Yes I am signing out for a week or so, not because I have run out of words to say (as if..!), but because, this morning I received a surprise phone call from the hospital to say that my cataract operation is on Wednesday of this week. I shouldn't have been surprised because I have been waiting for the call, but I was expecting to be given a little more than three days notice. But that's obviously not how it is done over here. So with no time to worry about it, I am tying up a few loose ends, and as I have no idea how well I will be able to see immediately after the operation, it is safer to say that this will be my last blog for a little while. But they won't keep me quiet for too long.
Before I go I will share a few little bits of news. Jean and I had a very nice time for the week she was here. She was very lucky with the weather and it stayed fine and warm all week. We didn't go too far from home, but we did enjoy some lovely strolls along our almost deserted beaches, and paddled in the sea, which is still surprisingly warm (ish). We did, of course, spend one day in my craft room, and when the beautiful set of alcohol ink pens that Chris ordered for my birthday, arrived, we had to spend one evening playing with them. We achieved some very good results, and I am sure that with practise I shall do even better. It was Chris' birthday on the Friday, so that evening we went down to the local bar for a meal. It was their karaoke night and we wouldn't usually go there then. All summer we can hear the singing just sitting in our garden. But it did mean that there was a nice crowd of people in, and there was a good atmosphere. A group of our Spanish neighbours were there and they do love to sing. They weren't very tuneful but they certainly enjoyed themselves, and we enjoyed watching them! There was still some time to lounge in the garden reading and doing our puzzles, so it was a nice relaxing week for us both.
This week I found myself with a big bowl of fresh, ripe figs, (don't they look good?), and although I love to just eat them, they have a very short shelf life, as Jean and I discovered when some I bought the week she was here, went 'off'' when we had only eaten a few of them. So when my friend Jane told me that someone on her forum had posted a good recipe for fig jam/chutney, I decided to give it a go. I managed to get all the ingredients except the crystalised ginger. I was looking for the sort in syrup that we used to buy Dad as a Christmas treat, and was going to use the minced ginger we can buy in jars instead, but in the end I settled for the drier cubes of ginger that we buy to put in cakes etc and it worked fine. It may have been what was intended in the recipe anyway. It also included an interesting mix of spices - cinnamon, mixed spice and curry powder! So I now have some new jars on my larder shelf. It is very good chutney, especially with a sharp, mature cheese.
Yesterday I had my second outing to a Lace Day. It was at El Ejido, just the other side of Roquettas del Mar, which is in turn, just the other side of Almeria city, so it was an hour and a half coach journey to get there. Pam, my lace teacher, invited me to this one a while ago, because it is one of the bigger ones with more trade stalls, and she thought I would enjoy it. Then she said that it had been cancelled, but at the very last minute she contacted me to say it was on again, so I went after all. And I am glad I did, not least because I was able to buy the kit to make a lace fan, that I have been promising myself ever since I started learning to make lace. I now feel confident to tackle the pattern, but all the supplies are incredibly difficult to buy, especially locally, and the lace days are the best opportunity. It was a very different affair from the one at Macael. We calculated that there were at least 500 people there, and Pam and I were the only two non-Spanish ones! It was in a big warehouse, and the whole space was taken up with rows of tables and chairs, all designated for one or other of the groups that were attending. I was there as a guest of the Garrucha group. Once we found our area, we all got out our lace pillows and started working. Pam and I caused quite a stir because our pillows and bobbins are very different from the ones used by the Spanish workers. This photo shows a typical Spanish worker, using the long, bolster style pillow and thick, plain bobbins. They love our coloured spangles (the beads hanging from our bobbins), and lots of people asked if they could take photos just of the bobbins. Quite a few included our work in their photos as well!! We, in turn, had a wander around and looked at what other people were making, and there was some beautiful pieces of work being done. In this photo you can just see that all around the outside of the room, there were the trade stalls, selling everything from patterns and threads to pillows and stands for them. I bought a kit for a tiny little fan which is only for use as an ornament, but it should be fun to do. But when I had only had a couple of lessons, and wasn't sure I would ever get to grips with it, some visitors came to our Wednesday group to show us their work which included a beautiful full-size fan, and I said then that it was my aim to make one one day. So here I am, one year on, with a kit that I am just dying to get on with, but I have to finish the peice I am working on at the minute first. It has been on my pillow for ages because my ham string injury meant that I couldn't sit to the table to work on it, and now my eye operation will delay me further, but when I can once again see where I am supposed to put the pins, I will have it finished very fast and then I shall be able to get on with the fan. As is apparently the norm, there was an entertainment mid-day at the lace day. This time it was dancing by a very talented group of people. The oldest ones danced first and then these girls with their pretty dresses and big white fans did some excellent dances. Lastly a groups of little tots came on. They had simple little dresses on and then they added some rather bizaar, overlarge yellow arm warmers and big boots. But they did a very spirited dance and they were great fun to watch. The Spanish people seem to be born with a sense of rhythm, and even the little ones keep in time with the music. While they were dancing, some men outside cooked a 'gran paella' for our dinner, followed by basket loads of mandarins, from a local garden I suspect. The whole day was very noisy with so many people in a big barn of a room, and we were worn out, so we both had a nice siesta on the way home.
And finally, this evening, in the spare time that I didn't really have, I indulged myself by playing with my photo editing programme, (Corel photoshop XI). I like messing around with my photos, though by this time of night I can't really see what I am doing, and I don't have a steady enough hand to do a really good job of it. But today I started off with individual photos of my two beautiful babies, and here is the result. All Hail King Baggins and Queen Arwen! And on that note I had better say 'Good night'.