Friday, October 25, 2013

Rocking my World Friday!

If you still don't know what this is all about, please pop over to Virginia blog at Celtic House, where she explains all about it.

1). I started last week with a lovely picture of a sunset, so this week I thought I'd show you a sunrise instead. This was the sight that greeted me when I opened the front door to walk the dogs yesterday, at around 8.00a.m.

2). Other sights that have made me smile -  this row of Chris' brightly coloured t-shirts drying in the sun...
...and at the other end of the line, my equally colourful dresses. 
I am so glad that being retired doesn't mean going into drab greys and browns like it did years ago. I love our bright colours, and hope I will always be able to wear them.
3). I love the way Paco fits so neatly into the space between my two pot-towers. He sleeps there for hours now he doesn't need to stretch full length to keep cool.
I'm also very pleased with the way all the little cuttings I planted in the pots back in the spring, are growing. I think they have all taken root.
4). I just love this beautiful pink Incarvillea.
 It is actually planted in next door's garden, but it hangs mainly into our's. It is a very vigorous grower, and I cut it back quite ruthlessly several times a year, but in the Autumn it always gives this lovely display of flowers.
Some people complain about it because it drops a lot of debris, but I am happy to sweep up every now and then. I think it is worth it!
5). I finally got to make my Hot Chili and Ginger jam on Wednesday. It is not for the faint-hearted, but it does something special to a cheese sandwich, and I have customers who come back for more, over and over again. It is not my favourite one to make, but at least I went to bed breathing freely that night! (For those of you who don't know, and probably wonder why I am repeatedly making jam and pickles, I sell them in a local bar and all the money goes to a charity for the disabled children in our village).

I need to get a few more labels printed then these can join all the others in the store cupboard. I don't expect to be making any more this side of Christmas.
6). As I was getting very behind in the making of Christmas cards this year, I stepped out of my comfort zone and made a set of digital cards this week, though I did add a few embellishments, so they are sort of hybrids. You can see how these were made on my other blog by clicking here.
I was quite pleased with the way they turned out, and as the base image is stored on my computer, I could easily print off some more.
7). I also made some other Christmas cards this week, using my Silhouette Cameo cutting machine. What was positive about them, was that my machine had developed a fault that seemed terminal, but when I phoned up the technician at the company where it was made, he talked me through the problem and suggested remedies that had it back in full working order in no time. He took his time, and explained things properly, and it is just so nice to get such friendly and helpful customer support. So thumbs up to Graphtec. Again you can read more about these cards by clicking here.
8). And finally something that has made a huge difference to me. We went to a ferreteria (literally an ironmongers, but they sell all sorts of things. A bit like Wilkinsons in UK), down in Mojacar this week, looking for a new up-lighter for Chris' office, and while we were there he bought me a new light-fitting for my kitchen. I inherited with the house, a circular steel arm that held four spotlights. This was much too modern for the style of the kitchen, it didn't give enough light, and the bulbs only lasted for a few weeks, so we seemed to be always replacing them. I now have a pair of flourescent tubes neatly hidden behind frosted glass in a wooden frame, which is much less conspicuous and it gives me so much more light. My eye-sight is not good and I need lots of light where-ever I am working, so this is a fantastic improvement.
So now it is time to join Virginia at her blog to see what is rocking your work this week.

Friday, October 18, 2013

I am back to Rocking on Friday this week.

Hi folks. It's hard to believe another week has flown by. It has been a good week, in part because the expected change in the weather didn't happen, so most days have been a very warm but comfortable 25-28º, and the cloud only gathers early morning or at sunset.

