Friday, December 13, 2013

Rocking My World Friday

Well here we are at Friday again. Only one more of these posts before the big day. I have had a great week, though there haven't been many chances to draw breath. And apart from one piece of rather sad news, which I won't dwell on here, it has been a very positive week.

It started with our first Cantante concert at the beautiful Convento in Vera. We sang to a full house. In fact I learned afterwards that quite a few people were turned away, which is a shame, but I guess even out here, health and safety rules do kick in eventually. Although Julie is our leader, she now shares the work of the technical side of coaching us, and some of the conducting with one of our musicians, Dave Sharp. Here we are singing one that he leads us for.

In this close up you can see the altos and basses. I am the third in from the right on the middle row, (with a flower in my hair!) and my husband Chris is just behind the friend next to me, singing his little heart out! It is nice that we can share this interest. 
Julie is the lady on the end of my row with a green scarf on. She is an excellent soprano, but it was easier for her to move to our side while Dave was conducting. We always wear black with either pink or green scarves, and this year it was suggested that we also wore a flower, so I did. Not many joined in for the first concert, but gradually more have appeared at the later concerts. We had some lovely feed-back from the audience which was very encouraging.
When we came out from the Convento, the streets of Vera all had their Christmas lights on. The shops are not normally decorated, except sometimes for a tree inside, but the street lights are very bright and pretty. Each road had a different design. I just took these ones.
We have done two further concerts this week which have both gone very well. On Sunday we are singing at my church carol service, and then we have the concert in this village on Tuesday.
On Monday evening  I went with a couple of friends, to a dramatic reading of A Christmas Carol. It was a man who spends half the year paraphrasing a well known story, and then he, and his wife dress in costume and read it to a small audience invited to their home.
There were between forty and fifty of us squeezed into his sitting room, from where a couple of shallow steps led up to a small dining area and the stairs. They read from two platforms at the bottom of the stairs and the top of the first flight. It was very good, and a bit different from the usual.
Then on Thursday morning we had more entertainment at a concert put on by two friends of ours, again in their own home, to raise money for their grand-daughter who hopes to spend her gap year with Tear Fund, working with AIDs victims in Malawi. There was a wide variety of acts including some bad jokes, the bad telling of which was often funnier than the punch lines! Three folk singers gave us a good mix of songs, and then there was this...
... Yes. Bagpipes! Not what you expect in Spain, but why not!? He played us some rousing jigs, and we all sang along to The Skye Boat Song.
The final act was a spoof pianist who was very funny.
It was a bit strange going to a concert in the morning, but everyone is very busy at this time of year, so they fitted it in when they could. There was a good turn-out so I think they must have raised quite a bit for their fund. (Look at that blue sky behind him. We have had some lovely days this week).
Whenever I had an afternoon at home I made some more mince-pies. This afternoon's batch took my total to 35 dozen, so I think one more lot, (42 dozen) should be the end of it. They are all sold, or ordered except for 2 dozen for the carol service on Sunday, and hopefully a few left over for us. I may still need to make one more lot, as I have promised my son he can take some back for a get together with his four brothers as soon as he gets home.
I even found enough time to put my decorations up. It is not a Spanish custom to decorate the house much, and a lot of the English folk don't bother either, but I love it, and I still get most of ours out. 
The tree is my favourite bit. I don't have a colour
theme. It gets anything and everything hung on it, and most of the decorations hold special significance for me. There is the ballerina from when my grand-daughter was a little dancer, a red treble clef for my musical son Ben, a wooden millennium bear chosen by son Tom, snowmen that I made with the boys when they were small, a little silver wreath brought back from our holiday in Ireland etc. etc. So as I hang each one, it is an evening of reminiscing for me. 
I love it all lit too. I stand it by the window so passers by can see it. They are probably thinking "Strange English people" but I don't mind.
I have a couple of other favourite bits too. This little nativity set is something I made about thirty-five years ago. It is decidedly sad now and I should probably throw it away, but I can't bring myself to do it. I know I made it when my first son was very small from a pattern in the Woman's Weekly magazine, but neither my hands nor eyes would let me do it again, so until it has completely fallen apart, it stays!
Out in the hall I have this display. The white Mary and Joseph are formed around wine bottles with cotton fabric dipped in poly-filler. It was a messy job at the time but it has stayed fairly white, and it stores away very well. Again it must be fifteen years at least since I made it, after I saw a lady making very elaborate elegant ladies by the same method, at a the craft show at the NEC. It was always my intention to make the rest of the nativity, a bit each year, but it didn't happen.
Beside them is my native American crib scene that we bought from a gift shop in the tiniest church I have ever been in, set into a hill side at Sedona in Arizona. Memories of another wonderful holiday.
We don't decorate the front of the house but I do usually have a poinsettia in the porch. They don't like it if the wind is too cold, but tucked in there it is fairly sheltered. They looked so good in the market this week that we bought two of them this year, so there is one on each side of the door. They make such a lovely splash of colour.
Last year we tried hanging a string of multi-coloured lights around our new fly-free porch, but they weren't very satisfactory. Lots of them failed very quickly, and then some were blown down and broken so we threw them away. So this year we bought some LED icicles which do look rather nice, but they are very bright! They cast an eerie blue glow all down the street. I haven't seen any other house lit on the outside in the village, so at least we have given the neighbours something to talk about. I like the way they are reflected in the pool, giving a double effect for our money!
The dogs mainly live in the porch during the winter, though they are free to go in and out to the yard whenever they want to. They don't seem fazed by their new lights, which is just as well as they will be lit every evening until twelfth night.
Yesterday morning I heard a lorry outside and the
dogs all started barking like mad, so I went out to see what was going on, and there was a man in a lift-up truck, fitting a Christmas light to the pole outside our house. We have an angel with a star this year. We always have one, I guess the electricity contact is on that pole, but it is different every year. We assume they are rented so they do the rounds of all the villages. We are later lighting ours than most places, because we are the only village in this area that has a fiesta for Three Kings Day, so they will stay on until then. I am hoping they will come on at the weekend, so they are lit for our concert next week. It was a grey day but it cheered me to see the lights going up, and the sky soon cleared to give us another sunny, if somewhat chilly, day.
This has been a long, rather photo-heavy post this week, but I will end with one more photo taken over the fence to next door's garden. Although our own little orange tree is very poor this year, with just four fruit on it, most places seem to have an abundant harvest of citrus fruits. Our tree is in a big pot, so we will have to feed it more, and try to build it up next year. We do have a baby lemon tree out by the back door which has fruit for the first time, and it has six big lemons on it, so I am pleased about that. 
The house next door stands empty for most of the year, but the owner does have some men to come in and tend her land occasionally. Her trees are looking a bit leafless, and some have been cut down this year and replaced with new little ones, but they are still dripping with fruit, and now they have turned in colour it looks lovely. 
She always tells us to go in and pick them, but the main gate is locked so we would need to go to the helpers to ask for a key, and usually we can reach all we can use, over the fence.
Well I think that just about wraps it up for this week. I will just link this up with Virginia's blog at Celtic House. And I think the bagpipes and pianist are funny enough to link them over at Annie's Friday Smiles too. They certainly gave us a laugh. (Sorry I didn't put them at the top of the post this time Annie). As I said at the beginning, it has been a busy, happy week, and we have another similar one to come I think. So I'll see you all again next Friday.


