semana santa is over now and we are back to an almost normal working week, although some businesses take the Monday off too, but that is discretionary. on Friday evening I went to see the procession after the long service in St Mateo in Montanchez.

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in fact it was very subdued, no band, no pointed hats, and very very cold, at dusk. Montanchez is seven hundred metres above sea level, three hundred metres higher than the surrounding plains and very much exposed to north-easterly wind from the cold dry central highlands of Spain.

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I don’t know what proportion of Montanchegans were there, but it seems that the Catholic Church has a much bigger hold on people’s lives here than the various protestant churches, for example, in rural Norfolk. of course in Spain, Sundays are still sacrosanct, nothing is open; many sacred rulings are still part of the law of the land.

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we fled the cold and spent the rest of the evening in one of the bars around the plaza. certainly quite a large number of locals were being fairly godless in the warm, although the TV was showing various processions from around Spain, and the lights were off a lot of the time.

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Sunday afternoon; a total contrast, we were invited for English Sunday lunch improvised in a wonderful pool shack, which is the first building, along with the pool, on a beautiful 2 hectare finca which I have visited before. It has sufficient mod cons for camping, and is really quite luxurious; a wonderful family holiday place.

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Tilda and Sal came along too, and were very laid back, except that T stole a hot cross bun, and ate it very delicately bit by bit.

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it was sunny with a little edge, a cold wind, and we ate under cover. I envy them their wild lavender which is everywhere, but not on my finca, and they envy me my olive trees. J and H have one transplanted this year near the pool, so it is mostly a stump with a few twigs and will be a while before it affords any shade or fruit.

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we sat outside and drank coffee afterwards, and Sal sat in the middle of the circle, rather pleased with his central position, I think.

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J has a very nice vintage bike, which I admired, I must say I wouldn’t fancy riding it on their track which is a mixture of loose sand, grit, and major boulders. I got my car stuck coming down it; I picked the wrong side of a gigantic buried boulder, my back wheel caught in a trough between two stones, and needed a bit of a push to get it out.

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the whole finca is very rocky and rough, climbing up behind the pool house to a hill of huge boulders and oak trees, with great views of the sierra. lower down there are huge standing stones and horizontal slabs, all covered in moss and lichens.
here the nightingales sing day and night, echoing from the steep slope of the sierra. sitting in the sun outside the kitchen door for a late breakfast one is immersed in bird song; nightingales along with the hoopoes’ low hoop-oop-oop-oop, cuckoos, blackbirds, black caps and nuthatches, and some very loud sparrow cheeping; it is quite wonderful. the pool is completely full, yesterday twenty eight thousand litres were delivered and today the same. now we are ready for the final planting.

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