Semana Santa in review

Semana Santa is a big thing in Spain.

While Brits celebrate Easter from Good Friday to Easter Monday, apart from the civil service and the queen who start on Maundy Thursday and years back some public sector organisations took Tuesday too, in Spain it is a clear Sunday to Sunday of processions. Back to work on Monday.

Sitting on the terrace peaceably working away (me) and reading (him), we were distracted by next door’s conversation. This is the problem with understanding Spanish. You can’t quite shut yourself off in a little English bubble.

‘He’s going to Ronda today,’ said José. This was his grandson, aged around 22 now. He was off to play his trombone in one of the Semana Santa processions.

The next day was Cordoba, then Motril, and then he was spending the night in Seville before going to Cabra the next day. I was confused with this as cabra is Spanish for goat. How could he be playing in the goat procession? But no, Cabra is indeed a place between Cordoba and Málaga. Then he was back to our home town for Jueves Santo (Holy Thursday) to play there. Unlike the big city processions, our local town has narrow streets and the swaying tronos (floats) get perilously close, and there is nowhere to escape if anything comes unhinged as the streets are packed. One visit was quite enough.

He wasn’t playing anywhere on Friday for some reason.

This conversation was repeated not just that afternoon but every day of the week. Spaniards enjoy repeating things. We could soon recite the itinerary like tour operators and hence I can still remember it now.

During the week another neighbour dropped round and was obviously regaled with the itinerary. ‘Semana Santa,’ she sighed, ‘no one wants to work this week.’ She has goats and they also rent ground for crops. They work seven days a week all year. For a good catholic she’s certainly got the protestant work ethic.

I was surprised at that, given there is so much unemployment in our area. Next door, no one has had a permanent job for more than ten years. The mother cleans, part time. The husband gets the odd building job, very occasionally. The two lads trained at catering college, one as a chef and the other as a waiter. The young one (waiter) hasn’t worked. The older one gets part time stable work and occasional chef work.

While I’m not the world’s biggest supporter of religion, I think his parents must be well pleased that their oldest lad is involved with music and not the usual entertainment of unemployed young people without prospects in life. Playing in a band for Semana Santa is a damn site better than getting in with the illegal wrong crowd.

The story of the lemons

Partner had gone to the rubbish bin which is all of twenty yards away. He met one of the village men he knows (the younger brother of the woman who works in the supermarket) who was carting the lemons up the street with another (unknown) man.

They’d obviously been hired to pick them and throw them out from one of the larger plots down the street. ‘Do you want some?’ asked Loli’s brother. Well, when does Partner say no? He was gutted he didn’t have a bag with him so he scooped as many as he could into his arms while the unknown man stood by glaring, presumably because Loli’s bro was hobnobbing with a foreigner.

Scandalous waste, muttered Partner and then took a bag and shamelessly raided the bin while José held it open for him.

This must have gone round the street because the next day, next door but one collared him with a bag of freshly picked lemons from his trees. You can never have too many lemons. He also gave Partner a titbit of Gib news. ‘Four people stabbed to death.’ !!! No! People don’t get murdered in Gib.

Lemons galore
Lemons galore

They do apparently, a baby, a toddler and a couple. He was British, she was Spanish, the baby was theirs, and the toddler was the woman’s by a previous Danish partner. Police described it as a murder/suicide. It’s so much outside Gib experience that a UK forensic team came over to investigate, and some of the Gib police at the scene have needed counselling.

Anyway, back in Gib, after a lengthy frontier queue, Partner set to donating lemons. Everyone seems to use them in cooking whether savoury or making lemon cakes. Like me, another flat owner drinks lemon and hot water in the morning. In fact we didn’t have enough lemons to give to everyone. Maybe next time. And I’ve nearly run out now. So much for generosity.

But continuing with the freebies, a bag of books from a neighbour, including books two and three of Pullman’s Northern Lights. Yes! What a result. The rest was a varied selection including Stephen Fry, Jeffrey Archer, Peter James and Jeffery Deaver. Can’t remember who else.

