Yes, I am back home in sunny Los Gallardos. Having left Birmingham in a downpour at 7.00 yesterday morning, it was good to see some sunshine when I arrived here. In the 24 hours I have been back, having got the dogs so excited they spilt Chris' red wine all over his new white shorts, I managed to commit him to buying an expensive electrical item when I had only gone in the shop to enquire about it, and then, to top it all I put his passport through the hot wash (in the pocket of the said, white shorts), and it is now drying out, but it doesn't look too good! But despite all that, he still seems glad to have me home!
Chris said he didn't have much appetite while I was away and 'didn't fancy' the ready-meals I had left for him; (could he have been pining for me ...??). He seems to have lived mainly on cereal and ice-cream, so he is looking forward to some 'decent cooking'. The dogs greeted me loudly, excitedly and somewhat wetly, and then went back to what they do best - lazing in the sun. Big, white, fluffy Arwen chose to live in the bath for the duration of my absence - I've no idea why - but this morning she was back in my craft room and as friendly as she ever is. Baggins sat on my lap all evening, and the other two showed a level of indifference which might have been hurtful if it wasn't their usual attitude. They did come and say 'hello', and miaowed for their food as always, but as long as they got some, they didn't seem too bothered about who was providing it.
This morning I went into the village as it was market day, and several people both English and Spanish, greeted me with a hug and a kiss as though I had been away for months instead of just over two weeks. On my usual fruit and veg stall I asked Josefina for three kilos of black plums. She smiled and said 'Por mermalada' (for jam) and I nodded. Josefina supplies me with bitter oranges in January to make marmalade. I had left her with just another kilo or so of plums and she asked me to buy those too so I said OK. She then bagged up all the yellow plums she had left and gave them to me saying 'un regalo' (a gift). Then, as I was finishing off my purchases of fruit and veg I asked for some callabaza, which is a sort of rough skinned pumpkin, that steams, mashes and roasts beautifully. Usually she just cuts off a hunk wherever I point but today she only had about quarter of one left and she asked if it was OK. I said it was too much for us and I would have half of it. So she asked the next customer if she wanted some - an English lady who clearly had no idea what it was or what to do with it. When she shook her head, Josefina put it all in my bag, again with the simple words 'Un regalo'. She told me to make pumpkin jam and laughed. Then in the usual local fashion, she knocked the 25 cents off my bill to round it down to a whole number of euros, and I thought, 'This is why I love living in rural Spain. This is why it really does feel like I've come home'.
When I got home, with arms like an orang-utan from carrying everything, and weighed them, I found I had 6½ kilos of plums, so I went out again to the village shop and bought a few bags of sugar. I guess that's Thursday taken care of; I'll be making jam. On Friday we have been invited to a social evening at the local bar to raise money for the village children's charity ASADIS, so hopefully I will have a few jars of jam to sell.
I had a wonderful time in UK, firstly arriving in Manchester and spending the night at son Jonathan's new house. The next day we drove down to Bournemouth for Elmer's funeral. Although this was a sad occasion as we said 'Goodbye' to the oldest member of our clan, it was also a happy day as I got to spend time with all five of my sisters, as well as some of their children and grandchildren. Many of them I hadn't seen since our Mum's funeral seventeen years ago, and there was one grest-niece whom I had never met.
I spent the week at my sister Jean's house and together we visited most of the others again. We also had a lovely walk on the common opposite her house (It has a much nicer name now but I can't remember it), and relived our summer holiday outings with mum when we caught a bus to Westbourne and walked down through the woods to the chines. Then we paddled along the water's edge to the pier at Bournemouth, strolled though the lovely gardens, and on along the promenade to the cliff lift. At the top we walked inland to where her husband was playing in a bowls competition. It was a beautiful day and we both caught the sun. We also fitted in some shopping trips so I could stock up on some craft items, and treat myself at M&S.
Next I caught a train to Wolverhampton and spent a long weekend with son number one, Jim, and his lovely family. The highlight was on the Saturday when all five of our boys came with their partners for a gathering of 'The Perry Massive' as his wife Jo always calls us. It was very special to all be together, though a bit sad that Dad couldn't be with us, and neither could a couple of the grandchildren. We did have a funny few minutes talking to Dad via skype, though with all of us talking together, we must have sounded a mad bunch! Here is a photo of us taken that day. I also managed to get to the morning service at the church where Jim is vicar.
Then, on Monday I moved on to Oswestry and spent one night with our middle son, Tom and his partner Jessie. We had a good catch-up together and the next morning son number two, Mike collected me and took me to his daughter's house for the second highlight of my visit, when I met my new great-grandson Isaac. I will do a separate post about him when I have had time to sort out my photographs. Sufficient here to say I had a lovely day, with lots of baby cuddles. Mike and I then went back to his house so I could spend the evening with his two little boys, who were very friendly even though it is over a year since they saw me last.
Late that night Mike drove me back to the station for the late train to Birmingham where I was met by our youngest son Ben as he finished his shift as a train conductor. I spent the rest of my time based at his home in Erdington. I have always been very close to Ben and we had a lovely relaxing time, chatting, shopping and enjoying each other's company. Of course he played his piano for me and sang me his latest songs, and I just love listening to him. He writes and plays for his own pleasure mainly, and is not interested in taking it any further, which is a shame. I am sure some of his music is good enough to publish. But the main thing is that he enjoys it.
I had a day out on Saturday when I went to the Stamping show at Alexandra Palace, and Jean came up from Bournemouth to spend the day there with me. We both belong to the Chocolate Baroque Guild, a spin off from an on-line craft shop that we use, and they run a forum where we chat to other members and swap Artist Trading cards etc. We arranged to meet up with a group of them at the cafe at the show and it is nice to be able to put some faces to the names of some of our on-line friends now. We watched some interesting demonstrations and bought more 'stash' and it was a very enjoyable day.
I had Sunday to sort everything out and pack my cases. Ben was on an early shift on Monday morning so he was able to drop me at the airport for 5.00am and then go on to work. My flight was delayed for about half an hour, and then they changed our landing strip so we had to swing out over the sea and approach from the opposite direction which delayed us another fifiteen minuts or so, but eventually we landed safely, and as I said at the beginning, 'It is good to be home'.
I have quite a few photos to sort through and then I will put a folder on my picasa gallery. So watch this space and I will let you know when it is done.