Yes another week has flown by, and once again I have failed to find the time to post on here, so today I shall try to keep the writing to a minimum (for me anyway), and give you a week in pictures.
Thursday 12th. Our good friends Julie and Robin came to visit. Robin had picked some bitter oranges and wanted to know how to make marmalade with them. It took us all day because we kept stopping to chat, but we got there in the end. While we were busy I gave Julie Eve's book to look at and she read every word and loved it. (Sorry, only the family will understand that bit). I had made a tasty 'main meal' soup for lunch and we all enjoyed it together and had a lovely day. Robin went home very happy with his year's supply of marmalade, and he kindly left me the rest of the fruit, because I am struggling to get any this year. The sweet orange harvest is nothing like as good as last year, and the market stall holder who has given me bitter oranges in previous years, says she may not be able to get any this year. I have put out requests at church and my sewing group so I will have to wait and see, but in the meantime I was very grateful for the ones Robin left here. That evening, when I went out to feed the dogs, I saw a beautiful sunset. The rays were reflected up into the clouds above, so I had to grab my camera and take a quick shot.
Friday 13th. Guess what I did today? Yes, I made marmalade. The oranges had been picked for a while and they do not keep all that well, so I thought I had better get on and use them. There was just enough for me to make two double batches, one lot of fine cut, and one darker batch with thicker peel. I got both lots done in less time than it had taken to make one the day before and soon I had around thirty-two jars of marmalade made. They have all sold already, and people are asking for more, so I hope I do manage to get hold of some more bitter oranges.
Saturday 14th. I drove over to Vera to a large stationers, to try to get sheets of printable labels for my marmalade and jams. I found what I wanted. They will make life much easier for me. I told Chris I would only be about half an hour, but going back to the car I glanced up a side road and spotted a market stall. I can't resist a street market, and I had forgotten that Vera has one on Saturdays, so I phoned Chris to say I might be a 'little bit longer', and set off to have a look round. For some reason, I suppose because there is one in our village on Tuesdays, and a larger one in Turre on Fridays, I had never been to this market. I was really surprised - it was huge. At the end of each road it branched off into another one, and I quite lost my sense of direction. A lot of the stalls were clothes and I treated us to a new jumper each, and there was also loads of beautifully fresh fruit and vegetables. I saw several things that I don't see in our little market; noticeably net bags of snails. I know these are eaten a lot here by the Spanish people, but it is the first time I have seen them for sale. There was also some fruit that is way before it's proper season, and I couldn't resist buying some, although I know it will be plentiful, and much cheaper in a couple of months time. So we had some tasty snacks this week with ripe apricots, strawberries, and a handful of my favourite fruit, seed and nut mix.
Monday 16th and Tuesday 17th were horrible days. It was grey and cold and we had heavy rain for most of that time. The dogs were restless. We had them in with us, but they are happier outside. It was just too wet for them. In one of the short dryer spells, I went around the garden taking a few photos. I liked this one of our orange tree, with the rain dripping off the fruit. We really felt the cold. I am sure it is a lot colder in UK, but we are not used to it, and our houses are cold. Because all the floors are stone, we get cold feet so I dug out my warm bed socks and wore them inside my furry slippers. Chris has an electric fire in his room but that gets too hot for me, so I combated the draughts by using my sheepskin chair cover and digging out an old blanket, crocheted by mum many years ago. That wrapped around my legs was fine, but everytime I went to make a cup of tea, or fetch something from across the room, Baggins jumped onto my chair and curled up. He knew I would move him straight off again, but he never gave up hope. I might add that I have also cut up a big sheepskin blanket that matched my chair cover, to make beds for the dogs, and I put a small piece up on my printer where Baggins lays for most of the day, but the grass is always greener etc....
Wednesday 18th dawned cloudy but at least it was dry, and it gradually improved as the day wore on. So after I had been to my usual Wednesday sewing group, I drove down to Vera and had a walk along the beach. The sun was out by then and it was quite warm in sheltered spots, but there was a keen wind and it was whipping up lovely waves that crashed as they broke on the sand. I love it when the sea is like that. I walked along the edge of the water and watched the breakers rolling in for ages. Looking back at the white apartments in Vera, you can see there were still plenty of clouds around, but it was good to blow some cobwebs away.
When I got home I had a nice surprise because the courier came to deliver a parcel, and inside was my new camera. This is what I bought with the tax rebate that came in the post on Christmas Eve. It was totally unexpected so I thought I ought to do something useful with it, and this camera has been on my wish list for quite some time. I soon had it all unpacked on my desk, and Arwen was interested in the sound of rustling plastic bags so she jumped up to watch. I bought a 'package deal' that included a case, a small tripod, an SD card, and some batteries with their charger. The only down side was that the only manual was on the accompanying CD. This wasn't a lot of use to me as I need something to carry around and refer to while I am using the camera. so I spent the rest of the day printing it all out and binding it into a proper book.
Thursday 19th. I expect you can guess what I did on this day. Armed with my manual, which I actually sat and read right through before I turned the camera on, I went round the house and garden taking pictures with various settings so that I could get an idea of what it is capable of doing. It is a bridge camera, so one step up from a standard point and shoot digi camera, and one step down from an SLR camera, which I think would have been too complicated for me to understand. Mine seems relatively straightforward to use, and for ordinary photos, the results using the Auto setting are very satisfactory and at least with my eyesight, I can't see much difference between them and those taken when I adjust the settings manually. But I am keen to take more adventurous shots and to try experimenting to find out how to use the settings properly. So I have made a small folder of my first few photos and posted it on my gallery here. Do feel free to go and browse through them. The nice thing about it was that when I put them on the computer, none of them needed any editing apart from some cropping, whereas I usually spend ages tidying them up. There is nothing very adventurous there yet, but I hope to add to it later. One quite clever feature is the ability to take panoramic photos by just turning the camera through a wide angle. Up 'til now I have only achieved this by taking a series of photos and stitching them together in my editing program. This isn't very satisfactory as the light differs between the shots so the sky changes colour etc, and it is quite difficult to blend them together. I have achieved it occasionally as with the two photos I have use as the header and footer of this blog. But now it is much easier because the camera does the stitching and adjusting for you. Here is one I took yesterday at the back of the house.
It is almost the same view as the one at the top of this page, but taken slightly further to the right, and with more of the foreground greenery left in. I didn't get the focus quite right but it's not bad for a first effort.
Today! Yesterday all my photos were taken in the daytime. Today we were busy all day sorting out various bits of formal paperwork. This involved visits to offices in Vera and Huercal Overa, where I managed to make myself understood, though we were lucky in Vera when the young Spanish man who was next in the queue, jumped in and explained when he could see I was struggling. Usually if you have a go at speaking in Spanish to people, they appreciate this and try to meet you half way, but the lady in that particular office is know to be less than accommodating, so we were glad of the young man's help. This took up most of the day so it was early evening when I set out to drive to the supermarket in Vera, to pick up a few things so that I wouldn't have to go out again tomorrow. (Well I do have to do some housework sometime!). As I walked back to the car I saw a beautiful sunset. Fortunately I had my camera with me so I was able to try out the settings for sunsets. I took several shots, varying the settings slightly each time, and this is the one I liked best.
Well I failed again with the less writing bit didn't I? But you have just walked through a whole week with me, and I know some of you do enjoy reading my ramblings, so I won't apologise too much. Maybe I'll do better next time, but there again...!