Northern Lights two and three :)
Northern Lights two and three :)

To top off the acquisitions, Partner noticed some clothes chucked away at the top of the street. Camo jacket and trousers, shirt and pullover. In the wash they went and he now has a nice jacket and waterproof trousers, (shirt and pully were too small), just in time, as we’ve had a few more rainy days in Gib.

Oh, almost forgot the Easter egg from some neighbours. Think that might find its way back to the finca for my Spanish neighbours. Always nice to give them something back.

Note: Paris post on Friday


67 comments on “Semana Santa in review

    • He’s the epitome of chilled. Like Pippa, what is there not to smile about though? One day on the street, the next in a home, with other dog/s, food and furniture to sleep on. Plus trips in Land Rovers!

      I’m not planning on going to that hot heaven, but when I get to the Rainbow Bridge at least I’ll get a warm welcome there for homing rescue/street dogs. It’s one thing I’ve achieved in life that I’m pleased about.

      Liked by 3 people

          • Yep, we see that around here, too… Young family buys a Saint Bernard, or Golden Retriever, or yapping little toy dog, ignoring the little beauties on the street, or those already in shelters.


          • Where I live, the shelters are heaving, and many of the dogs destined for the shelters can’t even get in, but there are generous souls who foster as part of the shelter schemes. Both of ours were street dogs. It’s as easy to take what just turns up. I find shelters incredibly depressing and ended up in tears the last time I went to one in the UK :(


          • They are incredibly depressing, I agree. I admire the people who can work in them; they must have a “detach” button which allows them not to get too emotionally involved. BH just flew a rescue jaunt with a BIG ol’ pit bull mix named Big Boy. He was one of five, I think, out of some shelter. Some had been adopted, some euthanized, and he was the last of the lot. Anyway, BH said this big dog was incredibly trusting and good throughout the flight. Did whatever he said and was just so endearing. We were relieved to see a post on Facebook that he is now in his “forever home” with two little girls holding him. Made our day.


          • I couldn’t do the work either. I would be an emotional wreck. Mine is to give a home when I can. An easy option in comparison. Pit bulls have such a bad time, and often such darling docile dogs. We knew a staffy mix in the UK, with huuuuuge jaws, and he would playfully and so gently take your hand. Everyone loved him. Dog abuse huh, not good. But what good news, must have made BH feel a special tingle seeing that :)

            Liked by 2 people

          • BH managed to take a photo of Big Boy in the back seat of the Cessna, sitting up straight and tall, and just looking around. If I can figure out where it is (maybe on his phone) and how to do it, I’ll send it to you.

            Liked by 1 person

  1. You only truly realise the worth of something ;’homegrown’ when you have to go out and buy it.
    We have five fruit bearing lemon trees – grown ourselves – and two ‘on the grow.’
    The fruit is still small and green, but give a month or two and all the fruit will be ready. From the look of the trees it will be a bumper crop this year.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. No, one can never have enough lemons. Our baby tree is not doing well, but I’m fortunate that a villager has one that’s overburdened. He supplies lemons and I reciprocate with pesto or some other produce made with them (or something else). And, waste not want not was my mother’s motto, so hand-me-downs and cast-offs were always gratefully accepted. Still are!


  3. This is a lovely post. I enjoyed the photos and the stories — and was able to manoeuver through quite nicely, too, now that I know about that little x. I am not a fan of lemons, although for a very brief few weeks I was drinking (and enjoying, much to my surprise) a morning water and lemon concoction. Unfortunately, I seem to have a problem with these drinks, though — because when I drink them, I develop cold symptoms (true!). I tried a few times and each time I got sick.

    The pictures are very helpful too. The place looks lovely! The marina reminds me of the ones here. I guess boats are boats, and wherever there is water there will be some. I just wish one of them were mine….

    The two people not interacting appear to be actually three. The middle one is only evidenced by a leg and a hand, but I’m pretty sure there is more to him/her than that.

    Do you split your time between Gib and Spain? Two homes? Seems pretty nice, to me, especially when you have good neighbours.

    I like your book bag, too. Most of the authors are not familiar to me, but I LOVE Jeffrey Archer! I’m currently waiting for the latest in his series to be available in paperback (it is currently available here either in hardback (for purchase) or via ereader (from the library). SInce I can’t afford the first, and don’t enjoy the second, I wait. And I am hoping (without a great deal of expectation) that he will have stopped with the cliff-hanger ending for a change. He is a master story teller with a gift of cliff-hangers, but enough already!


