Project Sunday – 1

Lake Negratin

Lake Negratin

Well, what is this about.
Along with all my other work on this blog I decided to set myself a small project by taking a photo and blogging about it every Sunday of 2013. Sounds easy? well to be honest I dont think it is. Not as difficult as doing it 365 days or one a day but difficult nevertheless. The committment is more than what you think, finding a suitable subject and creating an image of it, no matter what is going on in you life. In fact today has been a tough day for me as I suffer from Pancreatitis and had an attack during the night. It is really painful and I got no sleep at all and was sick for about 8 hours. Nearly ended up in hospital again but as I am here in Spain and despite the fact that I would probably get better service here than in the UK (I have been waiting for an operation at Swindon GWH for 8 months) I just sat it out and eventually it ended. So today was a chilled day but took a drive down to the Lake to take a few shots.

The image is at Lake Negratin which is one of the many lakes in the Granada Province of Andalucia. It is about 4 minutes drive from the house and you can see it from the house, it is lovely. Especially on a day like today which was very warm and sunny but today is Ephiphany (see my last blog post).

Freila Three Kings Procession Andalucia Spain

Late this afternoon all over Spain the Three Kings Procession took place. I had the privilage of taking part in the procession in the tiny rural village of Freila in Andalucia. It has to be pointed out that this procession is not put on for the tourist, it is to mark 12th night and Epiphany tomorrow and in the case of Freila is very authentic. The three Kings travelled around the village on the back of a tractor and distributed sweets and presents to children (and adults) of the village.
Tonight all the children have to clean their shoes and leave them at the door so that the Three Kings can deliver their presents. The children then open them all in the morning, much like Christmas morning.

It was so nice to see that despite the economic problems that Spain is suffering that traditions like this continue and are very well supported.

An Evening of Flamenco in Freila

Many people get the opportunity to watch a ‘flamenco show’ when on holiday in Spain, although some are often ‘produced’ with the tourist in mind and don’t always reflect the true passion of the dance and the music. Freila is a small, rural, Andalucian village, with it’s roots truly embedded in Flamenco. Last night I had the opportunity to join the locals in the village to watch a concert of Flamenco music and dance. The main artist was Elena Romera, a professional Flamenco singer and dancer based in Granada. The difference was that Elena was born, and grew up in Freila, in fact her mother and father still live here and her father (a builder) actually built my girlfriends house. She was delighted to perform in her home village, no more so than the local villagers who welcomed her in true Freilican style. A wonderful evening of song, dance, colour, costumes and real Andalucian Flamenco.

The Pain in Spain …….

Well, this isn´t a blog about news in Swindon but the other place I spend a lot of time. My girlfriend lives in a small village in rural Andalucia, Spain called Freila. It is not the Spain of tourists and English bars, but one where there are very few other English people and you really need to be able to speak Spanish. In England we hear all about how the Spanish are having it really hard at the moment. Well it is true. There is a very limited social welfare system here in Spain and it is very easy and very common for people here to have absolutely no income whatsoever nor any benefits. Entire families are thrown out on to the streets and it is only because it is a very family orientated society and families look after each other that most are just about surviving. But what about those who have no family. Suicides have already taken place by some of the homeless.
The photos above are just a small view of what is happening. The mainstay of the local income has been hardhit by the early heavy rains and the intense heat of the summer leading to shrivelled and dry olives. Some small land owners are not harvesting their olives at all as the sale price is so low it is not economically worth it and so the olives are left to rot on the trees. Also even in a tiny rural village like Freila where houses and caves are very cheap, they are not selling or being left half way through being built.
In England we get the impression that all Spaniards live on the coast, own bars or hotels and earn quite a lot of money from tourists. That is definitely not my experience of what is going on over here.

12-12-12 A cold and frosty day in Swindon

I thought I would celebrate 12-12-12 (lets face it I am not going to be around in 89 years for the next one)!!!! by going out into a Cold and Frosty Coate Water and take some images. It was a lovely walk around. I met lots of different people. One who was getting in and out of the water carrying out an inspection on the bridge. He had of course a team of people with him for health and safety ( supplying hot coffee)!!! He was a nice chap, not only did he enjoy his job but was interested in photography and was more than happy to pose for me. I also met a chap feeding the birds. They must have been really hungry as they were giving him a real hard time trying to get to the food. They must be struggling a bit at the moment.
All in all a nice but cold couple of hours.

Jahmene Douglas and Nicole Scherzinger switch on Swindon Xmas Lights

Tonight upto an estimated 28,000 people squeezed into or as close as they could get to Wharf Green in the Swindon Town Centre for the switching on of the Christmas Lights. Why so many. Well They were switched on by Swindons very own Jahmene Douglas the X Factor finalist. Along with Jahmene his friend and mentor Nicole Scherzinger spent time on stage. Jahmene switched on the lights with the help of several others including many of the local Olympic Torch bearers, footballers from Swindon Town Football Club and the manager of Swindon Wildcats and many others.
Jahmene went on to sing three songs and I have to say he was very good, he sounded as good singing live as he does on the TV which is quite rare these days.
I also have to say that I think I have never ever seen so many people turn out for an event in Swindon, therefore I have to applaud Kirsty Heber-Smith who was the event organizer and compare. And InSwindon for putting it on. Well done guys.

A good night for Swindon I think.

Swindon Old Town Xmas Lights Switch On

On a freezing cold night several local celebrities came out to switch on the Swindon Old Town Christmas Lights. These included Mayor Mick Bray, Jo Ingles the TV Vet, Jonas Hogg and Ryan Aldrige of the Swindon Wildcats, Laura Varnham as Princess Jasmine from the panto Aladdin, a number of players from Swindon Town Football Club. The show was compared by Ben Atkinson from JackFM. On stage entertainment was provided by the Tanwood Dancers and off stage amongst others the Wroughton Silver Band. There was a really good turn out with Wood street and the surrounded area packed with revellers.