Folks out here are starting to complain about the cold, but we are just enjoying the late autumn sunshine. Yes it is a bit chilly in the evenings, so we make sure the windows and shutters are closed at sun-down. If necessary we change into trousers and socks for the evening, and we've even lit the gas fire for a few hours if we settle down in front of the television, but it's not far off midnight now and I am only wearing a skirt and tee-shirt, and my halogen lamp is providing more than enough warmth in my craft room. We have had a few days of much needed rain, but the days in between have been lovely and sunny. We have both enjoyed relaxing in the garden. We still eat our mid-day meal outside whenever we can, with the back porch providing shelter from the wind. On Thursday I spent all afternoon out there doing my lace, and I only came in when it became too dark to see what I was doing. You can see in this picture that the sun is low and is casting long shadows, but it was lovely to be outside without feeling too hot, or too cold.
The wet days were a good opportunity to get on with making mince pies, and they are all 'done and dusted' now. Here is one mornings work. That's eleven dozen there, but altogether I have made around forty-two dozen. Most are ordered. There were some inevitable breakages which Chris and I have eaten!, I've put some in the larder for us, and the last few will sell at our Christmas get-together for church on Tuesday. We are going to the bar/restaurant where we used to meet for our Sunday services. Eileen, the owner, has organised a small table-top sale around the pool for the first hour, and we have one table to sell items for church funds. Then we are putting that away and singing some carols, and then all having a Christmas dinner together. It should be a good day and I am looking forward to it. Last night I went to a candle-lit carol service at the church in Turre. This is where we meet each Wednesday for our craft group, and we are always invited to the carol service so we like to support them, but I have to say it was very 'ordinary'. There were pretty candles all around the room (no health and safety here!), the words were on a screen at the front, the music was recorded, and it was just carol, reading, carol, reading, with no talking between them, and not even an opening or closing prayer. It was nice to join in with the old favourites, but I didn't come away feeling I had been at a special occasion. I guess that's the way they like it, but I bet ours will be a lot more relaxed and congenial. Our proper carol service is on the morning of the 19th, because we wanted it to be in our own building for our first Christmas here, which is why we are going to the Palms on Tuesday.
I spent a nice afternoon on Monday, putting up my Christmas decorations. I love doing the tree. All the decorations are carefully stored away in tissue paper, and as I unwrap each one, it reminds me of a family member, something I did with the boys, a special occasion, or just something I liked and bought. We have had the same tree for about thirty years! Jim and Michael were quite small boys when they went to South Harrow with me on a bus to buy it, in the days before we had a car. Every year I used to buy one new decoration (sometimes more!) and, of course, sometimes one was broken and had to be thrown away, so now it is fairly laden, but everything is so special to me, and I love having it by my chair to look at for a few weeks each year. We don't have a lot of other decorations apart from candles, but I still get out the nativity set that I made from felt and cardboard, many, many moons ago. It is battered and stained, but I wanted the boys to be very clear about the reason we celebrate Christmas, and the nativity set had pride of place every year. I can't bear to part with it, even though it is well past its best. On our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary, Chris took me to Arizona. This was partly to visit his brother who lives in Phoenix, but also so we could fulfil my dream of going to the Grand Canyon. While we were there we visited a tiny church, high up in the mountains, near a village called Sedona, and in their shop I bought this Native American nativity. It took my fancy with the angel on a teepee, and the wolf and buffalo standing by, so now that sits on the hall table under my candlesticks that spell out the word Joy. I don't think many of the retired Brits bother much with decorations out here, but I shan't give up on mine until I am too old to go up a ladder to fix them.
Of course, pretty things hanging from the branches of a tree are a big attraction for the cats. Luna simply will not leave them alone, so she is banned from the sitting room unless I am in there with her. Paco is usually outside in the day time, and he hasn't shown much interest in the tree so far. But Baggins and Arwen have started to come out of my room to spend the mornings on a more comfortable chair in the sitting room. They were a bit non-plussed when I moved the furniture to make a space by the window for the tree, and the only place for the foot-stall (Baggins favourite seat) was right next to it. I thought that might be tempting fate so I swapped it around with my mahogany root chair. Arwen sat on it and gazed at the decorations, but she knew I was watching her, and in the end she moved away. Then Baggins sat there, his eyes round with interest and in the end the temptation proved too much, and he had to investigate. He moves slowly but once he has his claws into something he can't retract them and I thought he might pull the whole lot down, so I made him get down. He turned his back on me and sulked then, but soon they were both back in their normal state - asleep, and so far they have left it alone since then!
I have a busy week this week, with the Christmas Fayre on Tuesday, our craft group annual outing on Wednesday, and on Thursday I go back to the hospital for an eye test and hopefully a prescription for new glasses. Our outing this year is to Granada. I don't particularly want to browse the shops for anything, but I am looking forward to seeing how the city is decorated for Christmas. It is a long ride in the coach, so I have to be at the pick-up point for eight in the morning, and we won't back until between ten and eleven at night, so I'm glad my hospital appointment the next day isn't too early. I expect I had better go and get some beauty sleep now, so I'll bid you all Good-night.