Walk On: Lent 2021 - Episode 6: the one without the donkey
We're here at Parque del Palmeral in Alicante It's the first time that we've come into Alicante on our walks for our sixth walk, and El Palmeral means "Palm Grove" as you know and as it's Palm Sunday this weekend, we thought we'd go where we could guarantee seeing some palms We should be able to get some sea views as well by the looks of it but let's go and have a look around This is where we usually turn off, but we're not going to today no, we're not flying home Why would you say "flying home" when we live here? Sorry, flying back to the UK that's a Freudian slip that is. Do you think? "City of lights" - that's what it means in Arabic Alicante? yep Al Acant "City of lights". okay that's interesting but of course there's lots of Arabic words got into the Spanish language anyway things like "Almazara" where you get our olives done "El" just means "the" doesn't it? Then you´ve got Benidorm, Benijofar and Benissa "son of" - "ben" which of course is means the same in Hebrew as well as Arabic OK, so is "lunch" Arabic? it probably is "Almuerzo", yeah it probably is There's a horse racing place in Abu Dhabi called "Alan Shearer" there is I think it's "Al Shira" and it's close to Al-Ain which is in Dubai of course so Al-Ain Shira is a horse racing place We´re doing the final approach to Parque del Palmeral so we've gone from El Palmeral to El Palmeral of course there´s an El Palmeral in Elche as well and all it means is "the Palm Grove" anyway well not "anyway" but "the Palm Grove" that's the entrance yeah it is you just need a parking space here which is perfect plenty of them Park nearer, then we can come back for things So this is a very different walk to last week it's an ornamental park just outside the centre of Alicante, Parque del Palmeral which means Palm Grove which seems appropriate for Palm Sunday really Looking across to Alicante castle you can probably just about see it on top of the hill so we are quite close to alicante yes it's not somewhere we've been before. It isn`t A rather nice ornamental park really rather than a rugged terrain as it was last week yes Palm Sunday will be very different this year in Elche particularly - in Spain generally of course they have the festivities and the parades but Elche has particular significance because of the amount of palm trees we have in the city The palms are blessed before a huge parade by the bishop and rumour has it that the Vatican receives palms for its Palm Sunday service from here As you can see the Punting industry has suffered a bit of water damage this year so if this was Venice he'd be looking for his tourists wouldn't he really It's like everywhere else during this rather strange period - everybody's maintaining for when it returns back to normal whatever that is oh wow that's really pretty It really is an ornamental park isn't it? Little bridges and rivers and waterfalls it's not quite the Pantano de Elche in terms of size of that waterfall but of course we have this .....r
The bougainvillea is absolutely beautiful yeah we've got we've got two or three different colours in our garden haven't we really? we don't have that red though, ours are more purple Such a blue sky, there's such a contrast with the blue and green today I think the swimming pool needs a bit of chlorine in though but it doesn't have any fish in so presumably they do chlorinate it? the fish have all jumped over the dam that's why you won't let me forget that will you? not really when we tell people from the UK where we are we have to say "we're near Alicante" but that's a bit like somebody from Sunderland saying they live near Newcastle I was i was going to put my Elche shirt on today just as an act of defiance because of the rivalry that exists between Hercules which is spelt like Hercules and Elche because they see themselves as the local rivals both claiming to be the top city the only ones in the premiership are Elche (um temporarily....) the airport of course used to be Alicante airport but it's now Alicante-Elche Airport Well I think i may have said earlier but Jet2 described it as Benidorm Airport but that's Jet2 for you there seems to be a significant number of feral cats around here as well there was a lady feeding them and then a gentleman telling her off for doing so I'm just going to turn around look at him I wonder if our little fellow would survive with this lot? I wonder if he could teach them a thing or two? is it like Lady and the Tramp? I don't know Would he be the civilized one and would they be the ruffians? I don't think you could call our cat civilized can you? I don't know he reads Tolstoy ... It doesn't feel civilized when he's destroying rats and mice - oh look, lots of cats We've lost the whole animal welfare market now now that they've heard that our cat destroys other animals oh okay So we're going through an avenue of palm trees here It's actually not just palms, is it? It´s a variation of different trees as well although there are lots of fairly spectacular ones - they really are tall People who climb them to cut them are a bit like steeple jacks They go up them with just a belt around them, and spikes on their feet They climb to the top, secure themselves and then chop the leaves to make the trunk they're usually ...
