Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Today we fulfilled our promise and took Jonathan up to the Sierra Nevada to see the snow. It was another beautiful day so the scenery was stunning. It wasn't even that cold and we didn't need our coats. It takes a couple of hours to get up there, and all the way the road is flanked by mountains, some with snow on and some without, but all looking very beautiful. There is only one winter sports resort on the Nevada and the parking was pretty full, but we waited around and in the end we found a slot. The resort was busy and there was a great atmosphere up there. The was a lot of colour and people who had come off the slopes were sitting at the tables all across the square, eating, drinking or just relaxing after their exercise in the snow. We took loads of photos, so some of them will be on my gallery. On the way down we stopped at a few view points. We came back by a different route, driving straight down to the coast at Motril and driving back all along the motorway which runs right by the sea. It was another new road for us with lovely scenery. I didn't fancy cooking when we got back, so we detoured to San Juan and had a nice meal there. We'll be having a quiet day tomorrow, just a quick trip to check the mail box and pick up a few bits from the supermarket and then we can relax. This will be my last blog for a few days, but I expect I'll be back on Boxing Day.
So a very Happy Christmas to all my followers!!
Monday, December 22, 2008
Today we experienced a truly Spanish occasion - harvesting the olives. Chris' sister Mary and her husband Bill own a 'cortijo' on the edge of the little mountain village of Velez Blanco. It has a lot of land which is planted with many different kinds of fruit trees and around seventy olive trees, and now is the time to pick the olives. So we went to visit for the day and lend our hands to the picking at the same time. It was a beautiful day and although we were at quite a high altitude, it was still really warm, and we soon shed the extra layers of clothes we had worn. We had thought that the idea was to shake the trees but olives are more tenacious than that, and shaking doesn't shift them. What you do is spread wide nets over all the ground under the trees. Then you have a long pole with a sort of plastic rake on it, and you rake it through the branches. The leaves slide through the tines and the olives are pulled off to collect in the nets. I raked the lower branches and Chris the higher ones. Bill went up a ladder to do the outside branches and Jonathan, who is still at home in a tree, climbed up the middle to clear the centre ones. When the tree was empty we sorted through the olives to remove the twigs and leaves and then they were put into crates and sacks ready to go to the press. Apparently the olive press opens on the first day of December and accepts olives until the end of January, so it's important to clear your trees quickly. When you take your olives there they go through a sort of wind machine to get rid of any remaining debris and then they are weighed. You get back litres of extra virgin olive oil, according to how many olives you sent. The press keep the olives to press again to make a lower grade of oil which is their 'payment'. Mary and Bill hope to get around 200 litres of oil. Most Spaniards who have land grow olive trees as the oil is part of their staple diet. They drizzle it on their bread instead of butter (I presume this is because butter is unstable in the heat for most of the year), as well as using it freely in their cooking. When it's time to pick the olives they bring in all the family to help and usually finish in a day. We managed four trees between us, so there are a lot more to do!
While we were olive picking, Mary was cooking a lovely Christmas dinner, so this evening we sat by a roaring log fire (olive wood of course!) and ate roast turkey with all the trimmings. We caught up on news of all our respective families and we showed them the photos of our new house, and then we had a long drive home in the dark. The stars were magic. It was a lovely day and a truly Spanish experience. (There will be more photos on my gallery).
