Blogs in this series

Life in Culebrón is a disconnected series of pieces about the banal and ordinary of everyday life in an inland Alicante village seen from my very British perspective.

Sunday, September 03, 2017


The first ever Spanish language course I took leaned heavily on the BBC course Digame. The Digame book and cassettes or records were backed by TV programmes which featured short reports about life in Spain. The series was based in Cuenca, one of the provincial capitals of Castilla la Mancha. The first time I went to Cuenca I followed the directions from the bus station to the Hostal Pilar - directions that I'd learned from one of the programmes. In the tourist information office I talked to the man who I'd seen on the telly and, when I went for a beer, in the bar Los Elefantes I fully expected to find Zobel having a wine with Antonio Saura.

One of the TV reports was about Cuenca on a Sunday. We heard the local radio station open the day, we saw the faithful heading for Sunday mass, we followed someone to buy the Sunday bread and newspapers on the quiet Sunday streets. Down, on the sunny banks of the River Huecar, a man washed his car, in the shallows, while his family set up a picnic. In the early evening the local football team, Unión Balompédica Conquense, lost their local fixture.

Digame was first broadcast in 1978. I bumped into it around 1982 and, back then, Sunday was a day of leisure in Spain. A day that was different from the rest. Of course, in 1982, the UK was pretty quiet on a Sunday too.

We popped down to Monóvar just before lunch to see the opening of their 49th International Salón of Photography. I thought some of the photos were pretty good though I do wonder why people still insist on producing black and white photos. Maggie was underwhelmed, she was done in minutes; it wasn't a long visit. Afterwards we went to get a drink. We sat outside a bar in a square in the town. Young girls in pretty frocks took their dollies for a pram ride in a stereotypical display whilst the little boys chased balls or their sisters/cousins. Teenagers sat on benches laughing about the videos on their phones and lots of adults were outside the bars having a beer, a vermouth or whatever as a bit of an aperitif before lunch. Nothing, except the bread shops and the bars, were open. Strolling was the order of the day and dog walking was big. Rural Spain still closes down on a Sunday

It's different in the big cities of course and even near here, on the coast, lots of the big stores are open on Sunday but not all by any means. Mercadona, the biggest retailer in Spain opens none of its stores on Sundays. Murcia is the 7th largest city in Spain and el Corte Inglés, the second largest retailer in Spain, has three big stores there but none of them are open today.

It's rather reassuring. Very Commodores.

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