what i love about our town is that it still keeps its traditions – all through the year, there are numerous events and dates that not only attract a tourist trade to an area where there is massive unemployment, but is also totally inclusive of the local community; from cycle races, candlelit nights, flea markets, food festivals and of course the annual 2 week feria in august, which brings the whole community together night after night. last night we watched the local young girls, plus one cute little boy, do an evening of flamenco dancing in the main square, watched by tens of grannies and families. at midnight, you still have the youth and the old sitting side by side with their jamon and sherry in hand watching as the world is ablaze with the colour of the andalucian sounds and clapping of children having fun.
today i visited the wonderful chelsea physic garden – a secret garden right in the centre of chelsea; established since 1673, its an independent charity that cultivates and promotes the importance of plants dedicated to the wellbeing of humankind. a unique collection of over 5000 edible plants, all housed within the beautiful gardens, and conservatories, its a peaceful oasis to find tranquility. you can take lunch or afternoon tea there – its definitely worth it. i particularly loved the victorian greenhouses, they were like little miniatures of the grand ones at kew gardens.
sadly my visit was in honour of my beautiful friend Carolyn – a fitting location to celebrate her life with all her friends and family – in the sanctuary of natures most precious gifts – Carolyn loved flowers and nature and i know that she would have loved this unique and special place, it reflected her character so perfectly..so now my memories of her will always be reminded by my first visit to this harmonious garden.
so we arrived in vejer to the celebration of ‘corpus christi’ in town, and ended our trip with ‘noches de velas’ – an amazing fete of hanging hundreds of candles around the streets of the old town and especially in the main square, plaza espana – accompanied by a group of singers sat in the middle of the candles. what a splendid sight, though marred by the hundreds of visitors visiting the town to catch the atmosphere – all the street lights were turned off, so the town looked romantically medieval. how lovely it would have been to have had the town candlelit minus all the visitors. vejer definitely knows how to do a festival!
made it to the flower show -always incredibly busy when you first go in, but much more comfortable and less crowded as the early evening draws in. i always get garden envy – wondering why my tiny little plot is not as neat or bursting with flowers as these are, but then tell myself that these are show gardens intended to entice you. so much inspiration – from sheds, to pots, to meadows and flowers – there was definitely a more wild flowers meadow feel with beautiful rich tones of burnt orange and rust.
earlier this week we went to see branford marsalis at the union chapel – what an amazing venue! and what an unusual evening, branford played solo sax for an hour and half – some were classical pieces, some were jazzy, and some were quite strange wanderings into almost sci fi film track sounding music….. all adds to my education of jazz musicians…….
churches now have to be very flexible with their uses – with high maintenance costs, they are all opening their doors to help pay the bills. the actors church, st paul’s church, in covent garden has its own theatre company, so look out for future productions. the garden is haven in the midst of the bustle of the market .
its lovely to walk around smithfields on a sunday when its quiet and explore – its strange how tranquil parts of london become on a weekend; but if you are there in the week, its good to visit st bartholomew the great – its a beautiful old church originating from the 12C – the cafe is open for breakfast and some evenings its open for cocktails – its very atmospheric! i saw a spectacular theatre performance there, so keep an eye out for events that go on there.
st lukes church in old street is a hawksmoor church that also holds lot of concerts and workshops, and its where the london symphony orchestra hold their rehearsals. natalie (alfie’s girlfriend) actually sang a solo there recently with the camden youth jazz band.
st pancras old church, which has been a place of worship since the 4th century, is another atmospheric church that holds concerts.
i first saw st barnabas church in soho recently and was taken back by this gem of a church right in the busy centre; its attached to a member’s club now, but non profit making aiding homeless people into work; there is also the added benefit of a beautiful garden.
if you are in and around the area of vejer del la fronterra, then you must visit the annual april feria that occurs 10 days after easter. its on this weekend whilst i am here. its a mini version of the seville feria, which if you have never seen is just spectacular, horses and carriages, flamenco dresses and full of colour and splendour; vejer’s feria is held in the new town, which is only 15 mins walk from my house, but mainly consists of a few casitas (tents for eating drinking and dancing) and an enormous fairground! but for 4 nights there will be numerous flamenco shows and horse riding events. the local school children clamber on their floats and there is a procession through the old town to the new town – there are so many festival days in spain, you need to check the calendars before you go so that you can watch them – there is a feria in almost every town in spain at some time of the year – its what makes Spain a wonderful country still steeped in tradition and fun.
the hindu festival of colours known as the holi celebrations marks the advent of spring and is currently being celebrated – amazing colour everywhere.