We could really do with a little rain now but the forecast is still good, so I am hoping any rain will only fall at night.
This week we had a double, fairly low-key, birthday celebration - my husband Chris' on Tuesday and mine yesterday. We had kind of celebrated the week before while our son Tom was here, as it is also his birthday tomorrow! But we did plan to go out to dinner on Wednesday night. However Chris was still struggling to shake off the cold that Tom and I had the previous week, so I knew he wouldn't really want to go out at night, so I suggested we went for menu del día instead. (Traditional mid-day meal originally served to the field workers before their siesta). 
As it happened Chris was due at Huercal-Overa hospital on Wednesday morning, for a long-awaited appointment with the eye specialist. The positive side with that is that they agreed to do a cataract operation, so hopefully his sight will improve again soon.
he had drops in his eyes at the hospital so I was driving home, and as it was such a lovely day, I took the long route home, going down to the coast at San Juan. The views along the way were wonderful, but as I was driving I couldn't take any photos. We were a bit disconcerted to find the coast road was closed for works, so we had to go back to the main road and around San Juan, rejoining the coast on the other side. Some friends had recommended a restaurant near there and I was hoping I could find it. I turned off the main road at Esparto del Pozo and drove down a track that took us right onto a deserted beach, with lovely views back along the coast to San Juan.
Sure enough there was a restaurant there, with an encouraging number of cars in the parking area, - always a good sign. We managed to find a table and we did have an excellent meal.
It started with the usual mixed salad and bread while the first course was prepared, and the meal included a drink so Chris had red wine. It came in the type of bottle that suggested it was a local brew, and no-one seemed to mind how much of it he drank. I was on the 'hard stuff' as I was driving home!
Just above our table there was a huge palm tree dripping with dates, and lots of little, very tame sparrows hopped around us, hoping for some dropped crumbs.
I enjoyed watching these two gulls, quite happy on their own little island. They were chattering away together like a pair of old friends. Perhaps they meet up there every day.
After the meal we walked along a surprisingly good promenade, past a row of lovely, individually designed houses, which were probably heaving with Spanish folk during July and August, but which were mostly closed down for the winter now. (A lot of city workers from Madrid come down to this part of the coast for the hottest months). You can see we weren't exactly fighting our way through the crowds here!
The prom ended at a semicircle of more houses. These ones looked a bit larger, more 'up-market', but they are probably all illegal as they are too close to the high water line, according to the latest building regulations.
When we first moved to Spain, while we were house-hunting, we rented a flat at El Calón, in the next bay around the coast in this direction. We sat on the wall for a while enjoying the sun, and remembering the good times we had there.
It was a good way to celebrate our birthdays and in the evening we could just get comfy in front of the TV. 
I was very pleased to have a Nexus 7 tablet as my present (as well as the 'extra' in my bank to spend on craft shopping while I was in UK!). It is small enough to slip in my handbag when I go out, but big enough to read the screen easily, which my iphone is not!
It was also lovely to get lots of cards and on-line messages from friends and family, as well as chatting to most of our sons on skype.

Other little moments that have made me smile this week:- the day my skinny little tabby cat brought me a present! There is nothing of her, but she is a true campo cat, and a great scavenger. I heard a lot of noise in our bathroom and when I went to investigate, Luna ran out, and I saw all the bottles of cleaner, the spare loo rolls and the box of clean towels had been moved around. I thought she had brought in a live bird - something she does quite regularly, and usually I can rescue them and release them outside again. But this time, after much searching, I discovered this little chap in the corner! 
She has brought all sorts of things in, usually birds, lizards or giant grass-hoppers, but it was the first time she has brought me a mouse. Now I expect some of you are horrified, but I actually rather like mice. I remember when my older sons were little, they had two as pets, and I though they were lovely. But, of course, I don't want them running around the house, so I managed to collect him in a plastic box and again I released him into the green zone at the back of the house, where he probably came from.

Now I will leave you with a couple of photos of my trip to Turre market this morning, or at least, photos of what I bought there. First off is this lovely cauliflower called a romanesco. I have showed them on here before. I just love all the little spires over it, and the perfect spirals within each one. (A great example of the Fibonacci sequence for any mathematicians among you!).
And secondly, this is the season for sweet peppers. One stall today just had boxes and boxes of different types of peppers and they looked so lovely. They were all one euro for a kilo and you could mix and match them. So I collected up this little lot, all for around 1.20€. (The cucumber was a free gift, popped in with a wink by the stall-holder when I paid her).
I then bought the rest of my fruit and veggies for the week, potatoes, onions, tomatoes, leeks, a bunch of carrots, a squash, the new seasons tangerines, pears, plums and grapes. In fact I came home with my own little Harvest Festival. How blessed am I?!
Two final big smiles this week.
1). Ben, son number five, has booked flights for him and his partner to come to us for Christmas Day! They will be here for six days but have to travel home on Boxing day for work the next day.
2). Chris spotted a good deal on Monarch Airways site, and he has booked our flights to UK for next May! We are coming over for our beautiful grand-daughter's wedding. We haven't booked flights back as we haven't really planned the rest of the trip yet. But it is something else to look forward to.

