Well it has a been a while since I posted on here. It has been a quieter time for us so maybe I just didn't have a lot to write about. So here we go on a quick (or not so quick) catch up session.
After the last Cantante concert, which was followed by a very good English-style Christmas dinner, we had no more real commitments until Boxing Day, so I managed to do some actual housework! There were only the two of us for lunch on Christmas day so I didn't need to do much extra cooking. I did make a light fruit cake using all the (highly coloured) crystalised fruits that appear in the shops around this time. Chris prefers it to the dark Christmas cake.
Another sign in the shops that Christmas is here, is the arrival of bags and bags of mandarine oranges. We love these so I bought a string bag full but there were hundreds in it and we are still eating the last few now. They are lovely and sweet, and we like them better than proper oranges which we mainly use for juicing. They do look inviting don't they?
With the chillier evenings we have now I am more likely to sit in the main room for the evening, if there is a decent drama etc on TV, but I like to have a bit of knitting or crochet to do. It helps me to stay awake! So I have managed to finish the Tunisian crochet blanket that I was making for my Knit for Africa project. I am pleased with it, and now I am trying to finish the second one in Bavarian crochet. It's good to learn a new technique and to be able to use it to do some good for someone else at the same time. Our project is still very much alive, and I am in e-mail contact with knitters all over the world who have got involved. It really does underline the power of the internet as a tool for communication.
On the day of the winter solstice, when, of course, the world didn't come to an end!, we had a nice day but it was a bit cloudy and later in the day the wind got up and made some interesting cloud formations, which in turn became this stunning sunset! It only lasted for a short while but fortunately I glimpsed it out of my window and managed to go out and get this photo.
A few days before Christmas we popped down to bar El Naranjo for some quick lunch and a lady in there asked me if I was the 'jam lady'. I said I was, so she asked me if I wanted a bag of bittter oranges that she had in her car, and I was happy to accept them. So on Christmas Eve, with everything else more or less done, I ended up spending my time making marmalade! Here it is, 22 jars of pure gold. It made the kitchen smell lovely,and it tastes good too!
After a week of lovely warm days when it was easily hot enough to sit outside to eat our lunch, Christmas Day itself dawned cloudy and quite cool, with a low mist covering the mountains. It never really cleared though we did get a little bit of sun, so we could sit out for our usual toast to absent friends and family. We usually go down to the bar when they open for a couple of hours midday, so we can exchange greetings with others from the village, but this year it was very quiet so we didn't stay for long. Fortunately I had cooked our turkey crown as soon as I got up, and we left the roast potatoes in the oven on the auto timer when we went out. When we got home it was to a cold, dark house and we found that the mains electric had fused. This is not all that unusual so Chris soon had it back on, but it turned out that the oven itself had burnt out and wouldn't heat up at all. So the potatoes were quickly transferred to the halogen cooker. I have a gas hob so the vegetables were no problem, and we finally sat down to our dinner at 4.00! But it was worth the wait, and after that it was time to close all the windows, turn on the fire, and settle down together for a cozy, sleepy evening.
We did have a very nice present each this year. Chris had a Dolce Gusto coffee machine, because I don't drink coffee at all and he doesn't like the instant one I make for him. This apparently makes a very good cup of coffee and he is enjoying using it. And this is what Santa left under the tree for me. Aren't I lucky? I do sit for a lot of hours in front of my computer, and now I can sit comfortably which is great.
Boxing day morning was bright and sunny so we thought a walk along the sea front would do us good, and on the spur of the moment we took the dogs with us. They have never seen the sea before and I expected them to be very wary as they never go near the pool, and are scared stiff of the hose, but they seemed almost unaware of it. They loved running on the sand, and when a wave caught Miki's toes she literally jumped but she went back for more.
