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Weekly Edition 044: Saturday 29th December 2001

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by Gary Hardy

Happy New Year 2002

The celebration of the New Year is the oldest of all holidays that can be traced back over four thousand years ago and here on the island the revelry is completely different from the Christmas festivities.

Traditionally New Yearís Eve here on Ibiza is spent partying throughout the night and even some folk manage it throughout New Yearís Day.

The traditional custom not only in Ibiza but also throughout the whole of Spain is that on the last day of the year people wait until 12 oíclock midnight and everybody then has to have twelve grapes ready to eat when the clock starts to chime.

It is tradition to listen to the clock from Puerta del Sol in Madrid when it is midnight and each time the clock chimes, people put a grape in their mouth and by the time the clock has finished chiming, everybody has to have finished eating their grapes and then thatís the beginning of the New Year.

However, itís almost impossible to finish eating the twelve grapes by the time the clock finishes chiming, simply because, itís really difficult to have only a second to swallow each grape and therefore people still have a mouth full of grapes when the climes have well and truly finished.

This custom of eating the twelve grapes originally began in a year when Spain had a huge grape harvest and the King of Spain decided to give grapes to everybody in the country to eat on New Yearís Eve.

I much prefer my grapes to come out of a bottle and into a glass to drink preferably in the form of champagne - but known throughout Spain as Cava - or as I refer to this holy water as ďAgua VerdeĒ green water.

I must admit that you very rarely hear people here refer to this special night as New Yearís Eve but instead itís simply refereed to as Nochevieja - meaning the last night of the old year.

For the past two decades Iíve always celebrated each New Yearís Eve with a small group of twelve to fourteen of my Ibicencan friends where we get together at my house to have a good time on the last night of the old year.

We roast a six-month-old lamb that weighs about twelve to fourteen kilos outside under the stars on a wood and charcoal fire as the Moors traditionally did thousands of years ago. The lamb is prepared first with injections of a good supply of brandy and then it is spread open on an iron frame across the fire. It is turned and biased with a mixture made in a bowl of more brandy, lemons, salt, pepper and wild rosemary.

The lamb takes, depending on its weight; about four hours to gently roast and believe me this is definitely the best way of cooking to enjoy eating a young lamb. Jacket potatoes are also roasted at the same time with the lamb.

Our starter to the evening meal is nearly always excellent fish soup and everybody attending has his or her job to do throughout the preparation of the meal with obviously the help of a continuous flow of top quality bottles of vinos and cavas.

In fact weíre normally all far too busy eating, drinking, talking and generally enjoying ourselves that nobody ever seems to take notices of the time on the clock to ever remember the grapes until itís time for desert at gone 2 oíclock or 3 oíclock in the morning.

My Good Friend Trias Roasting the Lamb
Picture © Gary Hardy (31.12.1997)


End of the old year: I noticed an article with a colour picture in yesterdayís Daily Telegraph, which reported on Cherie Blairís casual fashion of next summerís Ibiza circa í71 style. But what about her dragon flares she was spotted wearing on Tony and Cherieís visit to the site of the Sphinx in Cairo on Thursday of this week?

Cherie's dragon flares fail to inspire
By Julia Robson Deputy Fashion Editor of The Daily Telegraph
(Filed: 28/12/2001)

CHERIE BLAIR'S private holiday wardrobe was aired very publicly in Cairo yesterday. Here, in front of one of the wonders of the world - the Pyramids of Giza - the Prime Minister's wife appeared to have made another fashion mistake.

While her husband opted for signature Jeremy Clarkson-esque jeans and a trendy, two-tone "Skate" T-shirt, Cherie ditched her favourite designers - Ronit Zilkha, Louise Kennedy and Roman Keflay - and embraced next summer's Ibiza circa '71 style with just a little too much gusto. Her mix-and-match ensemble, although forward thinking in fashion terms, was just a bit home-made.

Dressed in an Egyptian-white, smock tunic (could this be a leftover from her maternity wardrobe?) that billowed out like the Great Pyramid itself, Mrs Blair failed to gain style points for her trousers.

Just what was the pattern that appeared to curl and coil around her slender legs?

Was it Harry Potter-style dragons that hung in blotches from flared ankles right up to tight thigh?

Although Chinese embroidered dragons have decorated many a pair of baggy trousers worn by pop stars and celebrities from Madonna and All Saints to the Beckhams, the cult brand Maharishi has moved on and dragons have disappeared in the sands of time.

Customised jeans, which also dominated fashion, are now considered "cool" only by nine- to 13-year-old tweenies.

Picture Courtesy of Reuters

Gary Hardy

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