Sunday, September 16, 2012

A Busy Week

We seem to have had a fairly busy week this week starting with a really pleasant night out last Saturday.    We don't often go very far out of the village in the evening as I have always been the night time taxi so that Chris can relax and enjoy a drink if he wants to. But just lately I have found driving after dark more difficult, and we tend to take our entertainment within walking distance of home. 

However, last Saturday we joined other members of our choir as a sort of pre-season reunion, to watch an open air performance of the opera 'Marriage of Figaro'. It was performed by a group of amateur/in training young, Welsh singers, who have been doing a tour to gain experience, so the quality wasn't fantastic, but there were some lovely voices among them, and they put their all into the acting, highlighting the comedy aspect of it, so it was great fun. Fortunately I had read through the story on the internet before I went or I might have found it quite hard to follow. Chris said it was 'like a Brian Rix farce set to music', which is, of course, true, as many operas have an element of farce in them.

The setting was absolutely stunning. We were seated on rows of chairs on the main Plaza at Vera, looking towards the old church which was floodlit. The stage was  set up just in front of it.

There were palm trees silhouetted against a gradually darkening sky, with tiny birds flitting between them, and every now and then the old church bell rang out to add to the music! It stayed comfortably warm all evening. It was quite a long performance with an interval, so it was nearly midnight when we left our friends to make out way home.

The next day being Sunday, I went to church as usual, but I slipped away as the service ended so that I could visit a friend in the hospital just around the corner from our church. She had a mild stroke a few days earlier, so I wanted to say 'hello' and have a quick chat. I couldn't stay for long as we had agreed to go to a lunch time meal with the art group I belong to in the village. It was Gallarte's tenth anniversary, and we had a lovely meal together at El Cumbre, a restaurant just outside the village on the Bédar road. It is themed around Roman ruins as there are supposed to be some nearby though we have never been able to find them. I didn't crop this photo as it shows the lovely mural on the left hand wall. I used the panoramic setting on my camera to take this and it has 'bent' the table into a horseshoe. It was actually a long, straight table, and the empty chair next to Chris, is, of course, where I was sitting.

On Monday we had a parcel delivered from the Spanish branch of Amazon. This was our new hoover. We have had little success with the ones we have bought locally so we decided to go for a Dyson, as I was very pleased with the one I had in UK. It is a funny looking thing but as you can see, it is slim and easy to store, and it is rechargeable. Chris has just fixed the charging unit that it hangs on, to the wall in the garage, so it can stay plugged in and be ready to use whenever we want it. 

The head, which you hold, is light and compact. The tools actually store on the charging unit, so they are not in the way, and it is extremely easy to empty and clean. Because we don't often have carpets or even mats down, we don't need to do a lot of hoovering, but the usual cylinder type tend to blow the dust around with their exhaust, making it hard to actually catch it. That is not a problem with this one, and it is light enough to easily lift to clean the blinds and mosquito nets, and the gullies for the sliding doors. Hopefully it will also keep all the electrical cables free from animal hairs!

Thursday saw us setting off to Murcia for another trip to IKEA. It is easy to spot from the motorway, as it is surrounded by these high signs, but the road system is actually a bit complicated until you are familiar with it, and we ended up doing a complete circuit before we found the entrance. But I don't think we would make the same mistake next time. 

We went there to buy a pair of comfortable chairs to go on our porch, in the fly-free zone. Now the temperature has dropped to a better level we actually sit out there for almost more time than we sit indoors, and while the various plastic garden chairs we have had, are alright for a short while, we really wanted something a bit better. We saw these on our last visit but we couldn't get them in the car as well as the things we had gone to get that day, so we thought we would wait for a while. But now is a lovely time to have them. Don't they look inviting?

While we were there we also bought two sets of hand luggage ready for our holiday. We are going for two weeks and we are sharing just one hold luggage case, so we need to get the full allowance in our hand luggage as well. I have a nice little case, but it is very  stiff, and hard to get things in and out of once I am on the plane, and I can't pack the full 10kg allowance in it. And Chris has always used a small bag that was just big enough to take his laptop and our travel papers. So these two will be a lot more useful. They are the exact measurements allowed for cabin bags. I will leave you to guess which one is mine!

