Saturday, February 26, 2011


Of all our cats, Luna is the most natural hunter. Her speciality seems to be the very large grasshoppers that abound in the greenery at the back of us. I often rescue them and put them back out there, but sometimes she manages to munch through their rather tough skin, and then she is sick! The others don't move fast enough to catch much though they often join in with the game of playing with her spoils.

This week she out-did herself when I found her mewing gently in the kitchen, and there on the floor was this little fellow. My first thought was 'Oh dear. She's caught a ghecko'. I still think of them as chit-chats, the name we gave them in Cyprus. They are welcome visitors as they feed on mosquitoes and other flying bugs that annoy us all summer. I picked him up and he sat very still on my hand. I quickly realised this was no chit-chat. They move like grease lightening. He was probably in shock, and he had lost the end of his tail, either from this encounter or an earlier one. I wanted to take a photo so I could look him up on the internet and try to identify him, and while I was doing this he bit me! Now there's gratitude for you. I nearly gave him back to the cats I had just rescued him from. I have no idea whether or not lizards have teeth, but he could sure clamp on hard with his jaws for such a little fellow! The first thing I noticed was that unlike the gheckos that have suckers on each toe, enabling them to scamper across ceilings and up vertical walls, this little creature had long digits with a fierce claw on each one. He also had very distinctive colours and markings, and almost crocodile skin on the top of his head. After a long search I did identify him as an Algerian Psammodromus. The Spanish Psammodromus had quite different markings, but I suppose we are actually quite close to Algiers, so he wasn't too far away from home. I put him in a sunny spot outside and left him to recover.

The next day, to my surprise, Luna brought in a second one of these lizards. It was definitely a different one as it had a slightly longer tail and different injuries. I am not sure whether this one was going to survive, but I put him in a quiet spot and hoped for the best.

Luna was obviously having a good week, because yesterday, when i was sweeping through the house, I nearly swept up another visitor. This time it was a proper ghecko! Here he is. You can see he is really quite different. He didn't want to hang around to be looked at, but I managed to gently anchor his tail between my fingers just long enough to take this picture, and then I let him go outside, and he disappeared immediately.

I suppose some people would say I should let the cat have them and not interfer with nature, but Luna is only a baby and I am not sure she has enough sense to know what she can and can't eat, and somehow I can't just leave a defenceless little creature to die, not in my house anyway. Maybe one day she will learn not to bring her captives home. What she gets up to in next doors garden I have no idea, and I don't really want to know!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Man at work!

There are quite a few things that need to be done in and out of the house, some very minor and others more important, so I have drawn up a list of 'Things to do this year'! Chris hasn't seen the list yet, but he knows most of what's on it anyway, and this week he has tackled a couple of the more urgent tasks. We have had some very windy days lately and the roof of the dogs house was in danger of taking off. It is two layers of wired bamboo with thick black plastic sheeting between them. The top layer had lifted in the wind and frightened the dogs so we had them indoors for a couple of nights. So last week Chris went up the ladder to see what he could do. We had one metal bar left from what we bought to make the frame, and he has bolted that down across the front of the roof and it really holds it very strongly, but he also wanted to tie the back corner down. The roof isn't strong enough for him to kneel on so he had to put a second ladder across it to make a platform. It was all a bit precarious but he managed, with me hovering around below, though what I could have done if he'd fallen through I'm not at all sure! Anyway, Miki and Foxy are back in their house at night, and it's wind and rain proof again.

This week I asked Chris to tackle my washing line. I have a good strong pair of metal posts with four lines stretched between them. The lines are plastic coated wire and for some time now the plastic has been cracking and bits falling off. The exposed wire then goes rusty and it was getting hard to find a place to put the pegs without marking the clean washing. At the weekend, the wires started to fray and it really was an urgent task to replace all the lines. I found a bundle of the same plastic coated wire in a bright red, in the outside shed and it turned out to be enough for three of the lines. There is a good system of screwing bolts for adjusting the tension, but it was a bit of a pain to get it all threaded up. However with Chris on the job, and me as a helper on hand, we got it done. The old lines were white, but when we unscrewed the bolts and unfolded the ends, we found that it had originally been as red as the new one! I will have to have a hunt around the shops and try to find a bit more so I can have the last line replaced as well. Today I washed the bed linen and the new line held up with hardly any sag, so that's another good job done. I can cross it off my list now.

