Friday, December 24, 2010


I used to love Christmas. Who didn't? Well people who got very little I suppose.

But I got loads. Loads and loads. There was no big family Christmas get together or meal or anything like that, sometimes just the two grandmothers were there, with my father drinking, in the hopes that eventually they would disappear in front of his eyes.

I loved waking up to my stocking so early in the morning. It was a large stocking and had lots and lots of goodies in it. It always had clementines and some new coins in the bottom. My godmother, an older cousin, had got some made for us all and it had my name on it. In glitter.

One year, I sprung my mother bringing it in, to place it on the end of my bed. I then realised Santa didn't bring my stocking but I knew he still came down the chimney to bring me all my presents.

He lined them down the staircase, all around the sitting room, in the hall, and - when I forgot to look in the dining room - my parents pointed out that he had put presents against all the walls in there.

Kind Santa. But when my parents knew that I had tumbled to the stocking wheeze they inadvertently let out that he didn't come down the chimney either.

That moment of disillusionment is pretty sad. There are others in life too, but no Santa ranks pretty highly.

We never got our tree early. We didn't do the tree up on Christmas Eve thing like my mother's family did, but it was always after their birthdays in mid December and usually bought on the last Saturday before Christmas.

We had an old (well, 1930s) house, so it was high enough for a big tree. The Saturday when the tree was bought, my mum and I would decorate the tree in the evening, with the record player playing our favourite Christmas carols.

All the precious and some very old and treasured ornaments were carefully hung. Most - rare - breakages were caused by wagging dogs' tails but not when we were decorating. Then the lights, the tinsel (which my mother loathed), and finally the lovely fairy at the top of the tree.

How I loved that night. Even taking it down by Epiphany wasn't sad because I could always look forward to next year. Next Christmas. There would always be one.

On Boxing Day, my mother would always give me an extra present. Christmas didn't end for me on Christmas Day - she made sure that the holiday and the giving extended. There was no let-down after Chrismas Day, there was something else to look forward to.

Many years later, Partner and I visited them in their new old bungalow (which all old people buy) at Christmas. No tree. No decorations. No interest in it. Christmas was always about giving their little girl what they had never had.

And me? Well I'm the same now with my minimalist non-existent Christmas. I have no kids, no parents, no family. What does that lovely Christmas of my childhood mean now? It went a long time ago. Not only that, but December brings back so many memories of my parents, their birthdays on consecutive days (just like mine and Partner's), the last time I saw my mum in December the year before she died, and my father, who was rushed into hospital on Christmas Eve just before he died shortly afterwards. I remember, too, that Boxing Day when I started my trek back to the UK to see my dying father for the last time. link to earlier blog post here

i would put up a tree if I had the space. I do like the trees. Even small ones can look so pretty. But otherwise? Christmas is a bit of an inconvenience because the shops are shut for too long.

Monday, December 13, 2010


Comares is on the roof of the world, or at least the roof of La Axarquia.

Some 735m high, it virtually teeters on top of a hill, inland from the coast about 25 kms. From all around you can see this fairy tale pueblo perching precariously on top of its hillside. Mountain would be a better word.

That's where we're heading. Up there.

Getting nearer to our destination.

Perching on top of the hill.

Looking down on the hills from our eyrie. We might as well be in a 'plane.

Looking across, still higher than they are though.

The population of Comares is officially less than 2000. Not surprisingly. Why anyone would want to live there is beyond me. It is an excellent visit for a touristy day out - quaint town, superb views, panoramic scenery - takes ages to get to, and miles off the beaten track. But that's Spain for you.

Our first visit there left me clinging onto the side of our trusty Santana Land Rover as we wound perilously ever and upwards towards the sky. Vertigo kicked in big time.

Partner helpfully pointed out that he had known someone else like me before. Seems our heads can't take in the ascent as rapidly as it is made. Figures. So he slowed right down and we crawled painfully up the never-ending hillside. Round and round and up and up and .... well you get the idea.

Eventually we arrived. Was I ever glad to fall out of the vehicle and hit terra firma. Even if I was worried about falling off the edge of it.

The pueblo is pretty. Usual quaint white town stuff. Winding Moorish streets, old castle and not much else. Oh, lots of pretty flowers outside peoples' houses which never seem to get nicked.

Pretty floral patios.

Up to the castillo.

Arty photo.

Looking back to the village from the castillo.

Looking across the hills from the castillo.

Early this year someone hid a geocache in the castle grounds. Did I really want to have a vertiginous experience to go all the way back up there just to find some tiny bit of treasure? Truth was, no. Especially when someone else got the so-called desirable First To Find. (ie the first person to find the new cache).

But then someone else hid one part way up the hill, and after a few days, still no-one had found it. As I said, Comares is hardly on the road to anywhere.

The pesky road had to be braved again. It wasn't worth it for one cache, but two - and a FTF? Sadly, yes. So off we embarked on the evil drive to the sky. But time does strange things to us. The evil drive was not so bad after all. In fact, I even looked out of the window. It wasn't as bad as I remembered and we chugged gaily upwards. I jumped out happily to find the first cache and was totally delirious to be the first to find, although not so delirious to discover there were no goodies in the tat treasure hidey thing.

Off we went to park at the edge of town to find the other one in the castle. This was a successful day was it not? Partner stayed at the horrendous mirador - my vertigo couldn't quite cope with that - while I skipped off happily around the windy streets saying hola to all and sundry.

My geocatzing dog at the mirador - appears to be asleep here. Five seconds later he wasn't when he spotted the cat under the car.

And in the distance - the sea.

And of course - I couldn't find it. I spent ages traipsing up and down and around the levels of the castle and got nowhere. I tried to look up the geocaching website on the mobile to check out the spoiler pic and couldn't get reception.

I went back to find Top Geocaching Partner. He refused to come, on the grounds there could be cats in the old castle area and Cat Chasing Dog would be On Safari. Cat Chasing Dog emphasised the point by promptly finding one under a car at the mirador, nearly pulling Partner on his back on the urgent cat safari. Daktari?

CCD and TGP stalked off haughtily back towards the cat-free vehicle area. And naturally promptly found another cat. Hey boys, why didn't you come to help me with the cache? There were less cats up there.

I went back up, on the now fruitless search. A total Did Not Find. Well no caches, but found - plenty of cats. The joys of geocatzing. So yet another detour up to the roof of the world is called for to find this dratted cache. Maybe next time I shall take a book, sit in the Landy with naughty Cat Chasing Dog, and let Top Geocaching Partner go and find it. That's assuming he can even find the castle.

The windy windy road down the hill.

A view of the cache spot - coming down to it.

One of soooo many hairpin bends.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Social calling

Our neighbours had a visitor the other day.

But it seemed they were out. Sad monkey ....

.... so he climbed down the drainpipe and off he went - to drive or to walk though?