Monday, April 30, 2007

More fire....

The correfocs for the grown ups was last night. Well, really teenagers with almost unlimited access to can imagine that it was louder, faster, edgier, more manic and altogether MORE. Catching the eye of some of these devil dressed guys...they were so excited, exhilarated, thrilled with their power and daring and strength, it gave me insight I have never before managed into so many harsh rights of passage that humans have produced. They were euphoric. Dressed as devils, convincingly, with blackened hands and black lines running from their noses as the soot and smoke congealed there from their breathing....

First they seized the ajuntamin...the town hall....and the devil addressed us from the balcony, humorously I gather, and with lots of bad words wittily tossed in. Then they set it, and the placa alight. There were fireworks dripping flaming shards off the balcony, and one of the only - for me - really scary parts was when some older folks were trying to get out from under it, their uncovered hair was exposed and they weren't moving too fast...

They had a giant paper - mache dragon in front that, to my disappointment, they didn't burn. I think they should have. What the heck are they going to do, store it?

Here the dragon has opened his mouth and there are lit flares inside making it glow and smoke...they also had a PROFUSION of smoke makers, it got pretty darn thick at times...

Then the fire-running was rougher, they squirted it at each other, they threw them on the floor and danced in the sparks. These are not the big bangers that send the fire up high, they are tubes that hose sparks in huge volume....

There was a curtain of fire that they danced under, they had set it up on a wire and the sparks and flames came down like a waterfall that they passed through over and over.

The picture isn't that clear, and we were still pretty far back as you can see, but they are walking about under all that....

Overall though it really looked rather like a mosh pit with fireworks thrown in....I was the only one who wasn't as impressed, I thought they would have managed something with more of a theatrical nature, more of a theme, but the teenage passion for chaos and fire and noise and anarchic chaos rained true here.

That said, they were basically sensible. They had a couple of shopping carts that contained the bulk of the pyrotechnics, they stayed behind the band. There were 4 women with bags slung over their shoulders who were quite near the front, who were handing out the bombs, they had to hang back a bit though because if their bags caught on fire they would be badly hurt. The diablos would run back for more ammunition before running forward again and setting them off.

The drumming was wonderful, it set everyone's feet going, and the band was nothing but drums, beating out insistent and fantastic music. I love drumming, not in the Rock and Roll drum set sense, but drumming in it's own right....and I loved this.

The diablos were excellent about making sure that they were far enough forward that they bagged women with the ammo wouldn't get sparked, and they also slowed down, but this was also somewhat anarchistic....if you got in the fire zone, it was up to you to take care of yourself.

We started out further back in the parade, unsure what would happen, but gradually moved up so we could see something.....We basically tried to hang at the same level as the ammo women, close enough for a good view, but out of the fire zone.

I took fewer pictures, partially because I piggy-backed little one for most of the hour-long parade so she could see. Bits of me are a wee bit sore today, nothing like piggy backing a 50-something pound child and jumping up and down at the same time for an hour....

I also took fewer pictures because in a lot of ways it wasn't much different than the others had been....I did get a few, and one I of the diablos was hanging off the railing on the outside of a wall slinging a flaming umbrella of fire and sparks over his head and over the was quite an image.

I was surprised by how frightened some of the kids were of the diablos...even older kids 11 or 12, mine were universally unafraid and entranced, although little one got a little tired to say the least.

Some of them could breathe fire, which was impressive, but must taste awful, and there were a couple of guys with those flaming slings on chains that you spin to most impressive effect. Image a rock, or sandbag on the end of chains that you can spin and turn and slide over and around your body and set it on fire....we had seen this before, but the girl we saw in George Town was better at it than here....

