Saturday, 1 January 2011

Beginnings and endings.

2010 began for us with a long walk home from a friend’s house. Every year for the past 10 years we have celebrated New Year’s Eve at our friend Chris’s house, combining it with his birthday party. And after having been let down a couple of times by taxis that didn’t show up, we have frequently walked home through a crisp early New Year’s morning in the moonlight. It’s a great way of walking off the excess food and drink that such a celebration entails. In 2010 we cheated a little and had a lift to the top of the hill and then walk down the hill through quite deep snow to our village.

2010 ended for us with another long walk home from the same friend’s house. He’s been unwell and finally decided he had to cancel the usual party, probably putting it off for a few weeks until he feels better. So we decided to pop round in the late afterno
on to say hello and deliver his present. Currently carless we caught a bus part way there (the wonders of the over-60s bus pass) and then walked the rest, thinking that we could do the same in reverse. No chance! We got to the bus stop for one of the infrequent buses to our village; it didn’t arrive but there was always the possibility that it had gone early, something that happens with alarming regularity. The next bus along would take us a bit further up the road but not all the way. So we got on it anyway, fully expecting to be able to walk a bit further after alighting and eventually catch the next of the buses which go all the way to our village. A good plan but ultimately unsuccessful because the next bus failed to turn up either. It would seem that our bus service must have stopped at around 6 in the evening, although there were no notices to that effect in the bus shelters. Ah, well, at least it wasn’t raining or snowing or blowing a gale and we had been saying that we hadn’t had enough exercise over the Christmas period.

(The vagaries of t
he bus service hit us again today. We had wanted to take advantage of the sales, which have been underway since Boxing Day, to buy boots and running shoes. We knew that all the shops were open and so off we went only to discover that once again there seemed to be no buses. Our local bus shelter gives a number to text to find out the time of the next bus due there: 09.12 tomorrow morning!!)

2010 also began with snow and transport chaos, further enhanced by the presence of the looming ash cloud from the Icelandic volcano. And 2010 almost ended with similar chaos because of the snow. There is now wonderful talk of possible fines in the future for airports which fail to take the necessary precautions and preventive measures just in case it snows. Now, I know it’s not good to be stranded at an airport but I think I’d rather that than h
ave my plane skid and crash on take-off!

So there seems to have been a certain symmetry to 2010, further confirmed by what I read about Santiago de Compostela in Galicia. At the start of 2010 the Puerta Santa, the Holy Door, to the cathedral was revealed and opened up to allow entry of pilgrims into the cathedral. This door is normally locked and bricked up, only opened up in an Año Santo, a Holy Year, when Saint James’s day, 25th July, falls on a Sunday, which it did in 2010. Record numbers of pilgrims visited the city during the year. Even the Pope went there. Anyway, 2010 ended with the archbishop of Santiago locking the door and presiding over the closing ceremony. It won’t be opened again until the 31st December 2020 in readiness for the next Año Santo!

In the meantime, let’s do our best to make 2011 as good as possible. In Vilagarcia they got started on 2011 a little early, eating their 12 New Year’s grapes of good fortune as the clock struck 12 midday instead of 12 midnight, something they have been doing for a few years apparently. Here’s a link to a video clip of their celebrations. It’s not every day you get to see a square full of people eating grapes.

Happy New Year everyone!

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