Thursday, August 26, 2010

History in the making

Having been stuck at home for most of the passed three weeks, I decided that a trip out would be good, so I asked Chris to drive us around so we could look at the progress being made on the new railway line for the AVE (Spanish high speed train). We watched the early work nearest to us, which we think was mainly the preparation of an access road, that cuts across the campo where we walk the dogs, and they are now busy constructing a bridge which will eventually take our main road down to the coast, over the rail line. (That's our theory anyway). So today we drove a little further to a village called Alfaix, which is close enough to be a part of Los Gallardos, though it's 5-10 minutes drive from our village. Here we saw this impressive structure of steel rods, which we think is the main support for a bridge that will carry the rail line from the concrete junction you can see beyond it, running parallel to the motorway immediately behind it. Then we drove on to Sorbas as everyone talks about the Sorbas section of the work, though, in fact, it is really just outside a little village called Herrerias. We were hoping to see the entrance to the tunnel that is being constructed through the mountains. They have hired a huge piece of very impressive machinery that not only bores through the rock, and conveys all the waste removed back to the entrance, but at the same time, it connects huge sections of concrete reinforcements that will form the actual walls of the tunnel. We were a bit disappointed as the workmen turned us away from the road to the tunnel, but we drove up to the village of Herrerias which is set high on a hill, and from there we had a good view of the power plant that had to be constructed before the work could begin, plus the bridge carrying a small 'train' that was ferrying the waste soil and rock out, and presumabley the concrete rings in. We saw an endless stream of lorries carrying these to the site. The tall arm raising up to the right at the rear of the power plant, is not another bridge. It is a very narrow conveyor of some sort, but at the moment it doesn't seem to be going anywhere. I don't know how much they achieve each day, but they only have the boring machine for a limited time, so they have to crack on with this section of the work. It is a twelve year project all together, but hopefully we will still be here to see the train up and running, and it's quite exciting to see the 'work in progress' to make it all happen.

Herrerias itself was a tiny village mainly made up of plots of agricultural land each with a small cortijo on it. But we stopped and parked in the village square which had the fuente found in almost all mountain villages. The villagers will use this to draw water for their household use. It is free, and usually potable or drinkable. So I drew myself a welcome drink as it was very hot, but Chris was not willing to risk it! I had to take a photo of this little village house with its long row of pots, all sporting brave cacti and other plants. Under the constant barrage of the sun heat, reflected off that white wall, it's quite amazing that anything survived in them.

On a sadder note, another of my little cats fell victim to the road last night. Every night I call them in when I go to bed, and although they are sometimes a bit reluctant, a shake and rattle of their biscuit box usually has them running in. I like them in because, as I said in my last post, the kittens are not very street-wise, and I don't want them disturbing the dogs and making them bark in the night, nor jumping up on our windowsill and yeowling to be let in during the early hours. But last night I had them all indoors except Sombra, and no amount of calling would bring him in. It had been so hot all day and the night was cooler so they were enjoying playing around outside and making up for lost time. In the end I had to give up. I was very tired and needed to go to bed, and I decided to leave him out, and this morning he was dead on the side of the road. I couldn't believe it. Our road is so quiet and I doubt more than half a dozen cars drive up after midnight, so it seems impossible that he could have been there just as one did. Of course, his name means Shadow, and that's what he was, a little dark shadow, so the driver wouldn't have seen him until it was too late. I am really sad. He was a beautiful kitten and had the makings of being a big and beautiful cat. Luna has been quite lost without him today, and has spent a lot of time sitting on me, which she doesn't usually do. So I shall be trying even harder to make sure they are all in at night from now on.

We are having another little heatwave, or perhaps I should say that the weather is back to what we should expect for August. Our thermometer in the shade was registering 38º today, and they are forecasting 40º for tomorrow. But mercifully it should be dropping a few degrees again after the
weekend. It's just coming up to 10.00 at night now, and when I have finished this I will go and have a swim. It is the best way to cool down, though we don't usually sit around outside once we get out of the pool, as that is when the midges like to have a nibble! I love the pool at night when the underwater light is on. It's very relaxing to lay back and watch the patterns made by our waves.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Summer's back!

