I can't believe we are almost half-way through January, and I blinked and missed it! But here we are at Friday again, and as last week, I have very little to write about. But there have been some silver linings so let's see what we have.
Well, last week my smile was a box of seville oranges gifted to me for marmalade, so this week's smile has to be this mini-mountain of sugar to go with them.
I have a friend who is very active in the Lions Club in Vera. As most of their events take place on a Sunday, I am unable to support many of them, but we have worked together on some projects, so when she was offered a lot of out-of-date preserving sugar at a ridiculously low price, she thought of me and my jam-making for charity. It comes from an English food shop that is closing down, and it is properly clean and dry, free flowing, and still poly-wrapped in trays of ten x 1 kg packets. So the date does not concern me, especially as it is boiled to death anyway when you make jam. I wouldn't usually pay the extra for preserving sugar, but this was too good an opportunity to miss. I said I would take 20 kg, but she caught me when I was not at my best, and somehow I ended up with twice that amount! So I am now well set up for a good few jam making sessions! I have already used some in another batch of marmalade, and tomorrow I hope to use the rest of the oranges before they 'turn'. I have offered some of the sugar to the lady at church who also makes jam for our stall, and I am waiting to hear back from her, but either way, I am sure it will get used eventually.
Also last week, I mentioned that we had walked across to the plaza to see the children receive their gifts from the three kings, but it was chilly and we didn't stay out for long. The next day, Saturday, I had agreed to meet two friends there, for the Three Kings Fiesta. I was still far from well, but this is my favourite fiesta so I didn't want to miss it. Sadly it was a grey, damp day, the first time it has not been sunny for this occasion since we came out here. I was still full of cold, so I wrapped up well in a thick fleece jacket that I brought out with me ten years ago, but have never worn out here. We met up with our friends and joined the crowd that had gathered around the set of King Herod's palace, on the plaza.
As you can see, there were plenty of coats and scarves in use. We don't have too many really bad days, but the Spanish do not like being cold, and they dress up far more in the Winter than the English do. The crowd was also much thinner than usual, but they don't usually let the weather stop a celebration, and soon the King was on his throne, addressing his guards regarding the 'new born king'.
By the time the Wise men rode in on their horses to make their own enquiries, the rain had started and umbrellas appeared throughout the crowd.
It was too cold to stand around for the whole story re-enactment, so we went to a local bar for a hot drink. Then we decided to buy something at one of the food tents and take our friends back with us to eat lunch at our house.
There is always some free food provided at the fiestas, and at this one it is usually migas, which is not the most popular. (It is a type of flour and water paste, cooked until it can be chopped up into little pieces, with cloves of garlic and little sausages in it). But this year it was the much more popular tortilla. This is basically egg, potato and onion mixed and cooked in a huge trough over a wood fire. It is then cut into large slices and served in baguettes. Normally we would have waited for a slice of this, but I had had enough by then, and just wanted to go home. The rain had stopped for a bit, and there were some small patches of blue sky, so we did stand and watch the men pouring the egg mix into the tray, but it would have been another hour before it was ready to eat, so we left them to it. (Halfway through the cooking, a lid is fitted over the trough, and it is rotated through 180º so it can cook from the other side as well).
Behind the men, the colourful heap of material is a big bouncy castle that had to be deflated until the rain stopped. Children were eagerly hopping around waiting for it to rise up again.
I probably would have been better off staying home that day, because the next day I had a relapse and ended up in bed for nearly all of Sunday. Since then I have been very gradually improving. I haven't left the house again all week, but today, Chris took me for essential food shopping. At least I coped with that, though I was glad to be home again. So tonight I had to miss our first choir practice of the new season. I was very disappointed but hopefully I will be able to join in next week. We are starting to work on the music for our Royal Albert Hall Concert in November, so I need to be there if I can.
But like most things, there is a silver lining to being housebound for a week or two. For one thing I have enjoyed reading a trilogy of books about life in the Liverpool docks area just after the war, and the lives of a group of young ladies who had come to the teaching hospital nearby to train as nurses. It is a similar era to 'Call the Midwife'. If that sounds like your sort of story, look for the "Lovely Lane Series" by Nadine Dorries. I recommend them for easy and enjoyable reading.
I have also made a good start on a new crochet project to make another afghan. I follow a lady called Lucy of Attic 24. She does amazing crochet and recently she launched a new Crochet ALong, called Autumn Woodland Walk, which is a ripple pattern in a wonderful array of autumn colours. I love the colour palette but knew I shouldn't attempt another all-in-one blanket. They are just too heavy for me to hold. But her previous CAL was called Summer Harmony Blanket, and it was made up of 100 little squares in bright and sunny colours, and some paler ones for contrast. So I set myself the task of combining these two projects. The little squares appealed to me as being easy to hold, but I prefer the autumn colours. So I got out my colour pegs that I use for choosing a palette for any project, and lined up pegs for her summer colours. I divided them into cooler colours, mid-tones, brights and darks. Then I found the pegs for the autumn colours and lined them up alongside the summer ones until I felt I had a reasonable correlation between them. Here are my autumn colours ready to use.
For the summer blanket, Lucy had provided charts for each round of each colour, and it proved confusing to try and work from those in my new colours, so yesterday, after a quick tutorial on using Open Office from my husband, I manged to 'find and replace' each shade with my new one, so I now have the charts in autumn colours.
The way it works is that you take each colour in turn (17 of them) and make six round one squares. Then you place all 17 balls in front of you, and using the first chart, you place six different coloured centres on each one, and use that ball to work round two of each square. Here are some of mine when they had been sorted, and one ball where the second rounds have been worked.
Then you repeat this using the next chart for round three. So, for example, the six squares in my photo with 'mocha' for their second round, will each have a different colour for round three. It sounds complicated, but with a decent system in place, and Lucy's excellent charts, it is actually quite straight forward. And you end up with 100 (102 if you've done the maths, but you discard 2) squares that are all unique, and Lucy has even given us a chart to show how they are all placed to make up the blanket. I love the colours, but I can't be sure that my choices are right, and I am looking forward to finding out how it all comes together.
There was one new colour in the range that I needed for this, a pale shade of blue-green called lincoln, so I sent an order off last Friday to Wool Warehouse in UK, and my parcel arrived yesterday. They are a wonderful company to trade with and their service is always prompt, but that was even faster than I had expected. So last night I made the missing green centres, and now I am about halfway through the second rounds. I am sure you will be seeing it again when I get further on into the project. By the way, in case you were wondering, I work my ends in as I go along, so there won't be hundred of tails to sew in at the end.
In the same order as the wool, I ordered a set of lovely red buttons for the jacket I am knitting. I am on the last piece now so soon there will just be the sewing up and front ribbings to do. I didn't feel like working on this while I was not well, but now I am a bit better, I want to get it finished, while it is still cold enough to wear it.