) and some about the same size but much darker in colour and sweeter.  Unfortunately we didn’t quite catch the name of this variety.

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You will be aware that, from our village and our province, we export tons of olives and olive oil but you may not realise that we also export cherries.  The normal eating varieties go to countries such as Germany and UK but an even bigger surprise is that the Lamper variety is not so popular for eating in Spain because of their pale colour which, it is assumed, means they are less sweet, however they are exported to Ferrero to make their “Mon Cheri” chocolates which contain a cherry in cherry brandy (this does not apply to the USA where most of the “Mon Cheri” chocolates are non-alcoholic and have a nut centre).

 

 

 

“Ne’er cast a Clout”

“Ne’er cast a clout till May be out” is a well known saying for most people brought up in Britain.  However, it has often been a source of disagreement as to whether the word “May” refers to the month or to the familiar maytree.  The fact that it is usually capitalised might suggest that it relates to the month but the capitalisation might just be an accidental error.  The problem is not helped by the fact that there can often be sharp frosts in the month of May so the weather provides no clue, despite the fact that the saying relates to one’s keeping warm.Image

Although the saying is common in Britain, it is worth looking at what sayings (often of peasant origin or usage), there might be elsewhere.  In France, they have ‘En avril, ne te découvre pas d’un fil; en mai, fais ce qui te plaît‘   This translates as ‘In April, do not shed a single thread; in May, do as you please‘, which is not quite same meaning as ‘ne’er cast a clout…’. 

There are, however, home-grown versions that support the ‘month’ theory – a fuller version of the rhyme, which goes:

“Button to chin, till May be in,
Cast not a clout till May be out”

Or from the Whitby Gazette, 1855:

“The wind at North and East
Was never good for man nor beast
So never think to cast a clout
Until the month of May be out”

In Spain, They are much more specific: ‘Hasta el cuarenta de mayo no te quites el sayo‘, that is, ‘Don’t leave off your coat till May 40th‘!  So that settles it, we live in Spain and it is quite clear that it is the month that is being referred to, but when is the 40th of May?  May has 31 days so I guess it is the 9th or 10th June.

I’ll keep wearing my cardigan for a little longer.

First Communions

This is the season of First Communions when the children who have been studying and preparing for some time, ceremonially take their first communion.  This, of course, takes place in the parish church and is usually followed by a celebration attended by family members and invited friends.  On Sunday (25th) 13 young persons took their First Communion.  There are two bars-cum-restaurants in the park and each catered for two parties.  Seven parties went to the Salón de Bodas (where they hold wedding receptions) in the Polígono (Industrial estate).  (Where the other two parties had their celebration we don’t know).

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One can dine out, under the canopy or one can dine in, in the restaurant.

We were invited by one of the village gestores and his wife.  There will be a subsequent post about what a gestor/a is and what his/her role might be in the lives of people here.

Girls will often be found wearing a white (or off-white/cream) dress.  Boys may wear a suit or tuxedo, or their Sunday best and, in some cases they may wear military-style dress uniforms with gold-braided aiguilettes and epaulettes.

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Yvonne with our hosts, Puri and Antonio  with  their son Juan Javier.

To add to the entertainment, there was a “Bouncy Castle” which I thought was intended for the children.

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Anybody for canapés?         The children are BIG around here.

We will probably encounter the “First Communicants” again in the procession for Corpus Christi in June.

Patio Plants

We have just managed to find a Plumbago auriculata (see picture, inset shows a flower head in close-up) to join our other plants on the patio.

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So now, we have a lemon tree, a Clementine tree, a wisteria, two grape vines, several aloe vera, a fig, a white oleander (from a cutting at the Fortaleza de la Mota in Alcalá la Real), two yellow jasmine, a hibiscus and various others. There could soon be a case for having a bigger patio.

Rubio and Scruffy’s column

Nothing much has been happening with us lately, except that we have now been shorn ready for the warmer weather.  It was getting a little too warm for us but, according to Dad, it is going to turn cool next week and we are already shivering.

 Pics of us showing the traditional “Before” and “After”

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Las Cruces de Mayo – The May Crosses

In Spain and in many other parts of the world the cross is venerated.  In May (officially on the 3rd) crosses are decorated.  In UK and other parts of Europe (although not necessarily on 3rd May) a similar event occurs in the form of “well-dressing” which is believed to go back to pagan times and gives thanks for good sweet water.

For las Cruces de Mayo after they are decorated celebrations are held at them, often following a pilgrimage (una romería) bearing an image (often a statuette) of the Virgin of Sorrows (La Virgen de Dolores).  A couple of years ago, we went on one that was held at Fuente Rueda up in the hills between Castillo and Valdepeñas de Jaén.  Fuente is a spring or well, so this neatly combined the two cultures.

The photos were taken at that event.

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