<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="1252"%> Christmas Letter 2011
  Postal Address:- The Mail Room, Box 606
Calle Alhelies 1
Local 2 - 4
03189 Orihuela Costa
Alicante, Spain
  Phone: +34 96 676 1749
  VoIP phone: 024 7601 6366
Whether we’re in Spain or England you can call us on this number from England for the price of a local call.
 
Jim:
Von:
UK Mobile 0788 423 1822
UK Mobile 0788 423 1821
Jim:
Von:
Spanish Mobile 0034 636 798 705
Spanish Mobile 0034 689 073 464
   
e-mail
jim@brannigan.me.uk
von@brannigan.me.uk
December 2011
Dear Family and Friends,
Christmas is almost upon us and it’s likely that this year our greetings cards won’t be delivered until January. Perhaps by means of e-mail all won’t be lost, but some surely will. Our apologies if this is late!
It’s been a very busy year for us, mostly because we volunteer, or are volunteered, to do interesting things which turn out to be more demanding than at first thought. Living in Spain is a learning experience and our new years’ resolutions should probably be to learn to let others take the strain.
We are members of an association called ADAPT (Asociación de Anglo Parlantes) and we’re involved with numerous small groups within it - a Games Club where we play Rummikub or other tabletop games and a lunch club for once a month outings. Very nice! We are also members of the Torrevieja branch of U3A which had its 5th birthday in October. Celebrations began with champagne and birthday cake, then continued with a concert of lovely music played by the Torrevieja Youth Orchestra. They played a varied programme to a very high standard. We’ve made many friends through the U3A; we go on walks with their rambling group and have visited interesting places in Spain on some of the coach trips they organise. We’ve just signed up for more trips for 2012 so the New Year already looks exciting.

Two Seahorses in Captivity

Collecting Brine Shrimp (Artemia)

Jim:
This year I took on the responsibility of organising the team of volunteers who assist scientists in the Oceanographic Centre to feed seahorses in captivity on a daily basis. As one of those volunteers I have been going to the Salinas on Saturdays, and sometimes also on Sundays, to catch artemia (tiny brine shrimp) which I then take to the Centre to feed to the seahorses, however I’ll discontinue this role in the New Year.

I also continue to run my computer club every month for ADAPT.

From September I’ve been involved in rehearsals for the ADAPT pantomime production of “Cinderella”, playing Petal, one of the ugly sisters (no comment!) culminating this month in four performances to full houses. Our takings of over 1.500€ were given to the Saharaui Project which exists to bring a few children of dispossessed Saharan families to Spain for summer holidays. We’re now waiting to see the video!


Petal and Blossom getting ready for the ball
Von
I agreed to co-ordinate and run a “Charitea” event at the International School of Languages in San Javier last spring. This involved negotiating with other associations which exist to help needy people in the area I produced a PowerPoint presentation, a wall and a table-top display to promote ADAPT. Being in a team of one meant three months of intensive work to gather information and photos and every word written had to be in both Spanish and in English. It was most successful in terms of public interest and money raised but perhaps you will not be surprised that I’ve just said “no” to being involved in the 2012 Charitea event!

Asociación Hipocampus at Charitea

Von explaining one of the displays

The massed gathering

Von relaxing in a quiet moment
I’m now using “News in Slow Spanish” online to improve my Spanish.. I still meet individually most weeks with my very good Spanish friends Estefanía and Marie Carmen to chat with them half in English and half in Spanish. Most of this year I’ve been helping Sandra, a Spanish teacher of English at the Instituto (secondary school), one morning a week with her English classes of 12/13 year olds and 17/18 year olds. And, this is brave, I’ve recently joined a Spanish theatre group and been given the role of Clarita, a hairdresser, in “Paella de Mariscos”. Clarita only has 14 lines in the play, in Spanish of course, and I practice those lines over and over in my sleep. At the last minute I agreed to a bit part as a dancer at Cinderella’s ball which was rather fun. In the past couple of weeks I’ve been singing carols with the ADAPT choir, first at Aidemar, the Institute for disabled adults, and then at the International Language School in Cartagena. I was very fortunate to be able to make two visits to Gijón in Asturias in the north of Spain to stay with my friend María who lives there, the first time in April for two weeks then in August for one week, travelling 1000 kms each way on my own by train from Alicante. Maria and I enjoyed our time together very much especially when she had a few days’ holiday so we could visit places further afield.

Sea Front in Gijón from Maria's Window

Mari and Von near Gijón

Maria Villaviciosa in Asturias

Asturian Grain Store

Von in Villaviciosa

Von having emptied the barrel at the Cider Museum

Gijón famous for sidra/cider!!!
Together Jim and I have visited Onda and Sagunto, Lorca (ten days before the earthquake hit it), Elche, Albarracin and Cuenca, Alhama de Murcia near Totana, Playa Lastre, Mazarrón, San José, Alguilas, Mojáca and Santa Pola.

Lorca

Albarracin

Albarracin

Albarracin

Cuenca
We made a short visit to England in July for Myra and Gerry’s 50th wedding anniversary celebration at Greg and Helen’s house and we met their little one, Scarlett, for the first time; she’s delightful. It was great that so many of the family were there. We were hoping that Fiona and Alex’s baby would be born while we were in the UK but Jacob thought otherwise and waited until the 20th July to arrive, the day after we flew back to Spain, so we’ll have to wait a little longer to be introduced! We really miss our family and wish we could see more of you. Our spare bedroom is the motor caravan if you can manage a Spanish break! We also love to hear from you so please keep in touch.

Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year,
love from Von & Jim