Yes I know we are a third of the way through February now, but this is the first time I have visited my blog this month. I have been busy in a fairly non-productive sort of way, and somehow the time just flies.
And not everything I do is non-productive. I was given a lovely bag of kumquats at the end of January, so I set about making kumquat jam. Last year I was not very taken with it as I thought it was too sweet (can jam be too sweet?) and rather lacking in flavour. This year I was more generous with the lemons I added to help set it, and I think the kumquats were not quite so ripe either, and the jam is really very good. It doesn't taste that different from marmalade, but there is very little peel once the fruit is cooked, so some people would like it for that. I have also been given a fresh bag of bitter oranges now so I must make marmalade again tomorrow before the fruit goes off.
To the right of our house (if you are on the street looking at it) there is a big house which used to be the village farmacia. The owner, Angelina, now lives in Murcia and she is trying half-heartedly to sell it. She came back last week for a few days, and we managed a reasonable conversation, so I must be improving as she speaks no English at all. She said neither of her sons have any interest in the house, but when I asked her if anyone had seemed interested in buying it, she shrugged and said 'I am very fond of my house' so she is obviously not trying to sell it too hard.
While she was here, she employed a couple of gardeners to tidy up all the grounds. They did a very thorough job, including removing a couple of dead trees, pruning all the others and planting a couple of new shrubs. I think they are ornamental but time will tell. She stripped all the trees of fruit and took big boxes of them back to Murcia with her, but she also brought a big box round for us. We don't eat a lot of oranges but we love the fresh juice, so I will have to do some squeezing.
I am just about keeping up with my Project life. I haven't done last weeks double page yet, but the page is all set up and the photos ready, so I just have to put it all together.
What I have done this week is to make a mini-album of family photos. I have just completed the first of three short courses online to learn more about how my Silhouette Cameo cutting machine works. The end task for the first course was to make this album. All the shaped pages, the script and the flowers, butterflies etc, were designed on my computer, resized and then sent to my Silhouette machine to cut. The photos were all fairly recent ones taken from my files, that I changed to black and white and cropped etc to the sizes I needed.
This photo shows the finished album from different angles, but if you would like to see the inside pages properly, just click here, and you will see them all on my craft blog post.
I went for walk earlier in the week, just before sundown. I went across to Huerta Nueva (new orchard), the urbanisation just opposite our village. There is a small pond in the centre which was supposed to have been developed into a recreational area, but like so many building projects out here, it was never finished off. However the whole urbanisation has recently been taken over by our town hall, and the pond has been tidied up a bit. Some of the local residents clubbed together to buy some ducks to go there so I walked over to see how they were settling in. They looked very much at home and were pecking around on the bank and swimming leisurely around the pond. The little island in the centre is covered with tamarisk shrubs which are a rusty orange at this time of year, and they reflected the rays of the setting sun making a very pretty scene.
Our choir is back in full swing and we are learning some lovely songs for our concerts this summer. On Friday, our friend Julie came over so we could take her to a nearby restaurant called la Cumbre. You have seen photos of it on here before - it is the one with big pictures of Roman ruins on the walls. There is a lovely outside area with beautiful views over the village and across to the Cabrera mountains. There is an outside stage and we thought it would make an ideal setting for one of our concerts, so we have booked it for the 8th of June.
This week the circus is back in town. Circo Francia comes here twice a year and they park their vans just across the green zone at the back of our house. I can see them from this chair, but more importantly I can hear the constant roar of the lions as their feeding time approaches. At least it is their feeding time on some days, but when it is a day for an evening performance, they are not fed until after the show.
They live in this van, and each morning the side flaps are opened, and we can just see the shadow of the big cats moving around inside. In fairness, all the animals we have seen in circus and fairs out here, appear to be well cared for, well fed, even maybe loved, but it is their lack of freedom to roam that upsets me, and I would never go to watch them performing tricks. It is just not what they were designed for! Their rather mournful roaring is also quite disturbing and it upsets our dogs too. There is just a bit of wire and rope, and a few mobile barriers fencing off their site, with a couple of guard dogs on the prowl, but no-one goes to bother them. It is just the way of life out here. I guess it seems strange to us, especially the lack of security, because we have not seen such things in UK for many years now.
Last week we walked the dogs over on the campo again and the broom was just beginning to flower. It made a golden haze all around. The land is very dry for this stage of the winter. See how cracked and dusty it is. Yet still tiny plants fight their way through, flower for a few days, and then die off and disappear again. It is amazing how strong and resilient they are.
As we come to the end of our route we rejoin a dirt road and there is a newly built sandy bank on the other side. From a distance we could see 'spots' all over it but as we got closer we could see they were individual ears of chumba (prickly pear). It looks quite funny at the minute, but if they all take, they will grow into a formidable security fence for the new high speed train track up at the top of the bank!
Well that is the end of my ramblings for the first half of February. Hopefully I will be back sooner next time, then I won't need to do such a long post!