    • Thanks Diana. Glad it was easier to look through. You do have to wait for the pixels to settle and the pix to come into focus sometimes, prob because I haven’t downsized them on the ipad. I think I was trying to capture the lazy village life feel of the post where life just goes on slowly from day to day full of little things and is immensely pleasurable for that reason. You can always add honey (and whisky!) to lemon and hot water.

      La Linea is a hole, but the marina and western beach are quite nice. The other side used to be the fishing boat side, little boats on the beach, still are some actually, and was extremely rough years ago but even that’s a bit tidier these days.

      Well spotted. The middle person is probably on the internet or phone too!

      When he has no work or no other commitments we go to Spain, but don’t stay longer than a couple of weeks at a time because of running the block. It’s a pretty cheap holiday, £30 there and back for fuel plus £10 each way for tolls, so £50 for the journey, and the cost of living is lower than Gib so no additional costs.

      Archer is probably the one I’m not fond of, I’ve only read one. I’ll probably read it when I’ve read the others first! The ones I mentioned are all British authors, which I tend to prefer anyway. I didn’t think I’d enjoy ebooks but I do. Although the next couple of books I’m reviewing I got in print. Tomorrow’s book review about Paris is photographic anyway so it wouldn’t be the same as an ebook.


  4. Well, after a murder there is nothing like a nice lie down with a lemon toddy. Here there has been a spate of domestic murders. Perhaps too many holidays brings out dormant rage and blind fury. The spirit of Easter has morphed into lots of sugar laced chocolate overloads as well. In my time we had hard boiled eggs at Easter.


    • Yeah, I read about those :( An Aussie blogging pal sent me some links. Very depressing and sad reading. Have to say I always grew up with chocolate ones, lots of them. I didn’t kill anyone though. We did paint real eggs though, I dimly remember that.


  5. I see little white puppy is in what we like to call the pterodactyl pose. My Great Dane sleeps like this a lot. Great post as always!!!


  6. I have all the Pullman books of the golden compass series and I enjoyed them very much, my style, I did hope they would do follow up films but alas no such luck… If you get a chance and are interested in them try Terry Brooks Shanara series,, first was Sword of Shanara. I have read all and have all his books plus his others,, so you can guess he is my favourite author…


  7. Lemons straight off a tree, rather than via retailer are citrus gold. I had been popping lemon seeds in soil in a pot on the balcony to grow lemon seedlings for the leaves, for use in cooking. Which I did but the soil I re-purposed was from a forgotten attempt to grow a passionfruit, which with the extra attention grew as well. One lemon seedling took off ahead of the rest so it’s now in a separate pot. At Taylors Arm there is no shortage of bush lemons which I love but I’d like my tree in the yard.
    I’ve added Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials (#1-3) to my Goodreads list.
    Four people stabbed to death in Gib… how matter, where, how or why… it always saddens me.
    I’m not aware of any formal Easter celebrations/parades in Australia other than church services which we occasionally wander up to but missed this year as we were off visiting. But non-formal celebrations seem to encompass relaxation, camping, home projects and gardening. Like you we gardened… a big effort on Easter Monday as the preceding days followed the tradition of rainy weather.


    • That’s too funny. That happened with my alcachofa though. It started growing, fizzled out, disappeared and now it’s fruiting. I’ve never seen lemon seeds, well not in the shop, in lemons of course. Never thought about growing them. Ours is a baby tree in a pot and has some flowers on at the mo, but I’m not holding my breath for a glut of lemons this year.

      Pullman is good. I’ve not met anyone who doesn’t like his books. Must read 2&3 when I have a mo, which won’t be just yet.

      It’s just unheard of here. And being regarded as a domestic crime … It’s still under investigation by forensics in the UK.

      I saw a minor procession in Gib one year by the Catholic church where the bishop and a few faithfuls did a short loop around the streets ringing bells and then went back to finish the service, but the Spanish processions have to be seen to be believed. The music is good too. Usually very haunting.

