The Party's Over

It's easy to focus, as this photo does, on the fun side of the festival; that after all is what attracts the thousands of visitors who throng the streets over the four days. Apart from the stalls, there are the street theatre groups of 'strolling players'; there is the chidrens' corner with special events for them; there are the craft stalls, the food stalls and a wide choice of street food. And every night there are the concerts, followed by a disco until three in the morning. The festival opens and closes with spectacular firework displays, and in between people move from bar to bar sampling the range of tapas which is presented for the occasion - complete one of the tapas routes and you can claim a free t-shirt from the information tent! However, this is a festival with a more serious intention. It reminds us of where Frigiliana and the area that surrounds it, La Axarquía, comes from; its geographical and cultural origins dating from the days of Al Andalus, the seven hundred years of Arab/Muslim rule of much of the Iberian Peninsula, and the migrants who were attracted to this great civilisation. It reminds us, equally importantly in today's troubled world, that for seven centuries, Jews, Muslims, Christians lived together peacefully and harmoniously; a peace and harmony that only finally collapsed when 'Los Reyes Cátolicos', the Catholic monarchs Ferdinand and Isabela decided to unite the Peninsula apart from Portugal as the Catholic Christian country of Spain, thereby gaining very valuable support from Rome. The concerts illustrate the rich heritage of the mix of cultures, so that this year we had music from Morocco, from Portugal, from Rumanis, from Catalonia and the Basque country, as well as from Andalusian flamenco itself. In previous years we have had music from Galicia, from the klezmer tradition of eastern Europe, from Byzantium and the Ottoman Empire, and nearer home, from the Sephardi tradition of the Jewish heritage of southern Spain. Augmenting this, we had experts giving lectures on their specilist interests - the Iberian origigns of Andalusian music, and the contribution of St Teresa de Ávils to Christianity in the Peninsula and beyond. Preparations will soon begin for next year's festival, with the clear objective that it shall build on and surpass this tear's.


Home Again

We arrived back last night from our five week trip to England. We loved our time with family and friends, but it's good to be home. There's a warmth and friendliness from our neighbours that is really special. The Spanish are very direct people - much like the Lancashire folk whom I grew up among - and so everyone who spotted my still bruised face needed an account of how it happened. That includes Gema in the pharmacy where I went this morning to pick up my various medications.
Today we are having a quietish day getting things unpacked and put away or into the washing machine. And of course, as ever, it's good drying weather so everything goes up to the roof.
Tomorrow starts with a couple of appointments following on from my broken arm in Germany; in the morning we head for Traumatology at the local hospital for follow-up X-rays and a consultative with the orthopedic specialist, and then in the afternoon I'm due at the health Centre in Nerja to see the physiotherapist, which I'm pleased about because I've had real problems with most of the exercises I was given.
However, once that is out of the way it's a matter of, let the merriment commence. Seven o'clock sees the start of the eleventh annual Festival of Three Cultures, which promises to be even better than last year's. I' be out and about with my camera enjoying the whole atmosphere. I'll share some photos with you, and maybe a few You Tube links to bands appearing over the next four days.


Summer Holiday

We landed in England on July 19th, and we're just starting our final week before heading back to Frigiliana in time to enjoy the Festival of Three Cultures. It's been a time of high spots. I wrote about our time on the Isle of Wight which confirmed our desire to settle there when we leave Spain, but we also took a flying visit to Lancashire. We based ourselves in the lovely market town of Clitheroe in the Ribble Valley for three nights which allowed us to meet up with my cousin and her daughter for lunch at a local pub. My brother, who lives in Nottingham, was in the Lake District the weekend before we went north, and was able to delay his return home by a day to join us all. The following day we went to Rambottom, where we lived before moving to Frigiliana. To be precise, we went to Chatterton on the outskirts of Ramsbottom to have lunch with neighbours. It was strange to be walking up a street which had been home for thirty years. Today, back in the south, some friends who left Spain eighteen months ago and now live in Eastbourne, came over and joined us for a pub lunch nattering away about life then and now. So we've got some good memories of this trip to take back with us.
But we've also had the great good fortune to hit a particularly warm and sunny summer for our holiday, and so we've been able to make the most of our time.
There are other experiences to carry home, mainly to do with food. I love Spanish food and the typical Mediterranean ingredients that we have such easy access to, but this holiday has been an opportunity to indulge in British foods that are difficult or impossible to come by in Spain. The most obvious is the variety of traditional regional cheeses - proper mature cheddar, real crumbly, tangy Lancashire and the like. Then I've had Melton Mowbray pie, Cornish pasties, black pudding (quite different to morcilla), oak-smoked kippers, smoked haddock ( and not the died yellow apology), crab sandwiches, crab cakes; the list goes on and on!
And in Clitheroe I rediscovered a small regional supermarket chain, Booths. Booths began life as a grocer's and provisions merchant and still retains that ethos of a genuine interest in trading up to a quality, not down to a price; they offer the option to buy 'fair milk', sourced from local dairy herds and sold at a premium price, the premium being passed back to the producer. Another wonderful shop on Clitheroe's High Street is Cowmans, a butchers selling only sausage, but in an enormous range of varieties. I had forgotten their existence, but when we went out to lunch with the family at the Waddington Arms just outside Clitheroe, I was able to choose Cowmans Cumberland Sausage from the menu, and I was in my own foodie heaven.
Lovely memories to bring back to Spain, but also to look forward to being able to repeat when we return to live in the UK. A great holiday - and still another week to go.