19th December

Yesterday we had another fun day in Benidorm. We left early to catch the train and when we arrived we headed straight for Pauls, the café just around the corner from Tracey the hairdresser.  We all had an English breakfast and a mug of English tea.  Paul is an Irish fellow and we were soon all laughing at his views on Christmas.  You would think we had known him forever but it was only the second time we had been there.   He was telling us that he has lost a fortune on another bar in the old quarter which he had bought, spent lots doing it up only to find he had purchased a right white elephant and was desperately trying to get rid of.

Whilst Elaine and Jo went off to have their hair done, Tom and I went off to look round the shops and the indoor market and whilst we were there I got into conversation with a Northern lady and her daughter who were sitting with their legs and feet in fish tanks full of fish which were busily feeding off the hard bits on their feet.  The sign said €3 for 15 minutes and they did their best to convince me to give it a go.  Apparently they come every two days but it certainly didn’t appeal to me to have fish chewing at my feet.  Every where we went in the market we heard English voices from the sellers as well as the shoppers.  We came out of the market just as an 82 year old, Dutch lady fell heavily right in front of us.  Once we knew she hadn’t broken anything I helped her up and Tom took her arm and we walked her to her apartment block and handed her over to someone she knew.  She spoke good English and chatted all the way back.  When we saw Jo later I told her Tom had met a lady and had gone back to her flat and I pointed out the blond hair on his shoulder.  She thumped him and then had to apologise after I explained his heroic deed and that she should have noticed the hair was grey not blond.

We went to a really nice area of the the town near the port and went down to some very ornamental terraces which jutted out into the sea and it was a great place to take pictures of  the town and the coastline either side.  We agreed afterwards that although there seemed to be a lot more people around as people pour into Benidorm for the Christmas period; the day had not been good for people watching.  Mind you, what image did we give to people who saw us four and are they talking about the eccentrics they spotted laughing and giggling everywhere they went (Elaine and Jo).

20th December

Today we loaded upTom and Jo’s van and headed off to the beach.   We set up our chairs and Tom went off on his paddle board and in no time was looking as though he was heading for Benidorm as he paddled awayinto the distance.  He then came back and ran in on the very small surf.  Tom went off to get his wet suit and the next ten minutes was spent trying to get me inside it. 

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have now find something else I find difficult because of my shoulder.  Encased in black rubber I was given a verbal lesson on the art of paddle boarding and then it was time to stride out into the sea to give it a go.  I mastered kneeling position paddle boarding quite well and was soon off on a little tour of the bay with Elaine enthusiastically taking pictures.  Next step was getting me to stand up!  At first I did quite well and managed a little distance without falling in.  It didn’t last and I was soon falling in quite expertly and then having to clamber back on whilst poor Tom swam around trying to teach me  and tell me what I was doing wrong.

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IT was great fun and it has taught me that watching Tom on his professional board is something to see as paddle boarding is a  lot harder than it looks.  Elaine and Jo topped up their tans and their entertainment did not stop there because they then had the pleasure of helping me to get out of the rubber suit.  What a day!

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Even Mr Potato Head can paddle board better than me!

Christmas traditions in Spain

Most people in Spain go to Midnight Mass or ‘La Misa Del Gallo’ (The Mass of the Rooster). It is called this because a rooster is supposed to have crowed the moment Jesus was born in the manger and they eat  their main Christmas meal on Christmas Eve before the service. The traditional Spanish Christmas dinner is ‘Pavo Trufado de Navidad’ which is Turkey stuffed with truffles.After the midnight service, people walk through the streets carrying torches, playing guitars and beating on tambourines and drums. One Spanish saying is ‘Esta noche es Noche-Buena, Y no Es noche de dormir’ which means ‘Tonight is the good night and it is not meant for sleeping!’  DEcember 28th is ‘Día de los santos inocentes’ or ‘Day of the Innocent Saints’ and is very like April Fools Day in the UK and USA. People try to trick each other into believing silly stories and jokes. Newspapers and TV stations also run silly stories. If you trick someone, you can call them ‘Inocente, inocente’ which means ‘innocent, innocent’. 28th December is when people all over the world remember the babies that were killed on the orders of King Herod when he was trying to kill the baby Jesus.  New Year’s Eve is called ‘Nochevieja’ or ‘The Old Night’ in Spain and one special tradition is that you eat 12 grapes with the 12 strokes of the clock at Midnight! Each grape represents a month of the coming year, so if you eat the twelve grapes, you are said to be lucky in the new year.

Apart from Christmas, there is another festival that is celebrated in Spain that is about the Christmas Story. It is called Epiphany and is celebrated on 6th January. This is the twelfth night after Christmas. In Spanish, Epiphany is called ‘Fiesta de Los tres Reyes Mages’: in English this means ‘The festival of the three Magic Kings’. Epiphany celebrates when the Kings or Wise men brought gifts to the baby Jesus.  Chilldren have some presents on Christmas Day, but most are opened at Epiphany. Some children believe that the Kings bring presents to them at Epiphany. They write letters to the Kings on Boxing Day, December 26th, asking for toys and presents. And on Epiphany Eve (January 5th) they leave shoes on windowsills or balconies or under the Christmas Tree to be filled with presents. Gifts are often left by children for the Kings, a glass of Cognac for each King, a satsuma and some walnuts. Sometimes a bucket of water is left for the camels that bring the Kings! If the children have been bad, the Kings might leave pieces of coal made out of sugar in the presents.  Some big towns and cities have Epiphany Parades with each King having a big float that is shaped like a camel.  Sweets are thrown out to the people lining the streets and it is said you have to beware of the over aggressive old age pensioner in their quest to get as many of those sweets for themselves.
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Traditions are different around the regions of Spain and wilst in Barcelona we saw something we did not understandand and we saw these everywhere but we have not seen the like around here.

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In the Catalonia province of Spain there’s a Christmas character called ‘Tió de Nadal’ (the Christmas log) or he’s sometimes known as ‘Caga tio’ (the pooping log!). It’s a small hollow log propped up on two legs with a smiling face painted on one end. From the 8th December (the Feast of the Immaculate Conception) Catalan families gives the log a few morsels of food to ‘eat’ and a blanket to keep it warm. On Christmas Day or Christmas Eve, the log then ‘gives out’ small gifts! People sing songs and hit the log with sticks to help its ‘digestion’ and the log drops sweets, nuts, and dried fruits. When garlic or an onion falls out of the log, all of the treats are finished for the year.

If you have enjoyed reading about our adventures, please tell others and message me through wordpress with any likes or comments.

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twoblueducks

This is all about our year long meander around Europe in our motor home. It is a way of passing on what is happening, where we are and thoughts on what we have seen or done. Please comment as it is, firstly, nice to know this stuff is being read, and also tell me if there are other things you would like to hear about.

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