Well, we have had some very strange weather this month, strange that is for August in southern Spain. We expect unremitting heat, so hot that many of our friends return to UK for a month or more because they can't cope with it. Chris and I have found our own ways of coping, mainly by doing what has to be done as early as possible, and then doing as little possible for the rest of the day! If we are at home, we usually spend the afternoons stretched out on the bed under the fan, either dozing or reading. Then a nice dip in the pool gets us moving again. A dip just before bed is also a lovely way to end the day, and at the minute, the water in our pool is still around 28º at midnight. Having said all that, we have had quite a few days this month when there have been no blue skies to wake up to. Instead we have had black clouds that sometimes hang around all day. Even on these days it is still hot, often over 30º, but still not as hot as we have come to expect in August. When the clouds did clear for the day, they gathered again during the evening and we had a few nights of heavy thunder storms, that scared the dogs, and usually knocked out our television reception, so we've had a few evenings of listening to radio or music instead. Such heavy rain tends to just run off the hard baked land, but it has done some good, and everywhere is greener than it was this time last year. We read in one of our local papers that one night there was four foot of flood water in parts of Mojacar, and serious damage to the road. It must have been a very damp and cool August for people living up in the Cabrera Mountains. One day last week, when we got up, the clouds were so low that the mountains were clearly visible peeking out above them. But now, summer is back with a vengence. It was so hot today that I put the washing out on the line, and half an hour later I was bringing it in again before the shower towels were burnt to a crisp!

I can now sit at my desk for short spells at a time, with a big cushion under me to make it more comfortable, so I decided it was time I made some Christmas cards. i see the anesthetist at the hospital, at the end of September, so I could well get the appointment for my cataract operation before Christmas, and then I won't be able to make cards or anything else for that matter. As it is, I am really struggling to see what I am doing, so I am trying to keep things simple this year, and you will all have to make allowances for my crooked edges and wobbly painting. it is somewhat bizarre to sit here dripping in the heat, and trying to colour in little pots of snowdrops and robins. It just doesn't seem right. But I am making progress with them; about 18 done, and another 150 to go!!

My leg continues to improve, and I can now walk around the house with reasonable ease, though when I just went down the road to the recycling bins yesterday, I was exhausted. My bruise has almost gone, but last week a new one appeared a bit further down behind my knee, which is obviously from a more deep seated bit of the injury and explains why that is where it hurts when I sit down! I still haven't risked driving so I am reliant on other folk to take me places, and so far my only outings have been to my sewing group last Wednesday and church on Sunday. So when Chris said he was going to the garden centre today to look for plants to revamp our rather tired looking window boxes, I jumped at the chance to go along too. There weren't a lot of flowers to choose from this late in the year, but we bought a couple of late petunias, some trailing plants whose name escapes me, and several small kalenchoe which are very long lasting out here. When we got back, Chris carried the boxes out to the table at the back, which remains in the shade until the afternoon, and I sat there spending a happy hour doing 'gardening', while Chris cleaned the windows and mosquito screens. Now it is all back in place, and looking a lot better than it did. (Note I have a cup of tea in my hand - a true gardener can't work without plenty of tea!). I have one fairly big empty pot on the front yard - something that didn't survive - so while we were buying plants I picked up this gorgeous yellow hibiscus. Isn't it beautiful? It remains to be seen how well it does. They don't really like to be constrained in a pot, but I have a red one that is surviving, so there is some hope for this one.

This big green bush, half covering our front door is still the beautiful poinsettia that we bought last Christmas. Of course, there are no little yellow flowers now, nor red bracts, but it is such a healthy plant that we haven't the heart to get rid of it. It makes a welcome patch of shade and Paco likes to lie there undisturbed. The dogs are rarely in the front garden, and I don't encourage the kittens to go out the front door as they have had little opportunity to learn any road sense, so Paco has it all to himself.

