Wednesday, January 8, 2014

January, Day 8

Feliz Año Nuevo! 

One of my new years' resolutions for 2014 has been to write at least a post a month on here, something I didn't manage last year with the upheaval of moving country. So I'm going to try to get January's post in nice and early. 

So far, 2014, you're all right, you are. It's day 8 and it has only rained once so far here (on the 4th). January days in Barcelona are bright, light until half 5 or so, and the evenings are clear and chilly. We still need duvets and slippers; our tiled floors are unforgiving. We still need a cosy blanket on the sofa. But the temperatures encourage action, so a walk is a good excuse to warm up and see the ocean. The beaches are deserted, except for weekend afternoons when they are teeming with families taking their abuelas out for a stroll, usually accompanied by little white dogs being promenaded in their jumpers or hats (I'm not kidding). It's wonderful to see the sun as high as it is, and skies are generally blue. Having said that, I'm ferreting away with organising visits to schools around the country for work, and so by day 8 I'm already suffering screen burn. The difference here is that when I go out for a walk at lunchtime, I get to go with E, and the sun just happens to be shining. This feels very different to any other January I've known in the UK.

Another new thing has been the feeling that the season of Christmas lasts longer here, largely due to the fact that the 6th January is a national holiday as well (El Día de los Reyes), with a whole set of traditions formerly unknown to me. It has been a beautiful festival to witness, with a fabulous parade around the city on the night of the 5th, incorporating live music, bright costumes and uniquely decorated floats. They transport each of the three Kings (Gaspar, Balthasar & Melchior) and their helpers who throw huge quantities of sweets (12 tons, apparently!) to the crowds as they pass by. The parade offers the opportunity for children to give their wish lists to the Kings, in the hopes that they will receive the gifts they have asked for. If they’ve been good, they might, but if not, they end up with a lump of coal. 

Here are some of the floats, including these mesmerising horse dancers - which were my favourite illumination of the night. They floated gracefully past our window and I felt myself watching openmouthed, so beautiful and ethereal were they. It's a pure kind of magic, that feeling of seeing something new and unexpectedly wonderful for the first time.

Here's wishing you a very happy, healthy, prosperous new year full of childlike wonderment and new things to make you go all slackjawed. Here's to 2014.