In the evening we were singing at a festival of carols on Vera plaza. Fortunately, because it was rather cold, they decided to move inside the big church instead which was much better. It was organised by Vera townhall and anyone could enter if they had a group of at least ten singers. Each group had a ten minute slot, and they each got 100€ for their funds or chosen charity. One member of Cantante was keen to enter and he asked if anyone would go along to sing. Sadly not many turned up, but those of us who did, sang with some other friends of his and it was fun. It was a long evening as there were 18 groups taking part but they were all different. Only two groups were English but we were given a warm reception by the mainly Spanish congregation/audience. The first groups were mainly children from local schools and sports organisations. Then there were a lot of 'general' entries and we were among them. At the end there were three choirs from local churches and they sang so well. They sing with great gusto and perfect harmonies, but show little emotion (including enjoyment), and don't seem to understand light and shade within a piece which makes them so very different from the English groups. But we thoroughly enjoyed it. In fact it was one of the best evening's entertainment we have had out here.
I can only include a couple of photos of it here but I must show this children's choir. One little girl was much younger than the rest. Each child held a letter card, and they stood forward and sang a verse for their letter, and then everyone joined in the chorus. The tiny girl didn't sing a word all through until it came to her letter. Then she stepped up and sang it beautifully, loud and clear, and then stepped back and fell silent again!
The next photo is to show an interesting instrument that several groups were playing. It resembled a bongo drum with a hole cut in the skin and a pole inserted in the hole. All the time it was being played, the man squirted water from the bottle onto the pole, and by moving his hands up and down it, it made a noise vaguely like a small didgeridoo! They also played guitars and the instruments the man in the photo is playing. I am not sure whether it was a mandolin or bouzouki (according to google it all depends on size and the way it is strung), but it is bigger than I remember dad's mandolin being. However I last saw that some thirty years ago, so I could be wrong!
I have been busy reorganising my craft room, and hopefully making it into a place that will be more efficient to work in. Last month, Chris helped me to buy a set of shelves with matching storage boxes. It matches the set he bought me a couple of years ago. I had to wait until after the Christmas rush to do anything with it, but we assembled it on the Friday before Christmas and I have been deciding how best to use the boxes, but now they are all filled and labelled. I just have a few more oddments to put away and I will be all set to start another year of crafting.
I had one final bonus Christmas present because on Saturday I got out a joint of beef that has been tucked away in the freezer for a while. I intended to use it today for New Year, but I said to Chris that it would be more sensible to make it our Sunday dinner, so I invited my friend Sylvia to come home from church with me for some dinner, and then I realised that I couldn't cook the meat because I had no oven, and I couldn't do justice to such a good joint in the halogen oven. It is fine for small items, but I am not impressed with some of the things I have cooked in it. So on Saturday afternoon we walked around to the Electrodomesticos shop in the village to see what they had. We found a good standard oven at a fraction of the price we paid for the now defunct one which has never been very satisfactory. Anyway, the man from the shop came round with his son an hour later. They installed the new cooker and took the old one away for us and it was all ready to use by tea-time. They really are very good at that shop.
In the evening Chris went down the road to watch a football match so I baked a cake. I am very pleased with it. (The oven that is though Chris was pleased with the cake too!).
We went out to the local bar to their Christmas Eve party which was very pleasant with a good entertainer, good company and good food, so last night we decided to have a quiet New Year's Eve at home. We had a late tea and watched a film on TV. Then we had a drink at midnight and listened to the fire crackers being let off down the street.
We waited up until 1.00 to raise a second toast to those in UK. We watched the London fireworks and I took a few photos of the TV screen. Today I did some editing and superimposed our 'toast' photo onto one of the screen shots to make this.
So all that is left is for me to send my best wishes to one and all for the New Year. I certainly wish you all the best of health but to wish for wealth seems a bit harsh at this time when so many folk we know are struggling to make ends meet, so I will end with a photo I posted in Facebook this morning. It is one of a set of Christmas cards I made earlier in the year and I used one of my favourite sentiment stamps. I think it sums up what we should all be wishing for at the start of 2013. I hope it is a good one for you all.