In several past chapters of this “incredibly-fun-but-marginally-stay-connected-set-of-somewhat-and-often-randomly-generated-chapters-of-my-life,” I have written about the preponderance of holidays that we are forced to abide by in Spain.  Okay, so the word ‘’forced’’ isn’t really appropriate, because we all love the number of them; but even I must admit that some weeks, we do seem to just about shut the country down due to our incredible love of not being able to go to work.  The other week was a prime example.

In a one week period, we had the summer Solstice (the longest day of the year), dia de St Joan (St. John, for you non-Spanish-speaking readers), and some other holiday, whose namesake totally and completely escapes me (no doubt due to holiday overload).  The first one to appear during the week was the solstice.  Although there is no definitive way to know who celebrated the solstice first, scientists and conspiracy theorists believe that it was celebrated by the Druids.   Those Druids really knew how to celebrate.  Every year at this time, they would put on their very best animal skins and hunker on down to their local Stonehenge-y like site and party on until the wee hours of the morning.  Apparently, there is not archaeological evidence of the Druids doing much of anything, but seeing as how they were here during the Iron Age, it is pretty clear that their robes must have been well pressed.  I was thinking about this when it was the longest day of the year again.  For those of you who missed it, it was 21 June.   Technically, today wasn’t any longer than any other day, but the hours of sunlight extended the ‘day’ for everyone in the northern hemisphere.  It kind of makes you wonder how the Druids knew that today was a day worth celebrating.  It isn’t as if they had set their iPhone alarms to ping them on the longest day of the year.  No iPhone alarm meant they weren’t even able to be reminded of when Fiona Bruce did the evening news or when Have I Got News for You was about to begin.  They just knew.  It kind of makes me wonder how could these people – actually any people who were living on our planet hundreds or thousands of years ago – could figure out so much. 

I know people who, even with the massive amount of available technology, can’t keep their calendars sorted.  But those Druids without iPhones or computers (no archaeology, so we can only assume but this would be a safe bet), managed to know when the longest day was every year.  The Egyptians had this sorted well too.  Ask any sane conspiracy theorist and they will tell you that aliens built the Pyramids, so perhaps they also told the Egyptians which was the longest day of the year.  Not sure about that, but I don’t know any sane conspiracy theorists to ask. 

The longest day of the year was clearly a time to celebrate, and Robert Bell (you really didn’t think that his parents baptised him “Kool” knowing he would one day head up Kool and the Gang?) had it right when he sang  “There's a party goin' on right here; A celebration to last throughout the year;s So bring your good times, and your laughter too; We gonna celebrate your party with you.”

My celebration of the Solstice began by waking up on Amélie and following my daily regimen of all things healthy.  Okay, some of you may be rolling on the floor in hysterical laughter, and I will excuse that, but I really have been working on my health (again).  I am not sure if this year’s health drive is a result of the fact that I seem to have quite a few friends who have been hammered with health problems, or maybe it is out of boredom.  Regardless, this year’s regimen whilst onboard Amélie includes multiple-times-each-day rows in the harbour and at least two major swims.  The rowing is pretty much like having a proper rowing machine, and because I do the rowing in my tender for Amélie (which is cleverly and adorably named Améliña), it actually is a proper rowing machine.  The difference is that Améliña is meant to be driven by an outboard motor and rowing her is about as easy as pushing treacle through a strainer.  But all the drag generates resistance, which generates real exercise.  The swimming is brilliant and I now do at least two swims each day from Amélie to shore and back.  My exercise programme when not onboard Amélie is a bit different, and consists of watering the plants on all three terraces and waiting for the current rerun episode of the Gilmores to be on telly.  I think being onboard Amélie is good for me.


Another potentially ‘interesting’ point of health information for you.  Last week, it was exactly one year since I ran out of cigarettes, and then began to forget to buy more.  Have no doubt, I have not quit smoking, but it is quite evident to me that I have made the conscious choice to just not smoke for a while.  Well, as of last week, for the past year.  I ‘stopped’ for a long period of time once before, not smoking for nine years.  Then I hadn’t quit either, just wasn’t smoking.  Admittedly, I do think about getting some cigarettes off and on, but I never actually go out and buy any.  Choice…what a fab gift.  I have no idea how long I will extend my smoking cessation this time, but as with many things in life; it is what it is. 

And now, because I have been spending more time on Amélie that at home, one of the summer nautical thematic information bits.  Bobbing around in the harbour with lots of privacy as Amélie is – she is on a swinging mooring as opposed to being tied up in some tacky marina where your nearest neighbour is inches away -  one of the things that one does is watch other boats.  If you are a non-boater, this may seem like an utter waste of time.  But if you have the boating chromosome coursing through your veins, this can be high entertainment.  Whilst this harbour has its share of the big, the small, the sleek, and the rubbish (that barely is floating); the other day a real treat appeared on the horizon and then anchored just outside the harbour entrance.  It wasn’t Capt. Jack Sparrow, but it sure looked like it could have been.  There aren’t too many sights as great as a tall ship, and it was quite a charm to have the Stad Amsterdam so close. 

And on a completely irrelevant side note, after a considerable number of conversations with the kind folks at Adobe (in Delhi, of course), I was able to upload this chapter from Amélie.  Not bad.


an Andratx photo that has nothing to do with the chapter


another random neighbourhood photo looking very Lake Como-ish


the calita near Sol y Mar


finally, an appropriate photo...a frieze of St. John (it said)


a car covered with Post-Its near Sol y Mar....I have no idea why


clearly not a 'ciao bella' scooter, more like "greased lightening"


where is Jack Sparrow when you need him?

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copyright 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011  James B. Rieley