Friday, May 19, 2017

Rocking Your World 2017: Week 20

Hi. I am here with a fast but photo heavy post. We are going out in an hour so here goes. I'll start with my Smile of the week - our son Ben wearing my straw sun hat because he needed to shade his eyes to read his book.

Ben and his partner Dave arrived last Saturday morning and were immediately thrown into village life as it was the fiesta for San Isidro.  There were local horse owners riding through the streets, as well as the village band playing.

After a mass at the church, they followed a small cart bearing the statue of San Isidro, as it made its way through the streets and up to the sports-recreational area at the top of the village.
We arrived in time to find a space for our chairs, and we joined the many families who had gathered to enjoy what was a beautiful, sunny day.
The highlight is the 'Grand Paella' traditionally provided by the Town Hall, which is free to all comers. Because San Isidro is the saint of the poorer villagers who are agricultural workers and fishermen, the paella is decorated with flowers made from fruit and it looks lovely.
At around 2.00 everyone lines up and huge portions are handed out to everyone along with bread, and we all find a corner to sit and eat, in the shade of a tree if possible. Our visitors enjoyed their's.
After that we went back to the house so Ben and Dave could have a siesta, as they had left home at 4.00 that morning to get to the airport. (We had a siesta too but in fairness we had to leave at 8.30 to go and collect them).

Well rested we set off for Turre for a karaoke session at a little bar we have been to before - because Ben does love to sing. It turned out that there was a big function in Turre that night so there were far less people than usual in the bar, so he ended up singing at least a dozen songs, which were very much appreciated.
It was almost midnight when we got home but we had a wander up to the top of our road to see how the village folk finish off their fiesta celebration. A stage is built across the road and band with singers entertain from around 11.30 until the early hours of the next morning. Spanish folk love to dance, and there were several couples 'getting into the groove' just below the stage.
Although it was so late, there were people milling around, and the street was quite crowded up by the stage. There were a couple of street bars set up, so we stayed for a drink and then we left them to have a good time and went home to bed.

Ben is keen to get back to full fitness after his cycling accident in February so he is following a running schedule that he wanted to keep going while he is over here. It is a bit warm for running now, but he has done very well. This was his facebook post after his first run. At least he took time to appreciate the pretty jacaranda trees in full bloom along the front of the village.
As you can see, he has also made good use of our pool, so it was worth Chris' while to get it in Summer condition, ready for their visit.

Since his run, the main road has been somewhat disrupted as they have finally started work on a roundabout that has been promised for months, if not years. Opposite the village there is an urbanisation called Huerta Nueva (New orchard/garden), and it is difficult to cross the busy main road to get to its lead-in road. There have been some fatal accidents there, and it was decided to build a roundabout which will make access easier and slow down the heavy lorries that use that road to get down to Garrucha docks. As we understand it, there will, be pedestrian access to H.N. via a pelican traffic light system, giving pedestrians priority over traffic. We will see when it is all done. Here is an aerial photo of the road posted by the local authority. The white circle shows where the roundabout will be, and if you click on it to enlarge it, directly to the right of it there is a small blue cross which marks where our house is.
The project is going to take two months to complete, but I think it will be a real improvement when it is done.

We have sort of been alternating between eating at home one day, and out the next, and last night we decided to have a barbecue at home. Our barbecue is housed inside a small enclosure which gives the 'chef' some shade from the mid-summer sun which can make manning it quite an ordeal. Last night Ben took on the role of chef and a good job he made of it too.

Markets are not dad's idea of a fun way to pass the time, but this morning I took Ben and Dave to the market in Garrucha. They took the chance to buy a couple of shirts etc and then we walked back to the car along the sea-front. They have been together for almost 13 years, and five years ago they had a Civil Partnership ceremony. Today is their fifth anniversary so here is their anniversary photo taken with the gravel barge in Gurrucha harbour in the background.
We were going out for a celebration meal tonight but we decided to defer it until tomorrow so we could go for another karaoke session tonight.

So now I must go and get ready but I will leave you with one more photo. Not a sun set this time. Instead it a perfect sun-halo that we spotted yesterday, apparently made by the sun's rays passing through ice crystals in the cirrus clouds around it. It was an interesting sight to see.

Now I will link up with Annie's Friday Smiles and Rocking Your World, and will be back tomorrow to read all your happy posts.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Rocking Your World 2017: Week 19

Well another week has come and gone. Don't ask me where it went because I have no idea, but I will look back and try to remember all the best bits.

I'll start with our two wonderful choir concerts at the weekend. It was a so much better venue than we had the previous week, so we could sing our hearts out and know folk were hearing us properly. We had a standing ovation on Saturday, and so much lovely feedback, which made all the hard work worthwhile. These concerts were organised by the local animal rescue charity, and they were very grateful for the money that was raised.
Our MD, David, took the opportunity to announce some news that we have been keeping to ourselves for a while. Next year, in October 2018, we have been invited to sing in the Royal Albert Hall with around 1,500 other singers, and a huge joint band, at the last ever "Cancer Research UK Festival of Brass & Voices". It is very exciting, and the only downside is that absolutely no music or word books are allowed, so we have to be word and note perfect on 14 songs with no crib sheets! Easy when you are a young singer, but quite a challenge for us oldies. But hopefully we will have the arrangements soon, so we can start learning them.