some guests will have seen this as well Around our area they tie the tops of the palms up with the black tape and it prevents the sun from getting to them so that they remain bleached and white and sandy coloured and then they chop them off and use them for the the local craft of weaving the palm fronds that they then present at the Palm Sunday walk which of course, as i said before, isn't happening this year. It looks from what we've seen locally as though they're actually not cutting them at all this year they're just leaving them all still bound up They leave one leaf out for photosynthesis so that the tree doesn't die and the rest of the trees lose their green the chlorophyll they lose the colour and then they make the blanched palms and that's how we get palm crosses too in Elche they sell the designs just before the parade and then you keep them for a year and it's meant to bring good luck rather pretty I believe we can walk around the back of it i think we can - it's a bit like Niagara isn't it? You could walk around the back of Niagara as well We have done! We have, yeah but that was 21 years ago, anyway 21 years ago, a long time ago We'll miss the processions and the parades for Palm Sunday and the whole of Holy Week really It´s very big in Elche - big - Lots of parades, a big festival Big times for families to meet up and go to the festivals too and that's not allowed either so the families are not allowed to meet which will be very difficult You miss all the flamboyance and the colour of the different "Cofradia" - what does that mean again? It's like brotherhood it's the groups of each region it's not just region, is it? It's people who look after different aspects of spirituality and holiness so it's like people who look after Penitence some people look after praying with Mary and all other "specialisms" really and then they mobilize for the one day of the year and each group has a different colour and elaborate costumes and they're all really bright and then each year a different group of people carry Jesus and the donkey which is a huge statue on a plinth that about 80 people carry This has been the second year it hasn't happened Iit's quite paradoxical really I suppose because it's understandable that Jesus´ followers celebrate Palm Sunday as a celebration of His Kingship because that's what palm parades were for, they were returning Kings from war that they waved palms for. And they had huge thrones and Jesus quite deliberately did it the other way around by riding on a donkey so that although one of the defining characteristics of the parades is flamboyance one of the defining characteristics of the first Palm Sunday was humility of Jesus saying "You are celebrating my kingship" but actually the humility is shown by the fact there was no attempt to make it a real big event because there was just a donkey which of course was a fulfillment of prophecy anyway so there was a reason for that it would also show that Jesus is for all without the wealth of kings I wonder how many people there were genuine followers and how many were just there because there was a parade going on and do you think those that were just there for a parade when they saw him on a donkey and they'd heard it was a king just laughed? I don't know there's no written record of that but of course that's a possibility they certainly changed their mind pretty quickly Because it's only a week later that the same crowd was saying "Crucify him!" well that's what the story is. we always talk about it's the same crowd it might be a completely different group of people but This is an interesting little area here I can't work out whether it's intended to be a mini desert whether it's a skate park kids bikes what do they call them? BMX bikes, little ones it does have a "deserty" feel though yeah it does It's a lot more of a sedate walk today it is - it's just "browsing" But I suppose last week we were talking about pilgrimages that shouldn't always be about achievement so I suppose just enjoying the moment is an important factor I think it'd be better if this had little pedalos on though pedalos, but actually a water version of dodgems I was on the pedalos at Scarborough - we always used to bump into people there Do they have pedalos at Scarborough? I think so Are you sure? They weren´t called pedalos though were they? Well what were they called? I don't remember pedalos at Scarborough Pedal boats (Paddle boats?) Little ones that went on a pool.