The youngest and I got back to the placa and pressed to the back, not knowing what the grand finale would bring, but then found ourselves next to the storehouse of ammunition, and though that was probably the spot LEAST likely to get flamed, the repercussions if it did were by far the worst, so we moved....and ended up as minor correfocs ourselves, we were a little too close when they set some off on a suspended rope over our head...little one, well equipped in jeans, socks runners, a heavy sweater with a hood and glasses bent over, and I bent over here...jeans, a wool sweater, turtleneck and scarf over my head....only a few sparks bounced off me and none off niblet, she had turned her back and was hunching over, and I was hunching over her, between her and the flames....I will be purchasing heavy scarfs and proper goggles for the girls for sure...and if they ever want to do the adult one, tight fitting welders goggles, and asbestos or whatever face and hair scarves, I saw one guy get hosed in the problem, but defensive wear is necessary...

They really should have flamed the dragon head, it was the only logical finale, and it seemed kind of child-like to want to save it. The ending was basically just MORE. More noise, more fire, more banging another mosh pit. I was the only family member to be faintly disappointed, everyone else thought it was better than the kid's correfoc, but I thought they could have made it more dramatic than it was. There was no progress or creativity, it was just, just, well, bigger.

This all went on until midnight, at which point we wilted home to bed...I am still blowing my nose black, and when I washed my face last night, the cloth came away green!

They had a Catalan hard rock band in the placa till about 2 am I think as well.

We woke this morning to rain, which may or may not impact on today's plans....more parades, more gegants, a meal in the park....a children's band and a 'futbol' match.....

Did I mention that several people told me that this is the small festa major? It is kind of boring you know, if I really want to see something I should go the the real one in that is a festival!


Paella and sunstroke

You know that saying that only mad dogs and Englishmen stay out in the noon day sun? It's wrong. The Spanish do as well.

Today was the big rice festival, and if there are not some old ladies in the hospital with sunstroke I will be amazed. It was hot. It was windless and it was relentlessly sunny. The Catalan old ladies do not believe in hats. I sat out in the park for about 4 or five hours today, with a hat, sunglasses, something else these ladies scorned and I still have the headache to show for it. That is 5 hours later and after a nap.


It was amazing though. We arrived early to watch the set up and the cooking. They made paella for 1600 people today. Terrie, this one's for you....1600 people. I thought of you all day. Your the only one I know who could pull this off, and do it gracefully. There was wine, water, paella, bread, flan - admittedly packaged- and then coffee, which we ran out of stamina for and were by far the first to go. Several people stopped us to mention that the meal wasn't finished, there was still coffee, but really my brain pan resembled the hotter side of Venus by then.

When we first got there they were just starting to set up, chopping onions, cleaning sepia (cuttlefish) and mussels, chopping parsley, almost a field of it I think, and red peppers. They hadn't levelled the pan or started the fire yet.

Here's the pan they cooked it in, quite something isn't it. The little one said to me that they could cook her in it. I pointed out that they could probably cook her entire class in it.

This is the venue early on, they added at least as many tables and chairs again as you can see.

They got the fire going under the pan with a little oil in it, and then let it get hot. After about 15 min or more they added the oil. That is a 4 liter bottle, I counted 5 of them being poured in and I may have missed some.

This is the sofreigit....the absolutely necessary beginning for most Catalan dishes and definitely for paella. It is onions, red peppers, parsley and garlic. There are other versions, but I believe that is the is cooked down for at least 20 minutes, but usually longer.

Here they are stirring it....that is quite the spoon. It looks a great deal like the oars for the galleys in the marine museum frankly. Indeed it may well have started as the oars from the local fishing vessels....thought they also may have come from old bread ovens...they have tools like that for bread, and the name escapes me. Something like slips...or slides?

A small part of the mussel cleaning crew, there were about 10 of them, although more came later, and they were at it for at least 2 hours. In full sun. Eeeeh gads.

They were passing this around and it seemed to be bottomless. It must have been even hotter by the pan.

Un cervesa por favor...

Now they have added most of the meat. We had sausages, meat, I think beef, cuttle fish, squid, rabbit and chicken. The mussels went in later. As a gesture towards vegetables there were some peas in it, and of course pureed tomatoes.

