One More Sign Of Autumn

As I mentioned, the rains have started, not too heavily as yet, but enough to get the ground well dampened, and that in turn means that the risk of fire outbreaks is very greatly reduced. Which means that the bonfires can begin. Two this morning, but I can now expect to see several plumes of smoke rising from the valley each morning when I look out - unless, of course, the rain falls so heavily that you can't light a bonfire. And that will be the pattern until May, when once again the fire risk means that bonfires are banned.


Time To Dig In The Wardrobe?

Summery weather has stayed with us so far this year and I had hoped to see in November still wearing shorts and sandals, but yesterday the rains arrived. Light rain fell on and off all day, and the clouds took the temperature down. This morning heavy grey cloud is blanketing the sky and the forecast is for no more than 15 degrees - about the same as the UK - so, sadly, the shorts and sandals have gone away to be replaced by trousers, shoes and socks. The forecast is for rain on most days now for the next fortnight. Beyond that, who knows? Probably more rain, because this is the time of year when we expect it. If we're lucky it holds off until November, if not then it comes in October. However, we should get a good spell of bright, sunny weather for the winter, before the rain returns in February for another extended period. After that, it becomes more and more sporadic until by the end of May we are firmly back into the weather that gave the Costa del Sol its name and reputation.


Death Throes Of The Old? Or Birth pangs Of The New?

On the 15th May this year, my wife and I were in Malaga shopping. Passing through the Plaza de la Constitución we encountered a demonstration taking place. It was unusual in two respects; it was relatively small - perhaps a hundred people - and it was pretty quiet. There were some banners and a couple of tables around which people were gathered, but that was about all. The following day I discovered that this had been but one of a number of similar demonstrations in cities across Spain, each linked to the principal demonstration at La Puerta del Sol in Madrid. In Madrid, the demonstrators set up an impromptu camp at the end of the day and remained there for the next two weeks. They identified themselves as “los indignados”, the indignant ones, and their movement became known as 15-M, standing for 15th May. Their indignation was directed at the perceived alliance between corrupt politicians and greedy bankers, financiers and captains of industry., and at the lack of an effective role or even voice for the ordinary citizen, now being required to carry the burden of paying down a debt incurred by others. The birth of the movement had been prompted, partly by events here at home, partly by the civil unrest in Greece, and partly by what was becoming known as the Arab Spring.
Why do I mention it now? Because yesterday, 15-O, the movement born in Madrid went truly global with demonstrations in more than 900 cities spread across more than 80 countries. They varied considerably in size - around 200 in Tokyo, but 500,000 in La Puerta del Sol - but the number and geographical spread in only five months is impressive.

Standing on the brink of 71, and with my allotted three score years and ten all behind me, I too consider myself un indignado, though I wasn’t there in the flesh. I share the dream, encapsulated in their slogan, “Democracía Real Ya” (Real Democracy Now), that the voice of the individual citizen should be heard and heeded wherever they live, and whatever their circumstances, and that this should lead to a better and a fairer world.

I was brought up to remember the words of Abraham Lincoln; government of the people, by the people and for the people. Now, as I look around the democratic nations of the world I see countries where the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is broadly implemented with regard to personal, political and religious freedoms, but where otherwise there is less and less to choose between the parliamentary democracies and the dictatorships and military regimes; the words of the Declaration of Independence have been subverted. Whatever the style of rule, it is those at the top - self-selected for this eminence - who look after each other to the detriment of the rest. Government of the people, by the powerful, for the rich.

How we change that I don’t know, but I take encouragement from the fact that there are so many smarter, younger brains than mine applying themselves to finding a solution. Not for my sake, but for the future that awaits my granddaughters when I am long gone.


Best Foot Forward

The daytime temperatures are now peaking around 24 or 25, so it’s comfortable again for walking. I’ve done a couple of circuits of the village in the last few days just to check all joints and muscles are still working after the summer lay-off - actually, with the wet we had last winter, it’s nearer to an eighteen month lay-off - and everything checked out OK, so yesterday I went off on my first proper walk of the season, only 5.8km, but involving 250 metres of climbing, so I burnt off just over 500 calories. I need to pick up the pace, though, as my average speed was only 3.4km/hr. I know all this from my recently purchased toy, a Garmin GPS pedometer.
Anyway, it was a beautiful day to be walking out in the campo and it’s given me back the taste for more. As we set off, we were passed by John Keogh whose website (frigilianafootsteps.com) is at the bottom of the page, with a party of walkers he was leading to the summit of El Fuerte, our local mountain. As they strode off into the distance I realised that I need to do quite a bit more of my low level stuff before I join him; I’d love to sit on the top of El Fuerte, but it’s roughly 1,000 metres above sea level, so it involves a continuous uphill slog of 700 metres, a bit too much right now.