Sunday, December 21, 2008
It seemed strange to go to church this morning on a beautiful, warm, sunny day, to attend a traditional festival of nine lessons and carols, but that's what I did. This is a photo of the little church I go to. We are a small gathering of around thirty people from a wide range of denominations, and I enjoy the fellowship with them. We had our Christmas service today as most of the congregation are going back to England for a few days now, and there are not enough of us left to have a Christmas Day service, nor one on Sunday 28th. We are back on 4th January and we have a visiting speaker from Lansdowne Baptist Church, where I went as a small child to take part in Christian Endeavour pageants! Today I did one of the readings and it was nice to take an active part in the service. After our services we sit out on the patio and chat together over a cup of tea or coffee, and if we are lucky, a slice of cake. Last week was chilly and we had to cram into the little kitchen, but today we shared some lovely mince pies out in the sun.Chris and Jonathan came to collect me after the service and we spent the afternoon giving Jonathan a tour of the local beaches and villages.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Today was the day for Jonathan to arrive here to spend Christmas with us. Gatwick is his closest airport and from there the flights come to Murcia so this morning we set off to collect him. This is a new route and we have not travelled it before. We thought we might not make it in time for his arrival as the first road we followed (as suggested by the sat nav) turned out to be completely closed for road works, with no directions for an alternative route. So we went round in circles for a while until we found ourselves back where we started, and were able to branch off in a new direction which soon brought us to the motorway. This is a new toll road running from Aguilas, all the way to the airport. It opened last year and has made it a very easy journey which should take just over an hour; well worth the €8.50 toll, as the old road took much longer. As with all new places that we visit, I went armed with the camera and took a 'few' photos along the way. The scenery was very lovely; layer after layer of green hills, with fields of salad vegetables and orange groves at the base of them. Unlike the Welsh who build their roads around every hill, the Spanish go through them, so there were several stretches of wide, well lit tunnels. Looking at this picture you can be forgiven for thinking 'New road. Where's the traffic?' The answer is, 'There wasn't any' or hardly any. Until we reached the outskirts of San Javier, where the airport is, we hardly saw another vehicle. Eventually we arrived, just five minutes before Jonathan appeared through the arrivals gate. It was a beautiful day for him to see our little flat. We had a late lunch up on the roof and then walked along our beach and back, before catching the last of the 'rays' on a lounger up on the roof again. Lets hope the weather holds for a while, so we can show him the best side of our chosen corner of Spain.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Do we look like a happy couple? We should do. We are drinking a toast to our future, after signing the contract to buy a lovely house here in Spain. We went to our solicitor in Mojacar this morning to sign the document and then returned home to spend a warm sunny afternoon on the roof terrace with a good book and a bottle of wine. I don't need to add anything further here as all the family should have received a private message with more details. So now we can sit back and enjoy Christmas, and then it will be time to start packing up here and moving on. I can't wait to have all my own things around me again.Here's to 2009, and the start of a new chapter in the lives of Kate and Chris!
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
About seven years ago, I think, we took Jonathan and Ben on holiday to a camp site at Platja d'Aro on the Costa Brava. While we were there I spotted this counted cross stitch kit in a little shop, and loved the picture so much that I bought it. When I got it home I realised it was quite a challenge. The fabric is even-weave and there were so many different colours of thread, several of them with only one shade difference between them. I did a little bit and then put it aside while I did a simpler one. I have completed several small projects since then, but every now and then I got this one out and did a little bit more. After six years or so, I had completed about half of the design. So I brought it with me for our six months in Spain. I know from previous holidays that the light out here is very good for sewing. Most days we go out in the morning, come home for a late lunch, and then relax all afternoon. As you will have read in my blog, I often use this time to sit up on the roof terrace and do some sewing, and my perseverance has paid off, because today I finished my picture! It had been hanging around for so long that it was very grubby so I washed it and it has come up fine. I shall wait until I get home to have it framed as I know a lady near Oswestry who does them so well. She framed that nice piece of sewing that we brought back from Thailand.The only problem now is that we are only three months into our holiday. What am I going to do now?
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
We are feeling really happy for two of our boys this week.
