It’s been a while. I’ve been off for a couple of weeks, and in that time, we've had our darling son and two friends from waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay back over to visit.
Habibibaba was here for ten days, and it was so good to have him around for a decent length of time. We didn’t do anything very imaginative, just took him to places we like and thought he’d enjoy, and sat and talked in cafes, and walked and walked, and talked and talked. Happy.
Our friends came for a long weekend, which was more of the same – though I think we covered as much distance in three days as in the preceding six!
The Christmas Fair in Plaza Mayor.
To make your own belén (nativity scene) you need cork bark for the stable walls and roof, and live moss for the hillside.
And you'll want to make a joyful noise for the Lord....
The little girl is reaching for a tambourine: there were also hooters, squeakers, trumpets and drums - it was deafening, and as the days passed the noise spread through the streets.
As did the wigs!
Something a little different this year?
Madrid has been quite magical, constantly bubbling with energy and imagination. Christmas trees, lights, fireworks – much as any European city, I expect – but it’s been one long Christmas treat, rather than some ho-ho-ho endurance test.
I never pined for an English Christmas when I was in Dubai, or muttered ‘It’s not the same.’ Too right it wasn’t the same, it was fun, and family and silliness and cosiness, not Jingle Bells from September on! Just a month (at least) of Christmas decorations stuck on every possible surface of our flat; a concentrated week or so of ‘secret’ preparations and teasing; and a day of presents, and friends and food…………. and then time and space to relax and enjoy ourselves.
Alcala, and the Puerta Alcala (Thank you Carlos III, bringer of town planning and straight roads.)
Here, the traditions are different, with all the fun of Christmas, but none of the pressure, and a steady build-up to the coming of Los Reyes Magos, who will bring presents for the children – tomorrow! (Habibi followed Spanish tradition, roasting a suckling pig on Christmas Eve. He tried looking wistful on the subject of the other Nochebuena tradition, in which the grown-ups exchange presents that night. Yeah right, as if!)
The Cabalgata de los Reyes Magos sets off from Nueveos Ministerios at 6 tomorrow evening, and comes down the Paseo de la Castilleana and Paseo de Recoletos to Plaza de Cibeles ( All roads may start from Puerta del Sol, but they al lead to Nuestra Señora de las Telecomunicaciones!) We’ll be there watching them ride by on their camels!
Before that, I must get un pequeño Roscon de los Reyes, just for two. I’ve only seen big ones, often filled with cream or confectioner’s cream, but I have been assured that you can get little ones: if all else fails, I’ll decorate a doughnut with glace fruits, though the tiny toy (for luck) will have to be very tiny.
Now, there's just time to leave your Christmas wish under the Árbol de los Deseos (The Wishing Tree) in Retiro. If you can't quite make it, try this!
And see how Christmas has come to Madrid. Llega la Navidad a MADRID. Y es lo mejor que puede pasarle a un deseo. That big wedding cake building at the end, with all the lights, that's Nstra. Sra. de Telecomunicaciones. Gorgeous, hmm. I don't know how a building can become
part of the family, but she has!
And finally, this is one man's belén.
And here's part of a shop window display.
If you want any more, you'd better take a look at the website of the Associación de Belenistas de Madrid.
This takes you to the work of all sorts of people - just delightful!
And here, you can see details of the belén at the Ayuntamiento (town hall) in Puerta del Sol. Do take a look at the 'Anunciación Pastores (Annunciation to the Shepherds) the Cabalgada (Caravan), and the Poblado with the archway - See the storks?!
If you live in the Middle East, you will love this. I'm going back tomorrow: Mary hadn't had her baby when I visited before - I see from the Natividad picture, that it's time to go again!
More? Here are some prize-winning pieces of extraordinary accuracy and charm.
P.S. Back on the downside, I got robbed - AGAIN - that's three times! This time they took my new birthday camera and Christmas mini-tripod (attached to each other, and buried in a deep pocket, under a glove, on the side between me and the friend I was walking almost arm-in-arm with - I mean - good grief!). So, no more photos for the foreseeable future, and may I say, in this season of giving:
Though I don’t think I look like a victim.
I get robbed with a frequency most sick’nin’.
Relieved of possessions
three times in succession,
I’m coating what I still have with strichnin’.
Let's hear it for that little guy!
I expect that the spacing is all over the place on this, but you get the general idea.
Happy New Year 2008!