  1. I have read your post from start to finish Kate. It's so lovely to hear your memories that come with your Christmas decorations....mine is the same. I have lots of little Santas that my Mum knit from a simple knitting pattern...each one is different even though she knit them all from the same pattern and each year it makes me smile :-)
    Annie x

  2. Wow what a fabulous post, I love the fact your tree's decorations hold a special significance! I can't believe you've cooked that many mince pies - you'll be baked out before Christmas! I'm loving the photo of you at the concert and the bright colours look fantastic. The play in the home sounds really different too.

    Hope you have a beautiful and blessed week ahead.

  3. A lovely read Kate and it looks like you are bringing a taste of the best of England to Spain for Christmas. I arrived home from our week in the Lake District to find your lovely card on the mat and I am touched. I haven't sent any at all this year so please forgive me!
    lots of love Jo x

  4. My sincere apologies for not returning your visit to my place sooner. My internet woes continue.

    What a fantastic week you had. And of course I love the TREE, too. Filled with memories of times past, it is the perfect way to bring in the holidays. That native American nativity scene is possibly the most unique I have ever seen. I love it.

    Happy very belated Friday Smiles.

  5. Gosh you have had a busy and joyful week! I am worn out now just reading it all!

  6. fab pictures, and what a lovely pool! so much better than my pond! very late Happy Smiles


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