Saturday, January 26, 2013

It's been a good week!

Yes, it has been a lovely week, starting with the arrival of Jonathan and Ella on Sunday. Chris went to collect them from the airport while I was at church. They were only here for three days, and they came mainly so that Jonathan could help Chris with some work in the garden, but of course, they were very happy to have a brief respite from the chilly, snowy weather in UK as well. And weather-wise they were very lucky. The sun shone for them most of the time, and even though we had cooler, somewhat fierce winds at times, it was still a lot better than they would have had at home. They got most of the work done in the mornings, and in the afternoons we took the dogs for long walks on the campo and along the beach.
When we first moved here we had a clear view at the back, out across the green zone, and down to the bottom of the village. This has gradually become obscured by the rapid growth of some mimosa trees, and last year these became quite a nuisance on two counts. Firstly, one is right outside my craft-room window, which I like to have open as often as I can, and the mimosa gave me persistent hay-fever all the time it was in bloom. Secondly, beautiful though it is, the pollen from it turned our yard, (and the dogs) yellow, and this was followed by a carpet of tiny black seeds, and then another layer of leaves which made keeping the pool clear, quite a major task. So this year we decided it was time for them to go.
Climbing ladders and wielding heavy saws is not good for Chris these days, and aggravates his arthritis,  so as Jonathan is trained to work with trees, he seemed the obvious person to ask for help. Despite being the smallest and slightest of the boys, he is so agile and strong, and before long he had cut off all the branches, lopped away the tendrils, and sawn through the thicker pieces, and suddenly we had our clear view again. 
The second tree was a bit further along, behind the pool pump house, and actually was growing from the bank behind our land in the green zone. So for this one he had to go out round the back and climb the bank and then the tree, but once again he soon had it down, while his foreman - Chris - helped to move the branches as they fell, and kept an eye on the ladder stability. It looks so much better without the trees, and we know that although it seems a bit a drastic, they will be back in a year or two, though hopefully it will be four or five years before they need felling again.

The next day he set to again, this time tackling the bougainvillea that grows all along the side fence. This is an extremely aggressive plant and it steals the light from my kitchen. Usually we have to keep cutting this back ourselves, but seeing as Jonathan was here, we got him to do it. It is a horrible job as the wood is very hard and the main branches are thick, and it is all covered with lethal thorns!  He used the electric hedge-trimmer, which vibrates right up your arms when you cut the thick branches, but he cut it back really hard, almost down to the top of the fence, so it shouldn't need doing again for quite a while. I was sad to see all the beautiful purple flowers on the ground, but again, I know they will all be back in just a few months.
As it happens, our neighbour made her annual visit to her house this week, and she also called in a man to cut her trees and shrubs down, so everywhere is looking a bit bare right now, but hey-ho, Spring is just around the corner!
On the first afternoon we took the dogs over the campo and gave them a good run. Jonathan and Ella have a dog of their own, and they love seeing our's. The next day it was lovely and sunny while they were working, but in the afternoon it got chilly and very windy, so we stayed in and chatted together. 
Then Wednesday morning we woke up to find the garden chairs and table, and the ladders, had blown over and were scattered around the yard, but Chris wanted to rest before driving them to the airport, so I took Jonathan and Ella, and the dogs, down to the beach and we had a lovely walk. There was no wind down there and we soon wished we had put fewer clothes on. Jonathan managed to get Miki running along the sand and almost persuaded Foxy to get her feet wet, but she wasn't impressed. We just got home in time for a quick lunch before we had to drive them to Alicante for their plane. I am only including a couple of photos as most of them are in a folder on my picasa gallery which you can see by clicking here.
The other nice thing that has happened this week is that I have received several parcels of items I ordered earlier in the month.  One included the CD of the soundtrack from the new 'Les Miserables' film. I love it and have been playing it on and off ever since it arrived. I had also ordered several bits and pieces of craft things from various sales, and put in a big order from Lakelands plastics. They are one of the few companies that have a very reasonable flat rate postage for any international orders, so I wait until I want enough items and order them all together. 
The two main items in this year's parcel were both kitchen pans. I bought a new Remoska as mine had really worn out and I do use it a lot. It cooks just as well as the main oven using a fraction of the electricity. I find it heaps better than the halogen oven that I originally replaced it with. That is OK for some things but I have found it very unsatisfactory for others. I also have a new set of saucepans that are attractive because they are all different colours, and they have no handles which means they take up a lot less space on the hob, and it makes them very easy to store in my tiny cupboard. There is a separate handle that just clips on to lift them. I am enjoying using them so far anyway. (The Remoska is the big dark pan with a silver lid).
Finally a quick word about my new project this year. Having successfully completed my project 365+1 for 2012, (taking a photo every day, and mounting them on a page each month), I wanted to do something different this year, and I decided to try Project Life. This is done making a double page for each week, with photos, journalling cards and added embellishments. It is all done digitally, but I am hoping to eventually print mine out and make an album. I did a one week course online, with a lesson each day, to learn how to put this together. It has already taught me a lot about using Adobe Photoshop, and I am looking forward to practising it all. I will put last weeks double page here, but you can see the first two weeks, and read more about it on my craft blog post, by clicking here.

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