Jonathan has spent his life trying to get in a good band, and it has paid off for him this week. He is drummer for a rock band called Blackstorm, and they have done several gigs around Brighton, but tonight they are the 'unsigned band of the week' on the Radio one Rock Show. They are on the programme listing between Black Sabbath and Mastodon, two of the greatest rock bands ever, so he is thrilled. They will be played between one and two in the morning, that's between two and three for us, but we will stay up to listen for him. Jonathan's band
Ben enjoys the occasions when he plays and performs the songs he writes, but he is really interested in getting involved with composing music for films, adverts etc. For a while now he has been in contact with a company called Television Junction, who produce this kind of music, and tomorrow he has been invited to spend some time with them, shadowing their 'resident composer', and finding out more about how it is done. Hopefully this will eventually lead to some work for him. Ben's songs
So it is a good week for our boys and that makes it a good week for us as well. Now I'd better set the alarm in case I drop off, or drink a few cans of coke to keep me awake!
P.S. We had another fantastic sunset tonight. I didn't want to bore you with more photos on here but I have added some to the 'Sea and sky' folder on my gallery.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Further to my previous blog regarding the ruins along the coast near here, I thought you might be interested to know that they are the remnant of buildings from the time of an iron and silver mining boom, in the 19th century. A gentleman, whose computer alerts him to any reference to Villaricos, came upon my blog and sent me the following link with information about the area. You might like to read about it too.Click here for link
On a very different topic, I am feeling quite pleased with myself because after several days of struggling, (with a little help from a long-suffering Chris) I have finally mastered a fairly complex photo editing program that I purchased several years ago and have never got to grips with, sufficiently to use it to produce an image for an art stamp to use in my craft. I can't post a photo of it here as it makes use of a photo of one of my grandsons, but you may get a card with it on one day. Basically it involved producing a collage-type background, cutting a person from a photo and superimposing them on the background. I am quite pleased with the result. The stamp I have made with it isn't quite right yet but the fault lies with my printer that will not produce a black enough image on acetate, but the makers of my stamp-making kit are sending me an alternative paper to try. If that doesn't work I shall have to wait until I get my laser printer back out of storage next year. Now all I have to do is remember how I did it, so that one day I can have another go!
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Ever since we explored the first part of our coastline, I have been waiting to 'do' the rest of it. Today was a bright, sunny day with a clear blue sky, but it was fairly cool. Just perfect conditions for walking, so I suggested we went back to our explorations. We drove as far as a sign pointing down to Playa de la Invencible, named I suspect, after the many fortifications around there, though now only ruins remain. We drive this route most days and I have always wanted to look closer at the ruins. The first part, perhaps because of the historical nature of the area, has benefitted from investment, and has a good pathway right down to the beach, with viewpoints along the way. From there we struck out along dirt tracks, some leading down to the water's adge, and others taking us to the top of the cliffs where the wind suddenly caught us so strongly it was hard to walk into. Down between the ridges it was sheltered. We took our jackets but left them in the car because we didn't need them. I erred on the cautious side and added an extra layer of woollies, but I wished I hadn't. I didn't need it but I didn't want to carry it so I kept it on, but it was quite warm in the sun. The ruins were interesting. One small one looked like a chapel, but we're not sure. I am using the net to try to find out more about them. There were lots of wild flowers along the paths. I picked a small bunch of wild lavendar which was everywhere, along with rosemary and oregano. As we brushed against them, the air was full of their scents. We thought the green factory on the edge of Villaricos, which although it is a bit of an eyesore, actually blends in quite well so it doesn't spoil the view too much, was possibly a desalination plant, but we have been told it is a factory making antibiotics for export. We walked as far as Villaricos, and were out for about an hour and a half. With our lovely round hills on one side, a sparkling ocean on the other, and really interesting scenery all around, it was a lovely morning out, and I'm sure you can see why we love this stretch of coastline. There is a folder of photos (Playa de la Invencible) on my gallery.
This afternoon I sat up on the roof terrace doing my sewing and rescuing my washing everytime it blew away. It hit the deck so many times it probably ended up dirtier than it was before I washed it! But there isn't much space in the flat so it is good to get the washing dry outside whenever I can.
