few oddball pictures from Spain that deserved their own mention:

A shop has this handy washing machine with built in sink in this tasteful colour

I really want to do this!  the bubbles were 2 metres long.   Going to try and head to Ben Yehuda Street back in Jerusalem, where street entertainers often gather and give this a try and maybe make a bit of cash…

This just means do not disturb on my hotel door, but the translation just sounds so wrong!!!!

No parking outside the church unless you are religious.  I think.   A bit later there were a couple of hearses outside though.

time out of Israel: wedding in Asturias, Spain

I took some time out of my volunteering for a break for a variety of reasons, I promised my good friend Ian I would go to his wedding, which was in Gijon, Asturias, northern Spain.

This hotel had this interesting looking old government building in a square.  Asturias is quite different from what I imagine Spain to be like, less tourists, bars supplying cider and people playing bag pipes.   Its a nice place, and Ian and Veronica had a super day with a beautiful old building overlooking a lot of hills, perfect weather, and got chance to meet up with some people I not seen in a while, as well as get to know Ian’s family, as well as some friends of Ian I went to Iceland with on a lads holiday back in 2005.   Ian surprised us all by doing all the work driving people from the (relatively dinky) airport with me, and other guests arriving off an Easyjet flight from Stansted, great as I thought he probably had a lot more to get ready as the groom.  One particular point of note with the cider is the barman will hold the bottle above head height and pour into a glass at waist height accurately from behind their backs, its apparently to do with the amount of air that gets into the liquid on the way down but I suspect its more a piece of unique bar showmanship.

Its worth mentioning the Spanish are seriously into their fish, probably more than the French I reckon.  There is some weird and wonderful finned and scaled creatures, such as this pink one with huge eyes at the local market, and tanks of lobsters still alive only a few minutes cooking and preparation to someone’s plate, as Jacobs shows here.   Some of these crabs and lobsters were 30 Euros each in some medium-class restaurants.

I also visited a train museum with Ian’s dad and sister and friends.  The steam trains here are in beautifully restored condition, and the bright bold colours and livery makes them eye catching in familiar Spanish colours.

Lastly of course I have to mention the beach.  Here the beach is sandy but quite empty, mind you it was quite cold being windy the two days before the wedding, of course chances to go and get cider on a pre-pre-wedding jolly with just the lads, seeing as Ian didn’t have a stag due to cancelled flights because of volcano ash.

my East Talpiyot neighbours

My neighbours are nice, I don’t seem them that often, apart from the odd shalom to the Ethiopian family in our block, some people say Israelis are hard to get to know initially which maybe true to some degree, but in the flat that I live in East Talpiyot, I burnt some toast, and someone knocked on the door asking if I was ok and to make sure I had not set the place on fire, I have had people twice knock on the door asking to borrow a bottle opener (sadly I didn’t have one)   and someone else below me pointed out when I had a leaking tap on the balcony gushing out over the side of the block, but today I had someone else knock on the door to say she was watering her plants and some of the dirty water had gone into my balcony, and she wanted to say sorry and clean it up.  I told her thanks but it wasn’t necessary, but was quite touched but how thoughtful this was.

Across the car park from my block is a large house owned by an Arab family, I don’t know them so well, apart from see the kids out playing at the front, but I have seen a very large tame rabbit jump out in front of me on my bike as well as their large garden at the back and have three sheep I can often hearing baaing and a few chickens, the sheep seem to be a recent purchase though.  I guess Arab people may chose to buy sheep ready for Eid, the Islamic festival in November.  Either way, with 100 yards down the road is across the 1949 Armistice line, as the Palestinian territories I sometimes go to a shop to get supplies as they are open most of the time.   I think its great that many Arab families with largish amounts of land around their house aim to be self sufficient and keep their own animals.