Happy new year

Traditionally it’s downtime At Maria’s during January – everyone catching their breath after December’s hectic round of Fiesta Evenings, Wine Tasting, catering for Christmas parties, preparing hampers…but like everyone and everything else, this January is very different.

M: “At least we had a little wine tasting! It was a lovely, lovely evening – not so many people, but we had a really, totally, lovely evening. The best we could make it, no?”

H: “Yep, we certainly did.” There was nothing little about the evening, six courses, six wines and two sherries to taste! “I loved it, can’t believe you converted me to smoked salmon!”

M: “Ha Ha ha. You are very strange, no liking fish!.”

H: “That, I am Maria!”

M: “This time last year I was back in Alberique, the sun was shining, you were on the plane… I think you bought the storm with you. Oh the snow, you remember? I did not believe it, we woke up in Vallada and it had snowed! And the rain, when we went up to the mountains? We have never see anything like that! Not in ten years!

“It was so cold. Like here today, it is so cold!”

H: “It’s freezing! We’ll be putting brandy in our coffee, if it gets much colder, just like your nephew did when we went to his bar to get out of that rain!”

M: “Ha ha! Yes Brandy with everything! That is the Spanish way! Coffee and brandy, even if they aren’t drinkers! They have a little Carajillo. Cara-ji-llo, it is coffee but you put a brandy in, with sugar, OK, and then you put hot coffee, see, and that is a Carajillo.

H: “Don’t forget to set fire to it too!”

M “Yes of course, the fire, never forget the fire! Ha ha ha.

“I remember, many years back, when Paul and I were in Vallada. We lived in a flat with our three children and we have a lovely, lovely set of friends – life was good – it was the high society of Vallada!

Our friends all had successful husbands and wives that did not work – they were the first lot of Ladies that lunch!

Most of them had a second house in the country – up in the mountains. On Sundays, especially in the winter, we all met at one of these houses. We made a fire outside and when it had died down, we made a big, big meal for everyone, sometimes a paella, but mostly we just barbequed meat – like the cowboys!

On this Sunday, I remember they said “Maria, you make the coffee!” So I was making the coffee, as you make it, in a big pot for everyone. I put in half a bottle of brandy and sugar and then the coffee, of course. One of the husbands who was helping me started laughing, and said “Yeah just put in a lot of sugar!”

You see, the wives, they never drink – I don’t think it was the thing to drink then. Normally, at the weekends after lunch, we went for a walk and met our friends and finished up at a bar. We might have a tapas there, but the ladies, the wives, only had a Coca-Cola or orange juice, never wine, although the husbands did! Sometimes we stayed in the bar quite late, maybe eight, nine o’clock. Then someone would shout:

“Oh! what shall we do for dinner?”

We all rushed to collect our children and grab something from our fridges and then met back at one of the houses to make a big meal from all the different ingredients!

Anyway – the barbeque, so, I go out to the fire with the pot of coffee, I give everyone a cup and it was hilarious! Oops! Because these wives, they never drink! Oh my, I forgot! But we did have a lovely lovely, lovely, time though. And it was a different kind of life to the one we have here. But still... beautiful.

Stay well. Stay safe. Stay tucked up inside! Speak soon. M

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