This week I made a little treat for us to look forward to, but it requires some patience on our part. One of the things I really love about this time of year, is all the soft fruits that appear in our shops and markets. Just as the strawberry season came to an end, we started to see apricots (my absolute favourite if they are ripe enough), peaches, and now cherries. I usually choose the big, shiny black cherries, and this week I bought a rather more generous bagful than usual so that I could preserve some in brandy. First I washed and dried them and made sure that every one I was using was completely unblemished. Then I simply packed them into my 'kilner-style' jars, covered them with brandy, sealed and labelled them, and that's it. The idea is that they stay at the back of a dark cupboard for at least a year. My friend kept some for five years! I don't think we have quite that much patience. In fact I can see our first jar being opened around next Christmas.
I have a strange dog in my yard this week. But she isn't really strange. It is Miki who has had her first haircut! She is just as loveable as ever but I miss my soppy clown who used to peer at me through her almost red fringe. As a puppy, our vet recommended that we didn't have her trimmed as her fur was protection from the sun, but now she is fully grown, her coat is long, thick and curly, and this year we felt she was really struggling with the heat. Most of the dog groomers will only shave the dogs and we didn't want that, but eventually we found a lady who was willing to do a 'half-cut' as long as we understood she may not look 'very pretty' afterwards. Actually she looks fine, just different, but I shall look forward to it all growing again for the winter months. The photo is, of course, the before and after looks.
Last Wednesday evening was our final Cantante concert for the summer. It is really too hot to carry on, and many of our members return to UK for part or all of the summer. We'll be back in September, practising for the Christmas concerts.
Anyway, this week we met at the house of one of our members. I believe I posted photos from our practice session there, last time. It was an excellent evening - a very special time - and as predicted, over a hundred people came to watch us. These two photos show some of them. From where we were sitting, to our right there was the pool with people sitting all around it, and to our left, tables and chairs were set up in every space available, right back to the lovely covered area at the end of the yard which housed a fully equipped bar, a pool table, and an outside kitchen.
I am posting one last photo of the choir in action although you have seen several others already, because for the first time, all the singers are visible and no-one is hiding behind a lamp post, pillar etc. At the end I will put a link to a short video of our finale. In retrospect it was not the best one to film. For one thing we sing in unison, whereas most of our pieces include harmonies. Also by then the light was beginning to fade so it is a little dark. But I had to find some-one who was willing to hold my camera all through it, and he was sitting a fair distance from us, and it has picked up the piano slightly louder than our singing. But it will still give you an idea of what we are like, and we did so enjoy singing together, especially the very last bit of this song, and for a bunch of amateurs, I hope you will think we did quite well.
After the concert we all sat around and ate any of our picnics left from earlier on, and then we had an 'end of term party'. Three of our singers are also excellent musicians and they are used to playing together, so with Robin on guitar, Dave on saxophone and clarinet, and Bob on drums, plus a bass guitarist I did not know, we had an impromptu rendition of a range of songs from the last three decades. Julie sang along with them as well, and we all sat around chatting, or got up for a dance. It was a warm, balmy evening, and we stayed until gone midnight, and we all had a really good evening. I shall miss our Tuesday practices, but it will also be good to have a bit more free time for a few weeks.
We have had an interesting weekend as well, as yesterday we had some visitors who stayed over until mid-morning today. The man is a distant relative (second cousin I think) of Chris, and they haven't met for 50 years! His wife also lived in the same street in Northwood as they grew up in, so they had plenty of memories to share. They have been in touch recently because the man, Tony, has been delving into the genealogy of the Irish side of the family, and Chris has always been interested in this too. Tony has actually been over to Ireland and searched through endless records, and talked to people from the villages where their parents came from, and he has compiled a huge family tree which was really interesting.
Here they are pouring over the few old photos that Chris has of the early days in Northwood.
We got on really well with Tom and his wife Theresa. They have a house in Torrevieja and come out for a long stay at least twice a year, so I am sure we will be seeing more of them now we are back in touch.
Then, to round off the week, we have Julie and Robin coming over later today with their dog Barney. We are looking after him while they have two weeks holiday in UK. Barney is a tall thin dog with lots of energy. He was absolutely fine when he came to meet our two a week or so ago, so I hope that was not just a one off. Now it is so hot, all the dogs spend most of the day asleep in some shade, but I gather Barney can be 'a bit nocturnal', (Robin's words) so we may be in for some disturbed nights.
Here is the link to the Cantante video. Persevere through the quiet start and enjoy the ending. We did!