I obviously have left it too long since my last blog. I am supposed to be doing lots of short entries instead of these long ones. So my apoplogies for this rambling entry. I'll try to get back to doing it more regularly now.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

On the mend

I think I am really on the mend now. i can walk around the house quite well, if somewhat slowly, stand for limited periods of time, and bend with extreme caution, so i can do a few light tasks around home, which breaks the monotony of sitting still. i thought Id try walking up to the farmacia this morning (about 100 meters from our house) but it took me ages and seemed like an awful long way. Unfortunately the one thing I still can't do is sit on an upright chair. I am balancing half on and half off my chair to write this, so I am getting pins and needles in my foot and will have to move soon. As some of my followers have taken bets that I will have a photo of my bruise, and expressed surprise that I haven't shown one, here it is! Not a very elegant pose, but sufficiently modest to be decent enough to upload! It is beginning to change colour and fade now, but you can see why I need my 'cushtie' bean bag under it, in order to sit even on a comfortable chair. I don't think I shall be driving until it has gone completely.
As I have been photo free for a while, and also have little news to write about, here are a few random shots taken recently around the house. A few months back I planted a mixed set of pepper seeds and here is some of my harvest. The three small red ones are hot and the others are sweet. I have some round purple ones nearly ready to pick. Jean helped me transplant the stronger ones into a bigger pot when she was here in June, but they would have benefited from some fertilizer once the fruit set. I never was very good at feeding the tomatoes at home.
This is a cicada. it is hard to look at this seeming ordinary, if rather large, 'fly, and believe it is capable of joining with its mates to make the huge din we get all day during July and August. They are at it now and it is almost deafening, and sounds like a really bad electrical fault in the overhead wires. This one was foolish enough to torment my cats one evening so they tried to play with it until they manage to release the mosquito net at the window. This shot up, the cicada shot in, and having whizzed around my room a few times, it fried itself in my halogen lamp!
And finally, as i try to just sit back and relax, I could do worse than to take lessons from my cat Baggins. He lays on my desk like a collapsed soufflé. Everything goes soft and he sort of spreads across the table like he's got no bones. I wish I could just let everything go like that!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

One week later ....

I find it hard to believe that tomorrow it will be a whole week since my accident. I am getting used to hobbling around, and am now mobile enough to negotiate the steps into the garden, so when the shade comes around late afternoon, I sit out there for some fresh air and a change of scenery. I am marginally more comfortable standing up or walking, but only very short term. Then the same nagging ache kicks in that I get whatever position I sit or lay in. You suddenly realise just how 'connected up' we are inside, when you hurt one place and feel it everywhere else! My bruise is growing and changing colour which I suppose is what it should do. Maybe, by the time it has faded I will be able to sit on a proper chair, i.e. at the table or my computer desk, instead of semireclined with a bean bag taking the pressure off my thigh, and then I will be able to occupy myself better. So far this week I have read four books, nearly completed a book of sudoku puzzles, and spent a little time on this lap top each day, and I have crocheted a few squares. Unfortunately, to do my lace, I have to sit right up to a proper table.
Chris has been really good to me, and has even managed to sort out my cats, who still need a fair bit of attention. He is fine dealing with the dogs, but he's not really a cat person so normally I see to all their needs. But they are surviving, so he must be doing OK with them. They take it in turns to come and sit with me, but don't understand that even their little bit of weight means they can't actually sit on me right now.
Fortunately for him, (and maybe for me too!) Chris has been spared too much work in the kitchen. His culinary skills are limited, though he is perfectly capable of producing a meal when he has to, but a friend of mine has been very kindly bringing dinners around, so he has only needed to heat them through.
My ears should probably be burning today as I am missing my sewing group, and my friend Yvonne will be telling them all what I have done. She is going to pick me up to take me next week, as I am assuming I will be able to sit down by then, but probably won't be ready to drive.
A big thank you to everyone who has sent cards, e-mails, phone calls. I am very grateful for all your good wishes.
Hopefully I'll be doing something more interesting to write about in my next blog. You know what they say, 'You can't keep a good dog down', and I'll be back in the swing of things as soon as I am able.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Woe is me!