I'll leave you with this lovely picture of Luna in the orange tree. While Chris was working on my washing line I decided to pick a few more fruit from the trees next door that line the fence where we were. (The owner doesn't live there and she told me to help myself!) I was on the step stool to reach a few of the higher fruit when Luna suddenly appeared and she looked so cute, I just had to take her picture.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

For everything there is a season .....

...and this is the season to do some knitting. It is not so cold that we sit huddled up in blankets of an evening, and not so warm that the wool squeaks as it struggles to move along my needles. It does get chilly here in the evenings so it makes sense for us to put the heater on and sit together in the main room after tea. Inevitably this means that the television is on, and there are so few programmes that really hold my interest that I usually end up asleep. So I thought it would be a good idea to do some knitting, and that keeps me awake until bed-time, ensuring the good chance of a decent night's sleep! The wool we can buy in the local shops here is rather harsh, and patterns are almost non-existent, so we tend to use an English lady who lives up in Arboleas, for our supplies. She imports a wide range of wool, patterns, needles, buttons etc, and sells them from her home. Last week she had a spring sale, so seven us piled into our friend Yvonne's people carrier and off we went. It was a lovely morning and while I was waiting for my lift, I took this photo of the line of trees that runs along the lower edge of the village. I think they look so lovely against the blue sky.

When we got to Elaine's, the high winds that had been forecast, started to blow, so reluctantly she moved her sale into the house. Usually we sit around on her patio surrounded by boxes of wool samples while we browse her folders of patterns and choose our colours. It wasn't so easy indoors but she managed to put plenty of things out on display, from wools in every colour imaginable, as well as styles ranging from chunky knits down to four ply, and the odd 'hairy' one as well. There was a coffee table covered in pattern folders, and a rail of knitted garments so we could see how the various yarns would look made up. We each selected a couple of pattterns, and found suitable yarns. I was quite excited as I had the news last weekend that in August I am going to be a Great-grandma! Yes, Emma is expecting a baby, and as it will be much too hot to knit for it in August, I thought I had better get started straight away. It will be lovely to make little tiny garment again. So I bought some lemon and cream 4 ply for first size jackets, and some turquoise double knit for the Autumn. Emma is only sixteen weeks gone but she had a scan this week and saw her baby sucking its thumb. At twenty weeks she will have another scan and then she will know whether it is a girl or boy. So maybe I will be visiting Elaine for some pink or blue wool after that!

When we had done our shopping, we all piled i
nto the car again and drove to a nearby restaurant called Irene's where we had an excellent meal. Driving home we could really feel the wind buffeting the car, and we were glad that there were seven of us in there to help weigh it down! The sky was quite amazing during that journey. The mountains ahead of us were bathed in the sunshine, while the ones behind us were as black as thunder. And all the way along side us there was a complete rainbow with really bright colours. It was beautiful.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Nick Nack, Paddy Whack ....

...Give a dog a bone! As I was busy doing some food preparation in the garden today, I needed the dogs to behave themselves and give me some space, so I decided to give them a bone each. At our supermarket I can sometimes buy big vacuum-packed ham bones, quite cheaply, and the dogs love them. I knew I had three in the cupboard, so I unwrapped them and gave the smallest to Foxy, and the middle one to Miki. Meanwhile Chris had gone to the other end of the yard to give the largest one to Chico. These are big bones and you would expect them to keep any dog occupied for a day or two, but not Chico. Within twenty minutes, his was gone - every bit of it! His jaws must be so strong. And as he had a front leg amputated a year ago, he only has one paw to hold his bone still, but that doesn't deter him.

Miki, meanwhile had taken hers into their shelter and was happily gnawing away on it. She always hides away in there when she is given a treat. She managed to eat most of hers but it took her a couple of hours, and I think Chico probably polished off the last little bit for her.

Little Foxy struggled a bit with hers but she had a good go at it, and when Chico had finished his and walked over towards her, she growled to warn him off. We wouldn't have let him take it from her, but she picked it up and came to sit by my feet in the hope that I would help to protect it for her. In the end I sent Chico indoors to watch football with Chris, while Foxy had all she could manage of hers. Eventually she got tired of it and wandered off, then it was first come etc. I think Miki had a go at it, but I expect Chico got it this evening and finished it off. They all enjoyed them anyway, and I got my preparation done in reasonable peace.