Monday, December 8, 2008
It's been a funny old day today. It hasn't really been cold, but it has been overcast and this afternoon it started to rain, lightly but steadily, and now we are in the middle of a thunderstorm. So I decided it was a good day to stay home and make a couple of birthday cards that I need for early in the new year. You're probably wondering why there is yet another 'sea and sky' photo at the end of this. Well, I was busy working away on my cards when Chris called me to see something from the verandah. The whole view of the sea and sky was grey and there was a dark line that clearly denoted the division between them, i.e. the horizon. Then I looked again where Chris was pointing, and above the aforementioned horizon there was a ship, apparently floating in the clouds! I took a photo, and when I downloaded it to the computer I could just see a feint second line beyond the ship which must be the actual horizon, but this hadn't been visible to our eyes. So here's my photo of a floating ship. Not very exciting, but my only offering for today!
Sunday, December 7, 2008
I really must stop using song titles to label my blog entries. This is one of my favourites by Foster and Allen. Still, there's propbably not many of you who listen to quite the same electic mix of music as me, so maybe you wouldn't have known if I hadn't told you! Anyway, I woke up in time to watch the sunrise this morning, though it didn't really quite manage it! But the sky was a lovely pink, a real rival to some of our sunsets. I didn't want to bother you with yet more sky photos, but I had to include this one.; I was quite pleased with it. The sun was already up in the sky but obscured by clouds, when at around 8.15 it managed to break through a gap and made a lovely line of reflected light in the sea. And caught in the beam, was a 'lonesome boatman', no doubt hoping to catch a fish for his breakfast. You'll probably need to click on my picture to enlarge it, to even see him. How vast the sea must have seemed to him, out there in his tiny boat. I'm glad I was the one on terra firma!
Saturday, December 6, 2008
Hi everyone. It's been one of those inbetween days; neither sunny nor wet nor anything else remarkable. It was overcast most of the day but quite warm, (19º all day), but much too windy to sit outside. So I did a bit of ironing and a few other mundane things, and the day soon went. Then just as I was about to close the shutters and 'shut up shop' for the day, I glimpsed this amazing sky, so of course I found my camera. We both went up on the roof where the view is less interrupted by buildings and there were three distinct areas of sky. To the front on the left there was a huge funnel of pink cloud that gradually turned dark grey. To the right there were stripes of gold and orange which darkened and melted into one another. But out at the back there was what looked like a pot of boiling oil, swirls of a sulphurous yellow churning around. This changed to pink and then orange, and within half an hour it was a firey red and then it was gone. You have to be quick or you miss these lovely scenes, and I was just lucky enough to see it today, so I'm sharing it with you. Of course I took more photos than this, and tomorrow I will put some of them in my 'sea and sky' folder in my gallery. Unfortunately, non of them really do it justice, but it's the best I can do. Our neighbour was up on his roof photographing it too. I wonder what his are like?
Thursday, December 4, 2008
I know that we are now into December, and Christmas is only three week away, but it is hard to feel Christmassy here, especially on a day like today. As you can see, we had a beautiful morning and we sat out on the verandah with our cups of tea, soaking up the sunshine. The thermometer, tucked away in the shade, was registering 14º but it felt warmer than that and we soon shed our woollies. It cooled down a bit after lunch, but I changed into trousers and a jumper and I was still comfortable sitting outside to do some more of my sewing. Of course it was still cool in the flat and I'm glad to have my socks back on this evening!
I have finished making Christmas cards and they are all written and posted, so I decided it was time to try and inject a hint of Christmas into the flat. I bought a beautiful poinsettia in the supermarket yesterday, and the sun shining in on it this morning made me very glad I did. I bought a small sparkley cone (not quite a tree), and some baubles like a bunch of grapes that I have hung from the curtain rail. Then I found two tubes of lights that I bought in Thailand, cut off their plugs and wired on some Spanish ones, and hung them either side of the window It's very minimilist for me. I love the decorations and usually I still deck the house out like I did when the boys were small, but it's better than nothing and now I really do feel that Christmas is on its way.