The place is filling up...they put out still more tables, and we were not one of the people with umbrellas. *gack* They went around at about this point and gave every group two bottles of water and one of wine. A pretty sensible approach I thought. We brought our wine home, with only the man to tackle it, we decided that would be best. The water was welcome though. Some of these people were obviously seasoned veterans at this, and had umbrellas, and holders and vegetables and salads.....

Now they have added the water and they are bringing it up to heat before adding the rice. The idea of cooking for this sort of a crowd over an open fire brings me to my knees. I am so bad at it, and so inexperienced, I would be so unsure that it would turn out well...I mean imagine burning it, or under cooking it, or worse still, giving food poisoning to 1600 people. They made it look easy though.

A close up of the contents of the pan....looks like a real witches brew...

In goes the rice. They poured in at least eight boxes this size. I will confess I lost count though. I don't know how many tens of pounds of rice that is.

I have to confess that by the time we got the food I forgot to take a picture of the finished product. About thirty minutes before the food was ready to be served, there was some sort of cattle call that we missed and most of the crowd formed a massive line, some of them being civilised about it, and most of them elbowing in and brazenly butting the line. I was amazed that nobody seemed to get upset. I was so horrified by the whole thing that we broke it to the kids that they might not get to eat any at all I was so unwilling to get into the middle of all that, instead if we didn't get any we would go to a local restaurant and have a treat before going home. After a while though the line opened up and most of the most maleducat - bad educated would be the translation, but it is ruder, more like 'rude pigs' had gone through it turned into a fast enough moving mass that I was willing to try. I got in the line, and then the man joined me near the front. There was only about 5 minutes of full body squash with people all around. One way to get intimate with a lot of Catalans in a hurry, and then we were squirted out the other side with our food which was good. Not the best I'd had, but definitely good.

We were frankly wilting by then, and packed up to head home when a couple of kids from the youngest's class showed up and hung around tongue-tied. That led us to wait long enough to realise that flan was coming. We waited and ate that. We were approaching death from heat stroke by this point, the Catalans however were settling in for a chatty and leisurely meal. We gave up. The only ones to go. The man stayed with youngest so she could play with her friends, and eldest and I bailed. Explaining repeatedly that we didn't want coffee...I almost stayed to see how they were going to serve 1600 picky coffee drinkers at the same time. There were not going to be any of those big urns of perc. like N. Am. ah well.

Tonight we have another correfoc, this one for adults...starts at 10 pm *sob* followed by a band until midnight...then another band in another venue until dawn, at which point they will be handing out coca - a kind of cake - to everyone left standing. Sorry folks, but we are skipping this, although I can hear the band warming up right now.

More tomorrow.

I am getting pretty tired.

Oh, I almost forgot, Chuck and I saw the sweetest little rabbit up in the mountains this morning...perfectly still until he saw that we were both staring then off he went. No camera with me, but all told, there are enough pictures here as it is.

Correfocs infantile

Correfocs infantile means children's fire running. That is what it was as well. Sort of. They were running through giant sparklers in fact. Really giant sparklers. There were drums banging and a most impressive devil costume that the eldest is going to wear for Halloween next year. There were some quite tiny children in there, one looked only about three...

It all started off on one of the streets, there were several older people, mid-twenties that were marshaling the children and handing out and lighting their fireworks, which kept a level of order to the process...the official correfocs were in costumes made of a special material, they had hoods, their hair tied back, cloths over their faces and some sported goggles. There were a bunch of other kids that were in regular clothes with baseball hats and kerchiefs. These were simply runners. It was not half as dangerous as it sounds. Well it probably was, but they pulled it off well....

They got to a wider placetta kind of job, and stopped allowing more and more people to run in and out of the fireworks and dance under them. Eldest badly wants to do this next year. I will be purchasing goggles in the summer I think.