Why was I preparing food in the garden you ask? Well, I decided to make some of our favourite pickle - Hot Chilli and Ginger Jam. It is smooth and thick so it spreads easily in sandwiches and it is wonderful with cheese. It was a beautiful, sunny day and I didn't want to spend too long in the kitchen, so I did all the preparation outside. This evening I have posted a series of photos with the recipe on my craft blog and you can read all about it here.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Out and About

When I was living in Cyprus (many moons ago!) I really apreciated the value of friends. There were a group of young mums, six of us, and our husbands all worked the same shifts up at the RAF base, so we spent a lot of time together, sharing advice and generally helping each other through the worries and stresses of bringing up young children so far away from family members, whom we might have turned to if we had been living in UK. Remember this was before the time of mobiles and Skype. If we were lucky we got a slot on skynet when we could exchange a few words with family back home, but there was a several second delay between speaking and the other person hearing, so conversation was not easy.

Out here in Spain it is
now so easy to chat to friends and family in UK, or anywhere else in the world for that matter, and very few of us have young children here, but it is still good to know that we have friends that we can share the good and bad times with. So I feel very blessed to have been invited out to friends homes for lunch, both last week and again this week.

Last Thursday Donna and Andy invited us to their house and we were lucky enough to have a beautiful, sunny day. They live in a small hamlet off the road towards Albox. They are quite a bit higher than we are and we did notice the drop in temperature, but we were still able to sit out on their terrace and take in the breath-taking view. These two photos were taken looking towards the east and the west, and in the second you can just about see the snow on the distant mountains. Hence the nip in the air when the wind blows from that direction.

They have only lived in this house for a few months and in that time they have had considerable work done, including the transforming of a donkey stable into a lovely guest suite. Their builders are due to finish the project this week and they are looking forward to clearing away all the building debris, and getting themselves sorted out. Here is a picture of Chris chatting to Donna on the patio. I was having a wander down their garden when I looked back and took it.

Today I went to my usual Wednesday sewing group in the morning. I took half a dozen jars of my marmalade with me and sold them all. Chris took another ten jars down to El Naranjo bar and eight of those sold and they have asked for some more. These are all being sold for Los Gallardos charity, ASADIS so I feel it was worth the couple of mornings I spent making it. Usually we all go on from our group to a bar in Turre for tapas, but today I headed off to the shops before they closed for siesta time. I wanted to drive over to a pet store where I had ordered an extra strong, retractable lead for Chico. I went out with Chris to walk the dogs this week for the first time since my torn hamstring. We also took Chico with us for the first time since his leg was amputated, but we kept him on a lead so that he didn't run over any pot-holes etc. He managed very well but we wanted a longer lead to give him a little more freedom, and now we have one.

Then I decided to go on to a more distant supermarket just to get a change of eyesight. I picked up a pastry for my lunch as I had missed my tapas, and I went down to the beach to eat it. I just had to take this picture - miles and miles of empty sand; just a faint view of Villaricos, or it might even be San Juan, in the distance and nothing else. Looking back at the rows and rows of flats behind me, you'd think there would be one more person who fancied some fresh sea air, but there wasn't even a dog-walker in sight.

It was sunny though a bit breezy, and I was warm enough with just a cardigan on. Going back to the car I noticed how many different wild flowers are already out. There was quite a mixture of colours. On a patch of yellow vetch I spotted this bee who was enjoying all the early flowers. And his mates were all around. I could hear them. It was just like a summer day back in UK.

My little tabby cat Luna went to the vet last week to be sterilised. When I picked her up at teatime she was still asleep. Eventually she started waking up and staggered drunkenly around the room. She felt really cold so I wrapped her up in a blanket but she refused to stay in it, so we laid her on top of it, on the setee next to Chris so he could make sure she didn't fall off. She was very 'groggy' all evening and didn't really eat anything until tea time the next day, but she is right as rain now. There's a bit of a swelling under her scar but the vet thinks it is fine, and she is certainly back to her usual playful self.

For more images of 'creatures great and small', click here, to see my other blog where I have made a card for a challenge on that theme. (I'm showing off because I have just learned how to do a hyperlink!).