Why? Because I am in pain. As a result of a silly accident on Thursday evening I have a pulled hamstring! Doctors have always said that I have a high pain threshold, but this was something else altogether. Throughout the house we have a reddish/orange mottled marble floor and it is almost impossible to see anything on it. I just came into the kitchen from the garden and I must have stepped on something and my right leg shot out in front of me and I sort of fell after it. I couldn't move so I just laid there and yelled for Chris. He eventually got me onto my back with pillows under the affected leg but it was obvious that I needed more help. Mick, who runs bar El Naranjo, just down the road, called an ambulance and came to interpret for us. The response time was excellent but it took four paramedics plus Chris and Mick to get me on to a stretcher which they inflated around me so I couldn'r move. Then we were off to Huecal- overa hospital. In the ambulance they pumped me full of morphine which made the journey bearable. After a couple of x-rays that showed nothing was broken (apparently one of the paramedics thought I had broken my hip), I was loaded into another ambulance and taken back home with a prescription for diplophenic and instructions to stay in bed until I can walk on it. The attitude of medical staff here is very different from what we are used to in UK, but I couldn't really fault them. They were fast and efficient, and did their best to make me comfortable. So I spent yesterday flat on my back in bed, which wasn't easy. I'm more of curled up in the foetal position sort of sleeper, but that just isn't an option right now. My leg is now most comfortable straight, and I can stand upright, though it feels as though I have lead weights strapped to my leg, but I can't bend down or sit. The back of my thigh is very swollen and I can't put any pressure on it. With the help of Mum's old walking stick I can shuffle as far as the bathroom, which is one blessing, but I won't be running any races for a while. Chris has fixed me up on his laptop which I can just about manage to check my e-mails and facebook, and of course, I have used it to write this, but I can't add any photos until I'm sitting at my own PC again. So please pray for patience for me. It never was one of my finer points! The cats are all taking it in turns to keep me company which is rather nice.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Just Peachy

I am filled with admiration for our mum who always saw to it that we were all ready for a family trip to church every Sunday morning, and still managed to get a full roast dinner on the table afterwards. And I'm sure we didn't have to wait until the middle of the afternoon for it. It's true I live a bit further away from church than we did then, but I'm lucky if my dinner reaches the table by tea-time! One of the things that made Sunday dinner special was that we always had pudding! I admit I still have a sweet tooth and enjoy a pudding though I do have to be a bit careful these days because of the diabetes. Usually our pudding back then was fruit from the garden that was bottled and stored on shelves under the stairs, but occasionally, when the bottles ran out, we would have tinned peaches and custard. The name 'cling peaches' used to facinate me, and I wondered what they clung to. Now I know that they are just a different type of peach and out here they grow abundantly. They are almost giving them away in the market. As well as all the usual fruit stalls selling them, every street corner has someone with crates of them and this week the going rate was €1 for 1 kg. I told a lady I'd have two kilos so she hung a plastic carrier on a spring balance and weighed me out a very generous 2 kg and then added three or four more fruit and said 'un regalo' (a gift), so I have a lot of peaches now. They are not like any we buy in UK. They have a firm bright orange flesh which is lovely as long as they are really ripe. I select a few of the ripest to go in the fruit bowl and gently poach the rest. Once cooked they are exactly like the tinned 'cling peaches' that we are all familiar with. I chop some of mine to eat with yoghurt for breakfast, last week they made a crumble and this week they made a lovely trifle, and any that are left I purree to make a sauce for ice-cream. And the ones still sitting on the table make the kitchen smell lovely. So everything is just peachy right now!