Now I am going over to Celtic House to link this up, and see what has made other folk smile this week. Why not join in and share your positive thoughts. There is always a good side to every situation if you look for it!
All that lovely fruit makes me smile, as do the little mouse and the pair of gulls, so I think I will link this to Annie's smiles-Week 40 as well. See you there!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Rocking my world Saturday!

Yes I know it should be Friday, but yesterday I was particularly busy and I forgot what day it was! I haven't even been over to Celtic House yet to see what has made everyone else happy this week. But I will!
I actually have not got as much to tell you about this week, as, after our holiday and then a visitor, it was good to have a relatively quiet 'catch-up' week.
We thought Tom was going to have poor weather for his last couple of days, as the forecast showed 100% likelyhood of rain, but it never really came. On Sunday I cooked my usual Sunday roast (a tradition I have continued even on the hot days of summer!), and we were able to sit out on the porch to eat. Tom doesn't bother cooking meals like that for himself so he enjoyed it. By the evening the grey clouds were rolling in from the mountains.
We felt sure the rain was finally coming, but all we got was a rather nice sunset, and a few drops of rain that only lasted for a couple of minutes.
I expect they had a bit of a soak further up the slopes, but we escaped. The next day dawned bright and sunny again. Our son Tom was still with us until Tuesday so we did have one more outing together. This coming week all three of us celebrate our birthdays, so on Monday we went out for lunch together at one of Tom's favourite beach cafés, Dolce Vita. Sitting right on the beach, it offers lovely views across the sea.

Usually we sit out on this little patio, but it was a bit too windy this week so we sat just inside, but the big windows were open so it was almost like sitting outside. And we had a lovely meal there too!
We got home in time to relax outside, me in the shade and Tom soaking up the last few rays before leaving us. He was flying from Alicante early Tuesday morning and as it is a bit over two hours drive from here, he decided to leave around 1.00 a.m. But at midnight he felt compelled to have one more dip in the pool!
We were happy to just watch, but I guess it was a good way to wake himself up before the drive!

At choir practice on Tuesday, a good friend gave me these limes from her tree. I have never had limes in that quantity before, nor do I know anyone else who has their own tree. She thinks perhaps all the heavy rain last autumn was the cause of it fruiting so well this year. 
Of all the citrus fruits, these are by far the most expensive out here, so I have not had the opportunity to make lime marmalade before. But I reckoned it wouldn't be much different from making orange marmalade, so yesterday I had a go. It has turned out very well, with a good set and a sharp, tangy flavour that I like.
The night before I had also spent a couple of hours cutting up vegetables and leaving them in salt over night.
So as well as the marmalade yesterday, I also turned all these into a batch of piccalilli. Earlier in the week I made twenty jars of plum jam, so my store cupboard is looking quite healthy at the minute. Now I need to print off a few more labels.
I have also bought the ingredients to make my Hot chili and ginger jam' which is very popular with my customers, so I will probably get that made this week too.
This week I have been able to help out Julie, our choir leader, organise some songs for the children in our village to sing at the start of our concert here in December for the village charity ASADIS. Julie sent me the words for Away in a Manger in Spanish, and my lovely son Ben recorded the music and also a version of him singing it in English to give them an idea of how it goes. It is not a carol usually sung by the Spanish children. I took copies of the words and a CD of the music up to my friend Cati who will teach it to the children. Yesterday Julie came over to have lunch with me, and we went through the song with Cati, so she understands what we want. After our summer concert, the first time the children had sung, they asked if they could sing with us next time, so when they have sung, they will do it again with us singing as well. They are also learning another Spanish song which is very like our 'Little drummer boy'. The parents will all come to hear them, and it forges a lovely link between "us and them".
I also went up to the town hall and managed to book a room in the village for the concert. The man there speaks no English so I was really pleased to be able to do this and feel sure that we both understood everything. It is more down to greater confidence than ability on my part, but I do feel I am finally making some progress in communication.
As a finale to yesterday (I hope you can now understand why I forgot to post this then), I drove over to Vera to a concert given by a very musical family that I had met before, but I had never seen them performing. It was a lovely evening. The mother is a trained opera singer and she was very good. Her husband played a keyboard and provided backing vocals, and all the children sang and played instruments. The older boy was a percussionist, mainly playing bongo drums, and a drum kit, and his brother's first instrument was the trumpet though he also played an acoustic guitar and had a beautiful treble voice. The older girl played electric guitar and the little one used maracas (keeping perfect timing right through a long song), as well as playing violin. 
What an accomplished family! I am looking forward to going to their Christmas concert in December.
Now I am off to see what has brightened the lives of everyone else. Have a blessed week!

