Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Moros y Cristianos 2011

Once again the festival of Moros y Cristianos (Moors and Christians, or, in Valenciano, Moros i Cristians) has come to a firework-filled end, after more than a week of street-fighting, more fireworks, re-enactments, street picnics, official and unofficial events, but, perhaps most importantly, of two evenings of costumed parades. This year, these parades took place on 23 and 24 July and were accompanied by a very large number of spectators, lining the route of the main thoroughfare of Guardamar del Segura.

Guardamar is particularly fortunate to have such a thoroughfare, which makes for far better marching conditions than those found in other Spanish towns and villages, where Moros y Cristianos festivities are celebrated, starting in about February and going on until August. Most places are quite old and have narrow, winding streets. Guardamar, having been completely redesigned and rebuit after a devastating earthquake in the ealy 19th century, now boasts a relatively modern, wide and straight central main road, offering a good couple of kilometres along which to parade in fine style.

Unlike a carnival, the Moros y Cristianos parade is concerned more with spectacular costumes than with large floats. The participating groups "belong" to either the Moros or the Cristianos. Each group, or comparsa (I believe there are ten comparsas in Guardamar), is itself divided into lines, or filas, each made up of perhaps six to ten people. Each fila spreads out across the road, shoulder to shoulder, and marches the whole length of the course, accompanied by strident music. Altogether, hundreds of people dress in wonderful costumes and march in this way.

I do not know exactly how many filas there are, but there must be close to a hundred. The whole parade lasts approximately three hours.

To have a better idea of the costumes, see my gallery of photos.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Funeral in Wales

We have just returned from a flying visit to Wales, where we attended the funeral of my second cousin, Phyllis Williams.

Phyllis and her husband belonged to the Plymouth Brethren, so her funeral service took place, not in the church of the Glyn-Taf cemetery and crematorium, but on the mountainside that forms part of that huge cemetery.

Those attending made their way up the steep slopes to the area where the burial would take place and awaited the arrival of the hearse, accompanied by the close family. The coffin was then pulled and pushed with some effort even higher to the actual burial site, with everyone following. We then gathered around the gaping hole, as the attendants lowered the coffin into the grave. Strange, a grave on a steep hillside, as the head end is far deeper than the other extremity, which is, presumably, at at least the minimum required depth.

There was then singing, preaching, praying, more preaching, and more singing. There must have been fifty or sixty people in all, both around the gravesite and further down the slope (not all were able to climb up such a steep hillside). Thank goodness the Welsh weather didn't live up to its reputation and Phyllis was able to be sent off in lovely sunshine that lit up the valley below.

When the interment was completed, we made our way down the slopes to where the cars were parked. Most of us then drove to the Bethesda Church in Rhiwbeina, Cardiff, for another service (the Bethesda Church is more a meeting hall than a church, with no statues, paintings, or any other form of "graven image"; the otherwise plainly painted walls are only relieved by a couple of quotes from the bible, painted in large letters).

Bethesda was chosen instead of Phyllis's normal "assembly" (the term used by Plymouth Brethren to refer to the places where they meet to worship), Treforest, as it was thought that Treforest would be too small. It turned out that Bethesda was also too small, with some 200 people coming along, there was insufficient room inside the hall and some who attended had to follow along outside.

The service consisted of several well sung hymns (what do you expect in Wales?) and a number of prayers and preachings, interspersed with "Amens" and "Praise the Lords" and other appropriate interjections.

After the service there was time for much shaking of hands and other forms of greeting, soon to be followed by refreshments, provided by the ladies of the Assembly. The excess of people made this part rather problematic, especially as the refreshments were served in the small hall behind the larger meeting hall. Still, everyone seems to have been able to get something to eat and the TDC (Tea Distribution Centre) did a fine job, despite the small space which was available for their work.

Phyllis had a good send-off.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Royal Doulton Character Jugs

I used to collect Royal Doulton character jugs. I did so from the mid-1970s until early in the 2000s and eventually built up a collection of over 150 pieces. Sometimes, these jugs are incorrectly referred to as Toby jugs, but there is a difference: a Toby jug shows the full form of a seated person (more information), whereas a character jug is in the form of a bust, modelling only the head and shoulders.

Before moving to Spain, I sold many of my jugs and put the remainder in storage, I have now decided to sell those, too, and to that end have developed a small website. The site shows a complete catalogue of the jugs available, including details of each jug and a contact form for enquiries and orders.

You needn't buy a jug in order to visit the site and you might enjoy looking at the numerous jugs there. They depict well-known historic characters, as well as characters from literature and representations of trades. They include Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln, King Henry VIII, Queen Elizabeth I, a cutler (called Little Mester), a gardener, the Mad Hatter, even Buddy Holly, as well as many other personages.

Visit the website by following this link.