Pedalos here, I´m used to them being pedalos And the water´s about a foot deep. That yellow´s beautiful some kind of mimosa maybe and the palms, I mean you can see the palms behind us and the palms in front of us as well waving in the breeze and the whole trunk moves I'd be interested to know the the history of these because obviously the history of the Elche ones we know If I was being loyal to my city - I know it's meant to be artificial - but its a little bit like Disney but without the rides yes it's an ornamental park it's all staged I expect there to be music when you go around the corner It´s small world that's suspenseful, no, all the music that when I listen to Hans Zimmer these days I always feel as though he sounds like he should be performing at Disney because you go around the corner and it's it's supposed to build the tension before you get on Rubber Dinghy Rapids I think Parque del Palmeral in Alicante could do with a Rubber Dinghy Rapids "It's a small world" what's your other favourite theme park? the Peter Pan ride where you think you're flying through the air you'd struggle to get "Nemesis" in this space wouldn't you? I'm not a roller coaster person so I get too travel sick - I can do the little rides we've got some offspring who are roller coaster junkies but we won't name them because i've already been told off telling a story about one previously So we've moved picnic site because we weren't allowed to have a picnic in the park picnics were forbidden yeah, it was a bit of a surprise to find that in a park with picnic benches there was a sign that says no picnics but but we were dutifully well behaved and we've just come a couple of minutes down the coast with a nice sea behind us but there is a bit of a breeze which is why we have the car door open It's the wind break it's not orange so we've come here for our picnic so what have we got today then? so today you have an alcohol-free beer as a treat And I have coke - no wine! no wine? No no that's an alcohol-free beer that would be an alcohol-free beer and then in homage to my mother we have egg mayonnaise sandwiches why is it an homage to your mother? because when we had picnics we always had egg sandwiches but you can see how yellow mayonnaise is because our next-door neighbour has hens and gave me some eggs so this is your homemade bread? yes with our next-door neighbours chickens´ eggs Very home produced that's very Felicity Kendal isn't it really? so we have an egg sandwich, some low-fat crisps olives and tomatoes thank you it's our Easter Egg lunch yes and then we have date and walnut cake just for a change let's follow the theme There's something authentic about Easter when you have an Easter egg isn't there really? it was a nice walk today it's very pleasant But it's a bit on the artificial side as a park I suppose by definition it is a park but it's not really the real thing whereas you sort of feel when you're walking through El Palmeral de Elche where you've got the Groves that have been there since the dawn of time or at least since the sixth or seventh century it feels a bit artificial so i suppose that's that's the challenge with any festival isn't it? be it Holy Week or be it Christmas week or any traditional festival it's finding the reality past the artificial - past the artificiality isn't it really? I don't know about you but it's difficult i think to get one clear message from Palm Sunday don't you think? Don´t you think there's different aspects to it? i think there are many aspects to it and I think that the people there will have come from so many different thoughts and areas as well that for them there'll be different aspects to at that point Because it feels a bit different from the rest of Lent in that you're out of the desert and there's this triumphal celebration It's like you score a goal and then VAR comes up yes exactly And it's like hold on a minute Everybody thinks Jesus is brilliant and He's the King and He's the Messiah but we just need to run the video of that back again and see whether he's offside That sounds awfully trivial but it's it's about presumption. But Jesus knew all of that so He wasn't surprised by it but there was the fickleness of the crowd that one minute they're celebrating His arrival and the next minute they're asking for His death and in the meantime Jesus understood the kingship but he also understood the need for the humility which meant that he was on the donkey and not in a big royal cavalcade so there is something about celebration but there's something about humility and the word "humus" is the source word for humility and it means "ground" or "earth" so Jesus was "grounded" and a lot of the celebrations that we take part in here that won't be going on this year the Palm Sunday celebrations with the dates that come from the date palms that are in this date and walnut cake we've grown in our garden there's something about linking the earth with what's real pleasure and not and the flamboyance of the exhibition isn't as important as the groundedness Does that make sense? yes and I think we all should look to be grounded and we all should look to show humility I think it's not so much about how well you think about yourself in some ways it's whether it's real or not and whether you are putting on a show for somebody else's benefit or whether you are being true to yourself and actually by being the Coming King and being the humble person that was going to be crucified and killed, Jesus was being true to himself because he was both of those Even though the people at the time didn't fully understand that We should have brought a donkey with us really so we could re-enact Palm Sunday we should have brought a donkey with us? (Julie asks disbelievingly) you need a donkey for Palm Sunday. I suppose the donkey plays a pretty prominent role doesn´t he? He's there at the birth and he's there at Palm Sunday well as that was the means of transport I suppose it's like the car now in one way that's the means of getting around it was possible for more people to own donkeys than carriages and if Jesus had been born into 1950s italy they'd have had a Vespa scooter wouldn't they? Mary and Joseph would have been on a Vespa and Mary would look like Audrey Hepburn. do you think? No, I don't think so you