This afternoon we both had a dip in the pool. The water had got a bit murky after the storms at the beginning of the month, and Chris has worked hard getting it all cleaned out. Now it looks all sparkling clean again so it seemed only right to use it. It felt a bit chilly getting in but once in, it was lovely. The under-water thermometer showed 26º, instead of the 30º it has been all summer, and it is surprising what a difference that four degrees makes. But hopefully we will manage a few more uses before the end of the season. I am sure Tom and Ben will give it a go when they come out too.

And finally, I had the phone call I have been waiting for this week, from Huércal-Overa hospital. I am to have my second cataract operation on 24th of this month. It means I will be a bit one-eyed for our holiday but at least it will be done. (That could lead to some interesting photos!). And when we get back I will have just three weeks to wait before I can be tested for new glasses.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

And so on to another month.

Well, when September arrived, it made sure we knew about it. We went to bed as usual on the last night of August, but around 2.00 am we woke up to hear thunder grumbling around the hills. The room had a permanent flicker as though there was a fluorescent light tube about to fail. It was of course lightening which was just continuous. We got up and brought the dogs in because they hate thunder, and it is a good thing we did as it got louder and louder, and then the rain started. Not just a heavy shower, but coming down 'in stair rods'. Because our houses have no guttering, the water spouts from each corner of the roof and before long it was like being in the centre of a waterfall. The rain continued to fall until 9.30 the next day, which was quite good in a way. The ground was so dry  that a short shower would have just run off the surface, but this kept going long enough to really soak everything. There was some localised flooding, particularly in Mojacar, but with our new drainage system, the village is fine. This has been followed by a week of cloudy days mixed with brilliant sunshine, and a few more showers, though nothing like the first night. 

The clouds make the sky more interesting than it usually is, and I had to take a picture of this one. It was taken just before dusk, and once again it looks as though someone is watching me - and he's winking! (It's probably just me. I see faces everywhere!)

Having said just a couple of weeks ago, how very dry and barren the land is, suddenly everything has changed. I noticed today that even the grass that was golden and apparently dead, now has green stems again. You can see what I mean in the photo on the left. The one on the right shows the grass that has sprung up in just a week, around the orange trees next door. It always amazes me how seeds can lie dormant in the soil until the right thing comes along to wake them up again. Of course, there is a downside to the rain too. It has provided ideal conditions for all sorts of mosquitoes and other midges to hatch out, so once again I have more than my fair share of insect bites!

Something that didn't mind the long hot summer at all is this cacti. When we moved in, it was growing in the front garden, in a tiny strip of soil by the gate. It grew very fast and the dogs rubbed up against it when they went for a walk and I got it's horrid little spines in my skirts, and on my legs. So we decided to chop it down. We weren't keen to handle it much so Chris chopped through it at the base and I collected it up in layers of plastic bags and threw it over the back rail into the green zone. That was almost a year ago. But it refused to die, and this summer it has produced several new 'leaves', and looks quite green and bonny. So we have left it there as it is a part of our rear access security fence! The blue-green leaves behind it belong to one of the Century plants that I mentioned a post or two ago.

And while we are talking about the garden, we have a new addition to our little patch. We inherited a very poor lemon tree growing in a patch of ground opposite the kitchen door. The house owner told us it was dying and she was right. It did give up in the end and the patch has stood empty for a couple of years. So this morning we went to a local garden centre and bought a new baby lemon tree. We have planted it up in the same place, so it may or may not survive, but I shall talk to it every day, and hopefully one day it will produce some lemons for us. I have covered the soil with big stones, partly to stop the water from evaporating too fast, and partly to deter the dogs from digging it up! I have also put a coil of wire mesh around the trunk so the cats don't sharpen their claws on it. It's a wonder anything grows in our garden!

At my Wednesday sewing group, one of the ladies who comes regularly, is a wonderful quilter. She makes 'folk art' images on quilts and other household decorations and they are beautiful. This week she did a little workshop with us to make a Christmas decoration. 

It is still warm enough for us to sit outside for our sessions, so here we are, all trying to put together a fabric fir cone. It was a bit fiddly but I think we all managed in the end. Here is the one I made. She has two more projects to do with us over the coming weeks so I am looking forward to those.

And finally here are the two pages for August, ready to go in my album for my 365 photo project. It was a fairly sleepy, uneventful month, but I still managed to find a picture for each day.
I have kept some of the photos quite small because, as usual, I have rambled on a bit! But don't forget you can just click on them to get a larger view.