As we head towards El Dia de los Reyes Magos, ( Three Kings Day), considered by many in Spain to be their `Christmas Day`, I thought that I would write a few words about, and post a few ( colourful) photographs of, our Christmas and New Year celebrations.
It`s been very jolly and busy ,and then chill out, all at the same time!
The display of Christmas lights in the village in Maro ,and indeed in Nerja, (especially on the Balcon de Europa with its ginormous Christmas tree with its myriad lights, changing colour every few minutes), have excelled themselves this year, and shine brightly as beams of colour, sparkle and hope for 2022.
In our casa we only have a few decorations- white sprayed fennel twigs with lots of colourful glass ornaments hanging on them, and frilly, frothy paper ones strewn across the façade of the house. Next year we will get a real Christmas tree, as I spied them in the local nursery, and we will have our new sitting room upstairs by then, so that will be lovely. I always make a Christmas cake, from good old Delias Christmas cookery book, and decorate as it was done when I was a child, with original 1960s decorations.
There were inevitable moments of anxiety for me in the weeks running up to the festive season, wondering if my son Tom would actually be able to fly here for Christmas, but fly he did, landing on time on Christmas Eve morning at 10.30 am. By 11am, we were wending our way , ( on the less scary roads, due to my fear of heights) to Ronda for a few days , through the eeekk driving rain!!!
I couldn’t believe the weather, which until then has been glorious ,and I mean hot, that is sitting by the pool in a sarong hot, but weather wise, for Christmas, we had three gloomy, drizzly days inland .
We stayed at the very lovely El Molino del Arco, some 9 km from Ronda. A Hotel Rurale, in an estate of 220 acres of vines and olives. A huge traditional country house-part of which is lived in by the owners , and a few bedrooms for guests. It was like staying in a private country house with lots of staff. Our suites were huge , with a sitting room and ( very wet) terrace , so Harry the dog had his own space. Indeed when we went onto town, the lovely girl on reception decided that she would like to have Harry sitting with her, so his bed was moved next to her desk!
It has stunning stepped gardens, with cherry, quince, lemon, pomegranate and orange trees, roses, herb and vegetable beds, and a lovely swimming pool , all surrounded by undulating countryside, looked over by the mountains, and within earshot of the clanking bells of their sheep, as they get rounded up on the edge of the estate. It was charming, and it must look glorious in the summer sunshine!
So although Christmas was a rainy one this year, we enjoyed good food, wonderful presents , tapas lunches in Ronda, and plenty of feet up in the sitting room reading time at El Molino.
The sun actually broke out on the 26th, so we drove into Ronda knowing that we didn’t have to splash through puddles as we had done a few days before. We had coffee in the sun on the terrace of the Parador, the hotel next to the Puente Nuevo bridge, with the best views over the (very scary again), much photographed El Tajo gorge.
We loved the Plaza de Toros, ( bull ring), it is made entirely of stone and built in the 18th century, and seats 5,000 spectators. We walked alongside the gorge; me keeping my distance from the edge, back to the wall , and the town was busy with people keen to get outside after two days in the rain. Lovely views.
We were sad to see Tom fly back to London, but as we drove down towards the coast, the sun really came out, and by the time we got home to Maro to open yet more presents , we did so in the hot sun. So much so that my husband braved the pool , knowing that he had to get used slightly colder (ouch) water before his annual swim in the sea on New Years Day!
We had our `English` Christmas dinner on the evening of the 29th, a delicious turkey ( thankyou Tony`s Butchers), and my favourite pudding of the year with my homemade brandy butter. I even managed to find a large holly bush , dripping in scarlet berries in the garden in Ronda, so brought some home to adorn the Christmas pudding!
New Years Eve was a quiet one deliberately. No raucous partying with crowds until the early hours this year. But we had good friends here for supper, and had a thoroughly jolly evening, culminating at midnight with fizz and grapes (one gulped down for each strike of the church bells-a feat in ). At least I can buy seedless grapes now, I remember really struggling to do it a few years ago with enormous ones full of pips!
Children in our road were letting off -very loud firecrackers, ( oh how the Spanish love them), and we could spy showers of rainbow coloured fireworks high in the sky from our doorstep.
Feeling slightly jaded, and not happy to see a seafret shrouding the vista, we headed along the coast road to La Herradura on New Years Day for lunch with friends at Bambu on the beach. But the fog lifted to reveal the most gorgeous of sunny days, Andrew and Martina swam in the sea as promised, and we had a delicious lunch. A long lazy day, and a wonderful start to the new year spent with good friends.
So Happy New Year-Feliz Ano Nuevo to you all.
It is now Monday, and there is work to be done! But later in the week, it`s more fun and frivolity for the village, when the Three Kings in their vibrant costumes bring presents for the children, a delicious circular cake( Roscon de Reyes), studded with jewel like dried fruits, is eaten ( with a tiny figure of Jesus hidden in it), and handfuls of sweets are thrown into the streets from the parade. It is yet another public holiday, when the Spanish just love to party on…