WE then proceeded down several streets, all narrow and high walled, the people who live and work there had covered all of their windows with cardboard to prevent damage. By now the fireworks themselves are well ahead trailing the drumming band and the large crowd of people. It felt really very medieval, like we were truly trying to drum out the devil, or he had seized control for a while. Then you looked at the sweet smiling faces of the kids, and perspective returned.

When we got to the main placa strings of fireworks went off over head, and the children shot off some larger ones in choreographed patterns, choreographed so that none of them aimed at anyone.

The kids all had a good rowdy yelling play in the placa afterwards. Younger was distressed to hear that they have a new regulation stating that the children have to be at least 10 to be in the correfoc. Amazing.

Today, a big Paella festival in the park, and then more correfocs, this time for adults in the night. Should be bigger, louder and edgier.

I asked one of the women here if she had run the correfoc when she was a child, but she said no, because it was something that had been done historically, and died out, and they only revived it about 5 or 6 years ago for both the adults and children.

I could not gather how long ago this was a tradition, but the devil and the drums and the fireworks...the poles the children carried the fireworks on were all shaped like a cross as well.

Quite spectacular.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Snail racing!

This afternoon, after recovery time at home, we were off to a children's spectacle...I translate directly. This was a one man clown show. He was a singularly awful juggler, especially considering that this is a grown man making a living at it, although he is quite good at riding a unicycle, and the kids had a good laugh. So did I. The man went up to the opening of the museum after this, we passed and waited for the big event of the afternoon, the CORSE DE CARGOLLS!!!!

A snail race! I asked why they were doing this, I was told that it was because someone thought of it, because it's funny and it's certainly is.

This is the race course, one lane with high sides for each. I never figured out why there is such a large gap in the middle, except maybe to try to accommodate the 'owners' of the snails.

The competitors arrive.....not much of a team bus for these guys-gals:

Snail, meet your manager..

Now, we need a good show name for you, a marketable one.......hmmm......King Kong...

They're in the starting blocks....

This event draws a pretty reasonable crowd. Not quite like the Castellers, but still....

Here's some nice lettuce....King Kong won in the end.

After all this excitement which I will admit we abandoned half way through and went to the art exhibit put on in the Cultural center. The show consisted of the work of local artist, and the quality was, well, uneven. It was interesting anyway.

We headed towards home after this, and were debating going up to the museum when the youngest realised that Barca was playing in the local bar, so instead she and I went to the bar and watched part of the game. I had a coffee to pay for the seat and Barca was up 1-0 when we left....

It was a pretty good game too, although it isn't hard to overstretch my understanding of the rules...why do they sometimes get a penalty kick, others a card, and others time added on to the half?????



I. Do. Not. Have. The. Stamina. For. This.

Ok, I am tired and sunburnt and my butt is sore but this has been amazing.

We left this morning under overcast skies, and it was cool, so no sunscreen, and then in the midst of it all while we were sitting on the church stairs for the best view, the sun came out. The sound of wimpy Anglos skin being fried should echo around right about now....and those stairs were some hard boys...

Now I will stop whining. This was amazing, and kind of scary. There are two teams, one in Blue and one in pinkish. The ones in blue were rock solid and very impressive. The ones in pink however trembled and swayed mightily. Those are very young girls up at the top of those towers, they are about 8. You might notice that they are wearing helmets. This is new as last year an 11 year old girl died when she fell from the top of a tower. This is a significantly dangerous sport. They practice three times a week, every week and go to competitions and exhibitions all over Catalonia. Little one said she'd like to do it. I am pretty adventurous, but that no whipped out of my mouth pretty quick.

When she is big enough to be halfway down the pack, then maybe, but NOT NOW.

This fellow is putting on the wide cloth belt that they all wear. It is part uniform, mostly support for their backs and kidneys...the voyageurs wore similar gear, and it also forms the ladder and hand hold for the climbers. I also saw that someone had stored their smokes there as well. You can see the tension that he is putting on it as he walks round and round winding himself into it. It has to be TIGHT.