      Must have bern raining everywhere at some point. It had rained in Spain the days before we arrived. We’ve had some here too this past week. Usually at night when the washing was hung out :D


  8. Is it typical for British ex-pats to speak Spanish or are the natives completely surprised to realize you understand them? I always fantasized about how wonderful it would be to break out into fluent Mandarin in Taiwan. Alas, the lessons met the great unmovable wall of my own inability to grasp the language. The lemons look so ….rustic. I bet they’re more delicious than our perfectly formed, crayola yellow fruits.


    • It really varies. I suspect away from the coastal resorts Brits do speak Spanish to varying degrees. It’s partly dependent on motivation obv, but location plays a key part. If no one else speaks English around you or in the shops, you’re not going to have a very communicative life. All our immediate neighbours are non-English speaking so that was a big help. And they are all friendly and stop to chat in the street. I think they’d be surprised if we didn’t speak Spanish, they are very practical and wouldn’t expect anything else.

      They are lovely and they smell delicious too. I think we gave too many away to Gib neighbours though, I’m down to my last one :(


  9. My dad always drank lemons in hot water during the winter – to prevent colds and help sore throats. Lemons were an expensive luxury to those farm boys growing up – too cold to grow their own there.
    Lemons just make everything smell fresh.
    No place has more elaborate religious processions than Spain. Seeing on for the first time is a wonder. These events do give people/kids something to be part of and do to keep them out of trouble.(Does any place have more holidays than Spain? – When I was with Santillana we were always trying to get stuff done before holidays.)
    You did portray the village life there well. How sad about the violence. People are people. Hopefully this is a rare event. Stabbing children. Would be hard to see.
    Congrats on all the freebies.
    Molly’s preferred sleeping position is sprawled on her back with hips butterflied out under the ceiling fan. We’ve never had a dog sleep like this. We figure she’s hot. It is funny. (Nice sockie, Snowy! All yours!)
    Oh, off to do boring stuff before it storms again. Paw waves and happy novel reading


    • My parents only drank lemon and hot water after they’d got a cold, plus honey, glycerine and whisky. Worked a treat mind. Sparked you out if nothing else.

      I admire Catholics, whether practising or not, for not letting religion take over their lives, but using it tomfit in appropriately. My neighbours don’t ever go to church apart from funerals, weddings and communión. But I think to learn decent music, focus on something like Semana Santa parades, is actually a good thing. I used to sing loads of religious music, so I think amy music is good.

      Certainly rare in Gib. I suspect there was rather a lot of blood at the scene. Hence the stress for some of the officers who attended. It’s not exactly London, NY, or LA here.

      Freebies are always good :) Waste not, want not.

      Snowy does like to impersonate a seal too. But mostly, he needs to be next to someone. Right. Next. To. Them. And they had better not move or Grrrrr. The good thing is, he gets bored with his acquisitions. Nearly wrote inquisitions. Equally as appropriate by the time he’s worried it to death.

      No rain or storms forecast here. For a few days at least. Paw waves and happy barks back.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I agree that one cannot have too many lemons. We get through a lot, but have to buy them. I enjoyed reading about your acquisitions. My mom always used to say, “Waste not, want not.” Love the pic of your white ‘couch potato’. :)


    • The trouble is, I use them a lot. In hot water, on salads, and then other cooking, especially paella. As Partner does none of those, he doesn’t appreciate how many I go through. He made me lemon and hot water the other week which was sweet of him, but I couldn’t taste the lemon. I don’t want two drops, I want half a lemon!

      Beyond me how he can take up as much space as the big dog :D

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Pleased to meet a fellow Brit living in Spain… I live up the coast in benalmadena… We’ve been here a year, moving down the coast from mazarron (costacalida)… We love it here enjoying the lovely weather and relaxed and peaceful life… You have indeed lead an exciting life in England… And now revising books in Spain… How lovely… I’m going to enjoy being your friend here… Barbara


  12. So are the flowers pictured lemon blossoms? They look a lot like orange blossoms, which is what drew me to this post in the first place. Do lemon blossoms smell as good as orange blossoms do? The latter is one of my favorite scents on earth.


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