183 – A Toothbrush for Christmas

They were already queuing to get back into the hostel for their lunch when I parked outside on Christmas Eve, risking leaving the car in the “Personas Autorizadas” DOCU_SURspaces.  The line snaked right to the corner, and you could see in their posture a sort of resignation, an aspect of helplessness.  All of them standing, mostly motionless, just waiting, with nothing else to do and nowhere else to be, until the hostel staff open the door to let in the waiting people. Continue reading

182 – Flight to Vote

As I boarded I had a sneaky feeling it was a complete waste of time.  No, that’s not fair.  It’s always lovely to see friends in Dorset, and I was due a visit.  Cabin bag laden with turrón (a cross between fudge and nougat, a Christmas essential in Spain) and packs of Spanish ham and cheese. Continue reading

181 – Has Anyone Got Any Knickers?

Church halls pretty much anywhere in the western world all look remarkably similar.  This one was just like the one in Yorkshire I went to in the 1960s as a Brownie, and the one in south London in the 1990s when I hosted fundraising jumble sales, and then in Somerset in the 2010s when I ran charity training courses.  This one, though, was in a small Axarquía town in inland Málaga province. Continue reading

175 – Finding Luck

The tradition began a few years ago.  A coachload of villagers from my pueblo and a nearby one had gone off on a holiday together to Almería in the autumn.  On one of the excursions, somebody said they wanted to nip off and buy a Christmas lottery ticket.  Suddenly everyone around decided to go too, and the coach returned from Roquetas del Mar with people clutching over 200 of the precious lottery tickets, for themselves and for presents within their families. Continue reading

167 – The Turn of Another Year

My fifth Christmas in Spain.  I thought that must be wrong, but it’s not.  Four and a half years since I bought my house, three and a half years since I retired and moved here full-time.  Such a short time, yet it feels like forever. Continue reading

156 – Just being There

 

Lorenzo picked a red plastic tricycle wheel off the cushion and lowered his not inconsiderable frame into the armchair nearest the fire.  He’s a man of few words;  he settled himself down, and gazed around.  His wife, their seven children, half a dozen of the children’s partners, eleven grandchildren, and a couple of young boyfriends of the teenage granddaughters, plus a random cousin or three, were variously clambering on the backs of the sofas, curling their hair in the bathroom, stirring huge pots on the stove, wiping down plastic chairs, and counting out 32 sets of cutlery. Continue reading