This is one of the girls headed for the top, they are quite the little monkeys, but you can see how they use the belts to climb. They have to be very focused. They don't even turn their heads from side to side. If they did, they might unbalance the entire edifice.


Here she is at the top. The tower is not finished until the child at the top blows a kiss and a wave.

To give you a little perspective. This is a seven and four. There are four people in the main levels, and they get seven people high. The child is still climbing. I am glad to say that no one was injured today. Last years death was the first in twenty years.

This is the other team, you can see the next layer of people clambering up into position. They have to do it entirely in time.

This is a two and six or seven. They get up pretty high. The most difficult I have heard of was a one and ten. Yup, ten people standing one on top of the other with no other support. They didn't do that here.

This was four singles put together. The highest child in blue was lifted off the top onto the balcony in just one moment, after all four towers were complete.

After it was over the served pica-picas, little tapas bits and pieces, beer, pop, water, chips, olives, artichoke hearts, crackers....and this beer was coming from a porro, they are quite sanitary for these events, no one's mouth touches the spout. You would think it might have an impact on the fizz though.

I took WAY more photos several of them are different towers being erected in sequence, the album is listed in the column on the right, and here is a link to the Castelles album here.

We are back home to eat lunch at 3pm, recuperate before today's museum opening, snail race and children's fire run....*gasp*

Gegants and parades and fire

Last night was another big evening, I am going to have to post several times daily to try to keep up with these parties....

First we headed to the opening of an exhibition of local painters, but, well, it didn't open before the next event so we bailed and headed over to the park the racing had been in. The Gegants were there as well as bands of musicians playing traditional Catalan music. I tried to take a video with the camera but I cannot figure out how to download it...that manual is en Francaise, n'est pas?

I posted some of the photos into the albums you can access for the really die-hard, but here is the parade of neighbours going through town. There were three seperate parades, each with their own float. We got the biggest Gegants in our neighbourhood. These weigh 80 to 95 pounds or kilos, I am not sure although the difference is significant, and the guys carrying them dance to the music the whole way. They are pretty sweaty when they emerge. The three parades each follow seperate routes and get larger and larger as they go on, picking up people from the neighbourhoods they go through.

One of the other parades had the smaller gegants, but the third had this float for the 'diables'....

And this is what happened in the placa when they got there....

Those are kids dancing in that and holding the flaming torches. They are wearing quite heavy costumes which would afford them some protection, and the costumes have heavy hoods which would keep their hair from incinerating...but....

Tonight is the correfoc infantile. Yup, fire-running for kids. You read that right. I think we will plead foreignness on this one and just watch this year. Never thought I would see those words all together in one sentence.

The kids had a fantastic time in the placa with a bunch of their friends playing a variety of run and scream games, and then they settled into this Catalan folk dance that they all played for at least an hour. It involved singing a song, of course, and they span around in circles holding hands, quite quickly, and then at some unseen signal, presumably a particular line in the song, the circle broke up and they all wove in and out with each other giggling madly when they made mistakes.

Eventually they got up on the platform and played it, I was trying not to watch , because it was only a matter of time till one of them fell off. It was about 4 feet high and didn't have a rail on any side. *gulp* We managed to leave before anyone got hurt.

This is the kids dancing....

The man went into the church as well, this is theoretically a Christian celebration. The King and Queen were in there and did a dance, and all the roses that were brought along were brought into the church as well. They also opened the closet/cupboard/reliquary where the local martyred Saints bones are, although they are actually from Sardinia which was once Catalan. Several people told me that it was quite beautiful, although I didn't go in. Instead I stayed out in the Placa with the kids and had laborious conversations with some of the folks we know here.

Today we have Castallers, they climb one on top of another and again and again, also snail races, and the children's fire run....more later.

Saturday, April 28, 2007


If you cannot handle maternal bragging, you should just leave RIGHT now, because that is going to be the bulk of the post.