After the excitement of the weekend, the rest of the week has been fairly routine. I have again stayed at home more than usual, to avoid over use of our ailing car, but I am happy to say it was fixed yesterday, so we are back to normal now.

I am especially glad of that as tomorrow morning we have an early drive to the airport again to collect Ben and Dave who will be with us for twelve days this time. Ben had accumulated some extra holiday because his booked leave came while he was off work on sick leave, so he got to use it again. Added to this he founds flights out for just £19.99, so we have two more weeks of their company which always makes me smile.

My first photo this week was sent to me by my grand-daughter. It is her little boy and his best buddy - both aged six. They are in their own little world and it is lovely to see them enjoying time together out in the fresh air. I wonder what they are talking about?!

I was right about my amaryllis coming out this week. It has this beautiful head of flowers on it now.

What's more, high above it there is another bunch of buds just ready to open. I was surprised when I saw it as this is the older bulb that did nothing last year, and I had thought it was dead! I was expecting it to be the white one I had last year, but that one is apparently resting this year. This pink and white one is possibly the most hardy type, because I have seen them flowering in quite a lot of gardens this year. It still seems strange to have them in the garden. In UK they are always a house-plant, often given as a gift at Christmas. I don't think they would survive an English Winter outside.

Because we had to take the car over to our mechanic friend's workshop again yesterday, we put the dogs in the back so they could have a nice long walk home. The thistles we saw last time are in flower everywhere, and now they are interspersed with the pretty blue chicory flowers. They were everywhere, and although they are small flowers, the plants are often quite tall, and they stood out from the dark foliage and looked really pretty.
We did a slight detour to an ornamental lake in the centre of the urbanisation, to see if there were any baby birds. A few years ago the residents clubbed together to buy a few ducks to go on the lake and they have thrived there. Sure enough there were some proud parents near the bridge with two little fluffy chicks by them. I loved the little yellow one, but had to wonder whether there had been some inter-breeding between the dark and white adults.
Soon they were joined by more chicks. They were so fluffy, they must be quite newly hatched. The rest were all dark, but I see one of these has a yellow head. I'll have to go back in a month or two and see how they have all turned out.
It reminded me of my childhood spent in Parkstone, Dorset. We were always taken to Poole Park to see the baby chicks in Spring. There was a huge lake there and a wide variety of water birds, but our little lake is a real novelty for local children. Duck ponds are few and far between in this hot land! It is nice to know the birds are happy enough there to breed.

I have spent a lot of time this week making favour boxes for our son's wedding in July. I needed seventy of them, but my Silhouette cameo machine made the cutting of them all easier than it might have been if I had had to do them by hand. They are made to match the invitations I made for them a while back, cut from black card with gold art-deco decorations on the sides. We settled on a design that I can take with me flat, and they fold up and stay together without glue, so it will give us something to do in the days leading up to the event. Now I just have to make the post box for cards, and decorate the cover of the guest book. A wedding in the family is something nice to look forward to.

With visitors coming tomorrow, I spent the last two days making up the spare room bed, tidying the house and this afternoon I had a massive baking session. It is not just for the boys, though I know they like a bit of home-made cake, but also it is my turn to do church teas on Sunday, so I needed some cakes for that. So I have made big tray bakes of triple gingerbread, sticky date and apricot cake, a coffee and walnut cake, a light fruit cake, and everyone's favourite, lemon drizzle cake. The smells in the kitchen are a bit confused, but lovely all the same.

Poor Chris has been battling all week to get the pool clean and ready for Ben to have a dip if he wants to. The water temperature is 23ยบ so it is warm enough for me to have a quick swim, though I am not sure I'll stay in it for long yet. The trouble is, it has been very windy, so as soon as he has skimmed it of leaves etc, a new lot of debris is blown in. But he gave it one last hoover on the bottom today, and it looks very inviting. Now we just hope they have plenty of sun to enjoy it.

It has got a lot warmer this week. In fact I put our duvet away today, so we just have an empty cover on the bed, and a light blanket to pull up if we need it. As soon as the evenings stay warmer we know summer is really on the way. The wind is often a bit fierce at this time of year but it doesn't usually blow for long. It does blow in a few light clouds, and yesterday we half expected a shower, but it blew over again. However that did provide us with a nice sunset. I was busy in the kitchen and saw the first golden streaks arriving, and I took photos every five minutes or so, as it got brighter, then turned to orange, with a final burst of fiery red before it disappeared as quickly as it came.

Now I will link up with Annie's Friday Smiles and Rocking Your World. I will do my best to write a post next week, but if I don't, you will know I have been busy with my family and I'll get back when I can.