Friday, June 28, 2013

Rocking my world this week.

I can't believe another week has flown past but here I am looking back over it and smiling at the good times.
On Saturday it was the day of the annual, local road run (carreras populares 2013). I was going to call it a fun run, but some of the athletic club members took it very seriously. It started in the afternoon with short distances for the tinies, and longer ones for the older children/young teens. then at 9.00 in the evening the adult race started.
Later again, when it was getting dark, it was fun to see the smallest competitors jumping up on the dais, eager to receive their medals.

Sunday evening was also busy with a charity concert that we attended. They were raising funds for the British Legion and MACS. It was open-air, and was held in a small amphitheater in the grounds of someone's house. It was a lovely setting for a concert.
We enjoyed hearing our friend Eileen singing song from the shows. It was a very good evening's entertainment.
And then we saw the 'super moon' as it rose from behind the hills over at the side of us. Beautiful!
On Monday I took my beautiful, but grumpy cat, Arwen to the vet for her twice a year hair cut. She is not friendly enough to do it while she is awake so the vet gives her an anesthetic first. She looks very cute now, and is actually so much happier that I get to give her the odd cuddle. I always like  to keep her fluffy face, paws and tail so everyone calls her a 'poodle-cat'.
That same afternoon our big, soppy girl, Miki also had a trim. She is very amenable so she goes to the groomer for a quick all over trim and a bath, so now she is also more comfortable for the hottest months, and she sheds less hair everywhere too. She looks like a different dog doesn't she?
Wednesday was an exciting day. We packed a picnic and set off early for our favourite beach - Los Cocedores, and we arrived just in time for a baptism service with members of my church.
We sang a couple of hymns first which gained us some interested spectators, and then there were eight candidates who were baptized in the sea. Four were Romanian, three British and one Dutch, so it was an international occasion.
Afterwards we all had our picnics and relaxed in the sun. I even managed my first swim in the sea this year, and it was lovely.
(Yes, I had a hair cut too, but I wasn't going to tell you that!).
And finally, something that always makes me smile. Every day around tea-time, I have rainbows dancing round my kitchen as the sun and breeze catch the crystals that I have hanging in the window. Aren't they pretty. I love them. I got the idea years ago, the first time I saw the lovely tear-jerker film Pollyanna, and I have had at least one crystal hanging up to catch the sun ever since.
How lucky I am to have so many things to smile about. So now I will pop over to Celtic House to link this up, and share other folks happy moments, and I'll also add it to Annie's Friday smiles, while it is still Friday!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Rocking your world Friday.

This is my second time visiting Celtic House, where we are encouraged each Friday to think if all the positive things that have made our world a happier place this week. Sorry if a few of these repeat other posts but, as this post probably reaches a different set of readers, they are still worth a mention here.

1. On Saturday Cantante singers had the opportunity to share in a wedding by entertaining the guests as they arrived, and by leading the community hymn singing. 

It was a hot but happy occasion which ended with the bride lifting up her hem and train to lead the guests out doing the conga!

2. The palm in our front garden continues to grow at high speed. (See last week's post). I love the way it is covered in curls.

3. The heady scent of stephanotis as it blooms again this June.

4.The smell of warm cookies coming from the oven and filling the kitchen, as I prepare to host our Life group the following day...

.....and a group of lovely friends to come and share them on a warm, sunny afternoon. No-one minded the overcrowded porch, as it is fly-free area, so the wasps couldn't come for their tasters.

5. The love and generosity of folk who continue to knit for my Africa project, even when the temperature is in the thirties! I sorted it out yesterday, and although it is only a few weeks since the last consignment was dispatched,  there is already a good collection of blankets, jumpers, hats etc.

6. A kind husband who offered to take me to our favourite beach-front cafe for lunch, so I wouldn't have to cook.

7. Two of my cats, Paco and Luna, who had a rare evening of mutual adoration last night! They tend to go their separate ways most of the time, but they can be so sweet together. Paco was grooming Luna until he licked too hard and she fell off the shelf!
8. And finally, our five lovely sons, who always make me happy, but to see what they have been up to, that has made me smile this week, you will need to read my previous two posts!
Now I am off to link this to Virginia's blog and share other 'Rockettes' positive thoughts, and as these things have made me smile I will also link them to Annie's blog for her Friday smiles post.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Boys and their toys.

This is really just part two of the post I did earlier today when I mentioned a little about Ben and Mike so just to balance things up, here are two more of our sons. 

