I thought today for a change I would hop back to Europe and share our local fiesta with you.

Every June for days and days the locals celebrate, not for tourists, but for themselves. They remember the 800 years domination of most of Spain by the Moors from north Africa and since 1990, the culmination at the end of weeks of all kinds of activities, is the Conquista and the Reconquista.

The first night the Moors come over the beach to conquer the castle – a little sad really as we don’t have a proper castle here, only a small lookout tower of fairly recent origin. But this doesn’t bother anyone.


Sneakily the Moors invade at night under cover of darkness. In theory they arrive by sea, but these days they lurk behind the chiringita (beach bar) on the main strand. The performance begins at 10.30pm, almost our bedtime.


We know the Christians are in residence, as they skitter along the sand and pop onto the rampart above the rocks just before the Moors arrive.


The Moors then try to persuade them to give up the castle and take a hike. First they send a demanding note which is theatrically torn to pieces. Next they try the bribery tack, boxes full of gold. No takers. Then come the dancing girls, all four of them, which, if you look at the number lounging around on the battlements, would have to work very hard indeed to keep everyone satisfied. The fire dancers and eater don’t make much impression on the castle residents either. Then they set fire to the cross – sacrilege – and then skilfully cut the throat of one of the Christian women.



Enter the horses, with battles galore and finally, in exasperation, they all take to the guns.

I don’t think I can post a video on here, but I’ll try on my FB page as the noise is truly terrifying. These are real blunderbusses, and they are filled with real gunpowder and wadding or something and they are really loud. They blast away for a while and frankly, they are lousy shots. The Moors are victorious and as the Christians march out of the castle in go the conquerors.

Eight hundred years is kaleidoscoped into twenty hours as the original inhabitants of our small town come to regain the castle. They arrive in broad daylight at 7pm, no sneaking around for them. They also try the bribery bit, with more dancing girls (I highly suspect it’s the same group from last night, so they must have changed sides earlier in the day – and I’m sure I spied the postmistress from the next village as she’s the belly dancing teacher).

The Moors are less than impressed, although the dancing was excellent. So, if the dancers failed, would the tumbling team (last seen at Benidorm Palace) succeed?

Sadly no, so after the gun-proofed horses have galloped about the beach for a bit fighting with real swords it’s back to the gunfire again and more fireworks.

A few people drop – despite the large number of guns most are really lousy shots, and the Moors give up and vacate the castle and the Christians take possession again. Mind those who have been shot lie for ages on the beach, probably tying not to breathe sand up their noses.


The third night there is the grand parade, which includes babies in push chairs, toddlers who can just walk, to grandmothers and every age inbetween. It’s a fantastic side of Spanish culture and family. I even noticed some Moors and Christians sharing a pizza after the battle!

I was going to include the procession in this post, but will save it for next week as I now have far too many pictures to include. none of them are brilliant and I apologize. The conditions for the equipment I had were not good, and the subjects had a terrible habit of jiggling around.

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So, we were about to spend the night in the airport. I’ve done this several times before and always managed to keep myself amused and even grab a quick nap or five. This time we were doomed. DH settled himself in a chair – well it was supposed to be a chair, more an instrument of torture. Rows of little plastic non-human shapes were welded together with immovable arm rests.


I wandered off to do some shopping. Ha! Wouldn’t you know it, they were all closing. I drooled in a jewellers with the assistant giving me very suspicious looks. I think this was because nothing in there was under $10,000 dollars and I didn’t look as if I could afford the door mat. He was quite right of course, but then I spied the perfect watch. I wanted it, oh how I wanted it. I asked him the price and his lip curled up as he casually flicked over the price tag and I left the shop at speed as he slammed the shutters down behind me with more force than necessary I thought. Then it dawned on me, we were about to spend a month in knock-off land!watch

The only shop open was a W H Smith, so I killed an hour or so making a very careful choice of the various paper hankies for sale.

After that thrilling experience, I wandered the full length of the transfer lounge which was ginormous and had a cup of coffee. I popped back at regular intervals to check that DH had not done a runner. I sussed out every nook and cranny but nowhere was there a single comfortable chair.

After another cup of coffee – only one place was open – I decided that I would visit the washrooms and then wished I hadn’t – but I had to by now.

This was the one downside of travelling in the Far East – the washrooms. In most of them there were several local loos and only one or at most two western ones. At my age, it’s enough for me to keep my balance on two feet without any acrobatics. Thoughtfully they posted pics on the back of the doors to show people how to use a western loo – you should not stand on it. I did take a photo of this but felt it might be a bit tasteless to post it here. If there are requests I will.

Each cubicle was equipped with a hose attached to the wall – and I’m still trying to work out how these are used without soaking yourself and your clothing from head to toe – and the drainage systems were not able to cope with such large flows of water. Even entering the restrooms was like paddling through a small river.

So, I had the choice coffee and restroom or dehydration and no restroom.

I did spy a couple of places where the passengers had literally ripped off the chair arm rests so it was possible to lie down, but as these were right outside the restroom I decided it wasn’t worth it. Not only that they were all occupied and I couldn’t find the fire alarm button which might have dislodged them.


Soon we were airborne again, tired, hungry and thirsty. And guess what, this time there was no meal at all, we’d had two  on the first leg – the result of a misplaced key stroke on DH’s pc.


We landed in Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam to be met by our bubbly tour guide and driven to the hotel. Our first priority was to get something to eat, but before that we had to have a lesson in crossing the road. No Green Cross Code here, you walk, yes walk from one pavement to the other. You don’t look, you don’t stop and you don’t change pace, you just keep walking to the opposite pavement. Well that’s not quite accurate, because every pavement is nose to tail scooters so you can’t walk on them, you have to hug the kerb. After our quiet, peaceful well ordered traffic it was a huge culture shock. Cars, scooters, coaches miss you by a whisker front and behind, but the mantra is keep walking, keep walking.



Back in history, ‘Queen’ Sarah didn’t have a scooter, but she was a very bossy lady. She ordered the Princess Anne around as if she was a 2 year old. But hey, whatever it takes. Her husband was really good at winning battles and each time, it was lots more loot in the bank that Williamnmary had so thoughtfully set up for them.

In the meantime, Queen Anne was desperately trying to produce an heir. She enjoyed the practice and had one baby after another after another. Only one, Little William survived and sadly, he didn’t look too strong. This time the answer wasn’t to lop off the heads of husbands, (as King Henry VIII had done) as Prince George wasn’t really to blame, you could see he’d played his part properly. Apparently he enjoyed practicing as well.

PRINCE GEORGE OF DENMARKPrince George of Denmark

To really put her nose out of joint, Queen Sarah Churchill had 6 healthy, squalling offspring.

When Ann wasn’t getting pregnant, she spent her time drinking chocolate and stuffing herself with sweets till she grew so fat she could hardly walk.

Before I sign off, Truth, Lies and Propaganda, the first of my crazy life in the media in South Africa, how I became a writer is on Kindle Countdown this week at $/£ 0.99 here is the link – well i can hope can’t I? 🙂  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00QE35BO2