Friday, October 4, 2013

A Day in Granada

WOW! Three posts in one morning. But you have to admit, it would have been quite a marathon if I had done them all in one post. At least you can stop and make a brew in between - I did!
Our son Tom had been out here for a couple of weeks holiday (until next Monday), and as he loves the city of Granada, he wanted to get up there for a day. It is a long drive, but with some company to chat to, it soon goes. Chris is not happy walking city streets so he opted to stay home and 'look after the animals', which meant that Tom and I could stay as long as we wanted to. Looking at the weather forecast for the area, it showed rain coming up by the end of the week, so we decided to go on Wednesday as the spectacular views really need a clear day.

Once we had parked up, our first port of call was a pleasant cafe on the main square. Ah, the decisions - what to have for brunch? Well filled, we wandered through the shopping area on our way to the Moroccan quarter. The streets were lined with lovely flower displays. I particularly liked these balls of geraniums.

We stopped to browse in a new shop since my last visit. It sold a wide range of loose teas, spices, essential oils, candied fruits and nuts. The smell was lovely. up until now these have been sold from open stalls around the cathedral, but, although there were still some there, many have now moved into small shops along the route. I would have loved to buy one of the little infuser teapots they had, but they were a bit too pricey for this time. (I shall remember where they are for another occasion though). 

We then began the steep climb up through the Moroccan Quarter. The narrow lanes are lined with colourful bazaars. Although they were shady it was very hot, and the ascent is steep. We had to stop to catch our breath a few times but we made it to the top.

Here there is a big open patio with wonderful panoramic views across a little valley. Immediately ahead is possibly the best view of the Alambra Palace.
To the left you can see the range of mountains that go on and on into the distance. In the winter these are all covered with snow, providing a quite different, but equally lovely, view.
To the right you look out over the city itself. It looks huge from up there, though it is quite possible to walk right through it in a day.
And by leaning round in the far right corner, you can see this view of the cathedral. You don't really see this from anywhere else as there are so many high building around it.

We sat under a shady tree on the patio, and listened to two men playing guitars and singing, traditional Spanish music.

This little girly was listening too, but I'm not convinced she was enjoying it much!

When we had rested we bought an icecream to eat as we made our way back down to the city centre. We went by a different route, passing by a little stretch of river that meandered along by a pretty 'old' street of colourful apartments.

From there we went on to a more modern road that was nicely shaded by tall trees. It was good to find them in a city. Cobble stone pavements meant they were not always easy to walk on, but they look attractive, and here there were smooth slabs as well, so we were in less danger of twisting our ankles!

Eventualy we found ourselves back in the Cathedral Square. The cathedral itself is an impressive building. We had intended to find a cafe for some tea but neither of us wanted to eat a big meal, so we found a tasty snack and a much needed cup of tea. (A pretty decent one by Spanish standards!). Then we were drawn to this icecream parlour where each tray was decorated with beautifully carved fruit. The apples were so pretty, but I really loved the big water-melon flower.

Being diabetic, I restrained myself from a second treat in one day, but Tom reckons he had a whole year's worth of e-numbers when he tried the blue smurf one!
It was a long drive home in the dark but we were home around ten, pretty tired but we had had a good day.