This morning was the opening event of the big festival this weekend, an orienteering foot race that the man was planning on entering, but as all of our compasses, we only own about 10, are either in Florida or the basement in Canada, and he had never done this before he wasn't anticipating brilliance. He went off in the morning to register, and ended up in the short course, only about 3 or 4k in the city, and much simpler from an orienteering perspective as it is all in town, and there is a fixed route.

We all got organised to go and cheer him on, I went down with the dog and the kids, and the camera, and my red straw cowboy hat - let me tell you I STAND OUT in the crowd in that - and water...blahblahblah. It turns out that sweet husband's start isn't for an hour and a half, but we stick around to watch the starts of the other folks. Have you even been to an orienteering race? Well, the start is not, um, dramatic. Picture a bunch of people in fairly normal clothing standing around joking in a ragged sort of line in a park with some guy in the background periodically saying, 30 seconds, 20 seconds, 10 seconds, now and he blows a whistle. At this point every one leans over casually, picks up their map, takes a symbolic step or two forward and stares intently at the map. One or two people hare out of the starting area, and I assume stop around the corner to study. Gradually in dribs and drabs they head off into the distance. These faster runners have a number of targets they have to get to, but they can do it in any order they want, so they need to stand around a route plan a bit...

It looks kinda like this:

Well, more and more people go away, and we are still sitting there...eventually they announce that they are going to start the youths, the man seems to have ended up in this field. At a spry 50 this is a bit of a stretch, but he is game. Then we see the first toddlers start. I am not kidding, a couple with a pair of toddlers are doing the route...I assume a lot of carrying will be involved as this is three to four kilometers. At this point the man decides that maybe we should all do it as a family...looks good to me, so he asks if we can, and sure enough, no problem!

Well, the girls and I are not really dressed for this event, but no problemo, too late to go to the john, which eldest and I both need to do, but that's OK. We're off, I however am a bit of an anchor for the proceedings. You see, I am not really a runner at the best of times. Indeed I am not at all, and I am now wearing sandals, carrying the camera in it's normal case which is banging relentlessly against my hip, I am also dealing with the dog, who is not used to this running thing, and hauling a two liter bottle of water. Shall we say that I am bringing up the rear, but we hit the first four stops and then realise that the next one is actually pretty far away, and I have already walked out there before today and frankly have NO desire to do so again. Eldest who is wearing crocs, needs to use the facilities and is not a keen runner, and I back out. Youngest and the man rabbit off. The man is well equipped for this, you know, he actually has running shoes on, and is carrying the map, and is actually fit enough to complete the course. Youngest has youth and energy on her side, and a basically competitive attitude although she is handicapped by her footwear, last years sandals that were never comfy, and which her toes now hang over the end of. I know, neglectful mother, in my defense we did go on Thursday to the only shoe store in town with kids shoes, and there was nothing there. I also offered to go to a bigger town on Friday with niblet, but she didn't want to.

Eldest and I, after our graceful retirement from the race, head home where we both go to the loo, the dog gets a drink, and I pick up jackets for everyone. Then to the market for some salami and the baker for a couple of baguettes, and down to the course to discover that our incredibly fleet family members have already finished and we weren't there to cheer them on. WOW. Little one is FAST!

They finished 12th out of 42 overall as in men, women and children in their 4k race, and many of the participants, indeed most of them were 16 to 20. The first three people in both the women's and men's categories were in their late teens to early twenties, so if I may say so, this was a very impressive performance on the part of the eight year old. Looking at the times, the man figures he could have won the course, the kids would have beat him if it was a straight race, but the kids weren't very good at reading the map and kept getting lost.

We saw this ENORMOUS bumble bee while we were waiting:

One other strange cultural moment was that as we settled in to eat our sandwiches in the park waiting for the prize giving, everyone was looking at us strangely, and no one else was eating. It was noon. Exactly. It looked like a picnic without the food.

Catalans eat lunch MUCH later.

