Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Last days of summer

Fall will officially begin tomorrow  September 23, 2015. On this day, night and day are roughly equal in length, the sun is directly over the equator and the northern and southern hemispheres of the Earth are getting the sun’s rays equally. This phenomenon occurs twice a year, spring and autumn.
Source: The Star

In Spain, the last days of summer, is popularly known as "el veranillo de San Miguel" (summer of St. Michael). It is called so since it is a period of days (not more than one week), in the first days of autumn, when the temperature remains at about 30° C as a few weeks ago. It coincides with the feast day of St. Michael the Archangel that is  celebrated on September 29.

For some, the last day of summer is bittersweet, with vacations almost forgotten, no more beaches nor swimming in the outdoor pools, children back to school,  usual routine...while the "dog days" of hot sultry days  are over. Whereas to others, the coming of autumn which begins tomorrow will give shorter days, but will be cooler and with some wonderful fall nights to enjoy. Autumn also means  the coming of one of the best months of the year, October with its clear, cool, ideal weather month.  For me autumn usually comes with a gift, the visit of Mel to Madrid, and family bonding through travels. The following is my view of  the last days of summer.

On the other hand,  summer of St. Michael is special this year because on September 27 there will be a total lunar eclipse, or "blood moon" which will coincide with a "Supermoon".  A lunar eclipse occurs when the Earth is between the full moon and the sun.  The Earth's shadow covers the moon, which often has a red color, hence the "blood" moon nickname.  This lunar eclipse will last for about one hour and 12 minutes.   What is uncommon is for a total lunar eclipse to coincide with a Supermoon.  There have been just five such events since 1900 (in 1910, 1928, 1946, 1964 and 1982), NASA said. The last such eclipse happened in 1982, and the next won't occur until 2033, after 18 years. The lunar eclipse will also feature the "biggest" full moon (in apparent size) of 2015, since the moon will also be at perigee on the very same day ? its closest point to the Earth ? 221,753 miles (356,877 km) away. It's about 14% larger without any dramatic change in appearance,

To read more:

Every season has its beauty, so whether you prefer summer or fall, enjoy the last full day of summer, but get ready for a wonderful autumn.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Roses in Rosaleda Parque Oeste, Madrid

Let me share with you pictures of some beautiful roses from  the Rose Garden “Rosaleda Ramón Ortiz” on the edge of Madrid´s Parque del Oeste, which Ron and I visited yesterday. Every year they hold a contest in Madrid for the best rose. The public is invited to come and view the roses in the competition and an expert jury comes in to choose the winners. After a winner has been chosen, that plant is given a special place with a little plaque in the garden. You can, of course, visit the Rosaleda at any point during the year, although it is best to go in May, and the entrance is free to the public.

The gardens themselves are not very big, but there is a wide variety of roses. In this Rosaleda (Rose gardens), there are about 20,000 rose bushes, with about 600 varieties of modern roses (I had no idea that there were so many different types and colors of roses).


This is really a fun place to visit specially in the morning of a sunny, spring day like it was yesterday.  Surprisingly the sun presented itself with a halo with just the right brilliance to capture the gorgeous pinks, oranges and reds of the flowers.

There were several places to snap the perfect photo in the midst of the blending colors of the roses, several with the most delicate fragrance.



It is surely an artist´s playground. Overall, the gardens have a relaxing effect, especially as you sit under the canopy of green vines on one of the long benches contemplating the natural beauty, or anywhere else in the midst of the perfumed roses.

It has several fountains and a lily pond.

Although the Rose gardens might not be as well known or as frequented as the Botanical Garden located next to the Prado Museum, it has its own charm.  Whether you are a rose enthusiast, or just want to read a book in the shade or want to get a perfect photo, this place will be a peaceful  haven for you.

"The fragrance always stays in the hand that gives the rose". 

For me, a rose is a gift for the senses. 

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Gourmet markets in Madrid

Something you really should get your head around if you are going to Madrid is the hora del aperitivo. This is the hour (or two, or three), some time after noon, that the Madrileños like to devote to having a civilised drink, preferably accompanied by a few tasty morsels to sharpen up the appetite, before the main event of lunch. Although this custom is as traditional as it gets, one of the best and buzziest places to experience it is the Mercado de San Miguel,

the gourmet market that opened in May 2009.  Right by the Plaza Mayor, the dainty ironwork structure dates back to 1916 and housed a neighbourhood food market until a couple of years ago.   Source of information:  Simon Seeks.       Source of Images:  Ron's photos.

The iron structure that still remains today was built between 1913 and 1916, inspired by other European markets, such as Les Halles of Paris. The 1,200 square meters of today’s market sell Spanish specialties, from gambas to jamón to regional wines. But really, it transcends the national: there is a sushi stand and a Mexican section too. No matter what kind of food you like, you will find only the best of the best here. So make sure to come hungry.  Source: Vagabondish.

While there are still a few fruit and vegetable stalls, the aisles are now lined with chichi shops and bars where you can try a few slivers of marbled ham, half a dozen oysters or maybe some chunks of crystally mature Manchego cheese, along with a glass of wine, sherry or beer. The purist’s choice of aperitivo, however, is draught red vermouth, topped up with a dash of soda water – and there is an excellent one on offer here. Order white anchovies in vinegar to go with it, and you will feel as Madrileña as Penélope Cruz. 

They have taken sustainability seriously by adding solar panels and materials that care about the environment. On the first floor you can buy organic products, fruits and vegetables, cheeses from around the world, fish, meat, bread…

The second floor is reserved for Italian and Japanese cuisine, seafood, cakes and chocolates, juices... and tapas!

On the third floor there is a restaurant, La Cocina de San Antón, which allows you to choose any kind of food from the market and they'll cook it for you. You can have your food inside the restaurant or on its terrace acclimated for winter and summer. They have a menu too so that you can order directly. Source:  London Wishes

A new concept of markets.  I have gone to the San Miguel and San Anton Markets and tapas were good and affordable.  If what you want is a variety of tapas to choose from, these places are where you should go.

June Activities in San Fernando de Henares (Madrid)

Summer astronomically initiates on June 21 and lasts 93 days and 15 hours, ending on the 23rd of September with the start of autumn.

In San Fernando de Henares,  Community of Madrid, there is usually a flea market every Friday.  It is popularly known as "Rastrillo" where they sell fresh fruits and vegetables, clothes and other things. It is held just a few meters away from the subway, and with the fruits and vegetable markets annexing the Red Cross building and within the Dolores Ibarruri Park.

Fruits and vegetables are relatively cheaper than those sold in supermarkets or any traditional market. Some are home grown products.   But you are not allowed to touch them but trust your vision and good judgement.  Unless you have a place you go to regularly, then your chances are higher to get a good buy.  There are all sorts of things sold from clothes, kitchen wares, shoes (with brand names that can be more than 5€ lesser than those sold in regular stores)  and a long list of all others.  Here are some of them.


It is also in June towards the end of the month that a Medieval market is held at the other end of the park and lasts the whole weekend. There are many handcrafted items that are outstanding not only for their originality but also for their attractive prices. Here are some of the photos I took:





There is also a playground for kids' games.  And of course, there are lots of places to eat from recently done pizzas and potatoes cooked in traditional ovens, kebabs and restaurants that serve paella and other grilled food.  

Almost coinciding with the Medieval Market is our Parish Church Fiesta.  There is a program of staged activities and sale of paella as well as raffle of donated items.  Our new parish priest played with a rock band this year.

June is certainly an interesting month full of events in San Fernando de Henares.