Colder days in Seville are settling down inside the flaky walls of our house. Banisters are clammy to the touch in the middle of the night (I go walking in my sleep...oh, that song!). The windows that never quite fit their aluminium frames are forbidding places to sit near, unless armed and legged with chunky blankets bought from large multinational Scandinavian furniture companies, where the cold is part of the natural order of things. The occasional drizzle is welcome, here, as it seems to release a touch of warmth, and loitering on the street is marginally more attractive than huddling by whirring electric radiators in the confines of our white tiled home. The Big Chill.
Actually, it’s not big at all, and who am I to whinge, coming from that great lump of sleety granite, Glasgow. Childhood memories of snowmen and jingle bells are more than a touch disneyfied if compared with the reality of having to slide about in the ruts left by the traffic, ruts tinted a dark, evil shade of lead grey by the dirt and grime. To hear sleighbells in the sleet was a line we never sang but was part of reality, and Jack Frost was the chap - probably English, the cad - who breathed icy doilies on our uninsulated windows, double glazing being a thing of the future. Heavy, lined velvet curtains kept the four-month long night out. Or was it five months?
So. Seville. The halls here are truly decked with oranges, it not being just a romantic rumour, and holly being a myth lurking in them thar hills. The chill can be partially dispelled by some of the roast chestnuts on sale in the streets, with the remaining vestiges banished by a glass of sweet, syrupy wine from a barrel with La Gitana smiling on the front. In a bar, of course; we don't do barrels in the house. Shops trawl for Christmas custom here, just as they do in Britain, but somehow the hysteria in the shopping centre is slightly more bearable without frozen toes and frost bitten fingers thrust into soggy mittens. I haven’t had to scrape frost off my windscreen since I left Catalunya.
My blog has been abandoned since, oh, July perhaps? Life sped up and is still gallivanting at a wild pace. Work, for the most part. A large amount of work, which I thoroughly enjoy, although it takes far too much time away from my children and from my life-in-general. This week, I intend to sweep the computer aside with a heave and a huff, and take the boys into the centre to see 'Rodin in the street'. 'En la calle', that is. The Thinker is currently contemplating the over-filigreed work on the Town Hall in Plaza Nueva. “Bugger me backwards; they obviously started to run out of puff – look at them windows!” he probably muses. Windows which got gradually more austere as they went along. Or perhaps they got gradually more ornate? Boredom set in, as 18th century masons’ labourers dangled on the façade, and, with a flourish of whatever instrument masons’ labourers use, they added ‘one of them, three of they, half a dozen thingummies and a great big wotsit. How does that look? Oops. Never mind, no-one'll notice this side of the next millennium'. So we’re going to go and see the Thinker thinking, though I’m not sure one can actually see thinking. You can hear it when people talk to themselves, but sculptures rarely talk.
Mm. Seville in winter. My neighbourhood with its ladies on greased zimmers speeding to get home to the warmth of the coals under the table. The greengrocers calling out the joys of mandarins and grapes, chestnuts and mushrooms; the warmth of the crowded bakery as people shove into the queue to move away from the open shop-front. The festive lights, as yet unlit, suspended over the main avenue like old diamond necklaces in need of a polish. The toyshop and the delicatessen tarted up like panto dames. The stallholders deeply embedded in their sheepskin jackets, like exotic Del Boys, while their corresponding Rodneys unload plants, football shirts, pomegranates and belts from the backs of double-parked vans. Business as usual here in the barrio. Oh yes. Who needs sleet?