After we left we went by the placa where there had been a party going on as well. There had been a band that I swear was playing bluegrass music with Catalan lyrics. I heard 'Puff the magic dragon' and that song that goes "I never knew just what it was, and I guess I never will'. The other thing that was going on was the bringing out of the gegants who had been restored....

Tonight and I think tomorrow as well they are going to be parading around the town. They are worn by large men who stand inside under the skirts, you can see the panels where they can see out...There were also two kids dressed like the King and Queen...

The gegants are quite traditional, and their presence in the Catalan tradition was in the past supported by the wealthy merchant classes. The textile industry was, until recently, probably fairly described as the cornerstone of the Catalan economy, and in the past all the different companies would donate costumes for the gegants made of their most sumptuous materials and dressed in the most up to date styles as a form of advertising as well as good will.

There is much more going on tonight, several parades. I don't know how the camera and I will fair in the lower light conditions, we'll have to see.

Pretty interesting so far.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Hello soccer fans....

Twiglet, the man and I all went out for dinner last night to the local bar/restaurant, and while we were there, a soccer fan was born. Oh my....they turned on the TV, which always has a certain fascinating novelty factor for my kids, and there was the game, Espanyol playing Bremen....little one got RIGHT into it, cheering when they scored and all. This morning at breakfast she asked if I could put on the computer so we could watch another game.


Smallest munchkin and I were supposed to go into BCN to the zoo today, but she admitted that really, she didn't want to. Well, since it was supposed to be a treat for her, we didn't. Instead she wanted to go to the candy store (what a surprise) and as I was also after one small purchase, that seemed OK.

While I love Barcelona, there is a very large problem with pick-pockets there and camera thieves, and now that I have this handy-dandy new camera that has allowed me to bore all of you with tons of photos, I don't really want it lifted. Nor do I feel like spending all of my time hugging the d*mn thing to my body I was after a camera bag that didn't look like a camera bag, that I could sling over my arm and still hold a child's hand, and NO one would suspect held a camera. Something....goofy. But not so goofy that my children would be too mortified to walk with me. I think I found a pretty good it is:

It is definitely goofy, and it certainly doesn't scream out, "Look at this expensive camera that I am paying absolutely NO attention to whatsoever while my child here is FREAKING OUT completely!"

I cut a bit of closed cell foam out of the dog's bed - a martyr to the cause - packed in an old dead sponge and a couple of pairs of socks that have holes in them, and it is pretty nifty.

While the youngest and I were waiting for the candy store to open, I saw these, which I had been meaning to talk about for a while.

Here's a close up. They are water jugs tied in place. They place them at the base of trees, which initially led us to think that they were some sort of trickle feed for the trees that some folks had put out, but they are also at the corners and against posts.

Finally, I found someone to ask. They are to keep dogs from peeing on the trees or bushes, or posts, or doorways. I suppose it gets the dogs to pee further out, and once you know about the system, I suppose it lets you know that the people who live there don't want you to let your dog pee there. To my mind, I think a little dog pee would be a lot less ugly than the aging water jugs. But that's just me I guess.

Niblet and I had to wait around for the candy store to eight year old's definition of eternity, the time between when the candy store is supposed to open, and when it does seven minutes later.... while we were waiting though the grown up got so that she wanted something a little sweet as well, and since there is this beautiful bakery next door, we went in and I got this....

You can get an idea of the size of that as I photographed it on my lap, those are my knees peeking out from the end of it. It is bread dough sweetened and rolled very thin, covered with sugar and sliced almonds, and it looks and tastes like it has been baked, there are thin crispy layers that break off and melt in your mouth, but it was quite greasy, not gross greasy, but there were oil marks on the paper, which implied either very heavy greasing of the pan, my guess, or a deep fry and then bake process. Either way it was quite delicious.

Eldest child returns this afternoon, grubby and grumpy and exhausted. It will be great to have her back. Today I also have to go into work to get paid, and the final event on the agenda is English day with the lady I am practicing English/Catalan with.

Tomorrow the man is going to run in a race, and the festivities begin. Brace yourselves for far too many photos....