Rocking my world Friday

I have been blessed with another lovely week, which started with a wedding on Sunday. It wasn't exactly a conventional wedding as the couple were actually married, in their own country of Romania, some years ago. But since being baptised in June, and regularly attending our church, they decided they wanted to take their vows again in church. They scrape an existence working in the plastic greenhouses where half of Europe's salad is grown, so we wanted to make it a very special day for them. You can read all about it and see the card I made for all the congregation to sign, in another post, by clicking HERE. But here are a few photos taken on the day.
The groom said his vows in English, and the bride in Spanish. A friend did the reading in Romanian, and two Scotsmen  ceremonially brought in the cake.
It was quite an international occasion.
We all contributed to a 'shared lunch'.
The little bridesmaid had a good time collecting the rose petals that were strewn on the path.
They did not know we doing all this, as well as providing flower arrangements, taking photos for an album, all chipping in for a gift, signing the card etc. They were quite overcome by it all and I am sure they will remember their special day for many years to come. Florentina is expecting her baby in December, a sister for the little one in white, so we are looking forward to another celebration soon.

I got home from this, late in the afternoon, and immediately I had to get ready to go out again, this time to our friends' Ruby Wedding Anniversary. I did make a card for them as well, but I haven't had time to post about it yet. We had a lovely evening with them, and many friends, at bar El Naranjo in our village. 

After a lovely buffet we did some dancing. My son and I were playing with the disco lights, and I caught him with a neon green hand!

We have had some lovely hot days this week which Tom has made the most of. I was very impressed the day he cycled to the top of our mountains, and took the photos to prove it! It is the highest climb he has ever attempted so well done to him! I have never been right up there, and I'm not likely to try, but I bet the views were amazing.

After our choir practice on Tuesday I met Tom down on Mojacar Playa. We had a swim in the sea but we were glad to go up to the shady bar for lunch to give us a break from the sun.

Of course, Tom has also made good use of our little pool. The water has dropped to around 24º now, so it is a bit cool getting in, but once are you in, it is lovely still. One day, Tom was dithering around on the edge, trying to decide whether to take the plunge, so dad came along and gave him a helping hand. He got well splashed for his efforts!
I missed my usual Wednesday blog hop (on my other blog) because Tom (our son) and I went to Granada for the day. Husband Chris is not a city person so he opted to stay home with the animals which meant we were not restricted to time, so we made a long day of it. It is just over a two hour drive from here but is well worth the journey. I will just show the iconic pomegranate fountain here. The Spanish word for pomegranate is granada, hence it's link with the city of that name. If you would like to see more of the lovely photos I took there, please see my next post.

I was delighted to come home from my holiday and find my 'Stepelia gigantica' was covered in buds. These rapidly fattened and this week several of the flowers have opened. 

They measure some six inches across, and although they are not the most beautiful flower in the garden, they are very unusual, and quite eye-catching. They are designed to resemble  raw meat and are very attractive to flies, so they are quite useful to have growing near where you want to sit, as it attracts them away from you!

Another surprise find in the garden was fruit on one of our new trees. We chose it because when we bought it, it had very pretty pink and red leaves. These mostly dropped in the winter, though some held on, but the new growth in spring was pale green. It did have some inconspicuous blossom but I hadn't realised this had set into fruit until this week, when I spotted some bright red between the leaves. They are an unusual shaped berry, and after much internet searching I have found that it is called Eugenia uniflora, or Surnam cherry, and/or Pedana or Pitanga. Take your pick! Apparently the fruit are sweet and nuitricious, and the leaves turn pink or red depending on how cold the winter gets.
And finally this little fellow paid us a visit this week.
He is much bigger than the red and blue dragonflies that normally hover around our pool. Unfortunately he had a damaged wing and had fallen into the water and was in danger of drowning, but we rescued him. I set him up on a high, sunny branch to dry off and he disappeared so I think he may still have been able to fly. I hope so. There was no debris to suggest the dogs or cats had got him anyway!
Now I will link this up to Celtic House, and then I will get on with my post about Granada.