Firstly Tom, who spends most of his days hunched over a computer, and his evenings spinning vinyls, has found a new interest in cycling. He has bought a good bike and spends a lot of time with the young people from the bike shop. They go out some evenings and at the weekends, and sometimes they do really long rides through the Welsh countryside. Tom posts some lovely photos that he takes en route.  It is so good for him to do something out in the fresh air after his days in the office and he is a lot fitter now too. This weekend he joined his friends to form a team and they entered the Wiggle Mountain mayhem 2013 challenge, where the idea is to take it in turns to cycle laps of very up and down terrain, and see how many laps they can complete in 24 hours! His team came 46th out of 83 in their group which wasn't bad for a first attempt.

Then today Jonathan sent me an invitation to 'like' his Skulldozer page on facebook. Skulldozer is a duo, Jonathan on drums and his friend Jake on guitar and singing. They are recording an EP to use as promotion around local venues in the hope of getting some bookings. They have done a few already. On their facebook page he has just uploaded this video of him recording the drumming track for one of the songs. Jake will do his part later and then they will mix it. He has now given me the link for it on youtube so I can share it with you. Just click here to watch it. You can hear a quiet backing track that he has to play to, but it will of course, sound better (if you like that style of music), when it has all been put together.

Jonathan is doing a college course this year one day a week, studying studio work, how to record, and mix music professionally. He has just got back one of his five assessments for this year and he achieved 96% which they said was exceptional, so I am really pleased for him. He would love to have his own studio one day.

That just leaves our oldest son Jim, who I am sure has also done something amazing this week. As a vicar he has a much wider 'family' that puts heavy demands on his time, so we don't get the chance to chat as often we'd like to, but it is his birthday next week so I am sure we will be exchanging news then.

You have to admit they are a very mixed bunch aren't they? But they all have their talents. They live very different lives but they love to get together now and then, and it is good to see that, now we have left them to come and live out in Spain, they are still keeping touch with one another, and the bonds of brotherhood are growing stronger with the years.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Thinking things through

Hi. Posts three days on the trot! What am I thinking of? 
Well today this is a quick post so I can share something I put on facebook today. I know many of the family don't use Facebook so you won't have seen it. I consider all five of our sons to be our greatest blessing, so you could say I am biased, but I always like to give them credit when one of them does something that shows they are 'thinking men'. 

So here are a couple of contributions from our youngest son Ben, and our next to oldest son Mike. This is a direct quote from my Fbook post.

"So proud to have 'thinking 'sons, who won't just accept what is happening in the world. Here is the latest song by our youngest son Ben:
And this piece, written by Mike, was quoted by Shropshire Family Information Service: 

Enjoy, and comment if you'd like to.

P.S. Mike turns 40 in July, and at a family party in September he is going to shave off that mane of hair with sponsorship to raise money for the Severn Hospice, where he works as Fund raising adviser  He did the same on his thirtieth to raise money for my nursery and his village, so I know it will soon grow back -- grey this time perhaps?!!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

A Happy Day

Yesterday, along with the rest of Cantante singers, I had the pleasure and privilege to sing at a wedding. A young British couple, who for legal and logistical reasons had already been to Gibraltar for a British marriage ceremony, held what they considered to be their 'proper wedding' with friends and family yesterday, and Cantante werre asked to entertain the guests as they arrived, and to lead the hymn singing during the blessing service.

It was held in the function suite at Sol Taberno, a restaurant set in the mountains above Albox. It took us an hour to drive there, and after several kilometers of open road with empty hills and valleys all around us, we did wonder if we were on the right road, but when we eventually arrived, the view was worth the drive. You can just glimpse the sea in the distance.

It was extremely hot! As the bride's mother said to
me, "The Spanish would hold a wedding at 8.00 in the evening and then party all night. Only a mad English family would do it at 5.00". So we were very grateful that they had erected two gazebos for the singers to sit under.

In fact we were better off than the guests, who were seated in the open, but they did put up some big parasols at the back which provided some shade for at least some of them. They had rows of seats with linen covers that were tied with a sash at the back.

It was all very nicely laid out with a wooden structure draped in fine fabric, where the bride and groom were standing, and a table with lovely flowers on it. (The flowers were put in place at the last moment so they were as fresh as possible).
Julie's husband Robin took a lovely, simple service, and we sang 'Love divine' and 'Make me a channel of you peace'. I think they may have struggled a bit with that one if Cantante hadn't been there to lead them.
Then they took us all by surprise when, as we waited for the bride and groom to lead everyone back to the suite for the reception, instead of the usual music, we suddenly heard a much livelier beat and the bride gathered up her train and lead everyone out doing a conga!!

Friday, June 14, 2013


I got my knuckles severely rapped by 'him indoors', because my last post was way too long. I am just not very good at condensing it. So I have been thinking about an alternative method and this week I came across a lovely blog called Celtic House, where each week Virginia does a piece called "Rocking your world Friday" where she lists, with and without photos, all the positive things that have happened in the past week. Isn't that a great philosophy, that even when there is bad stuff going on in your life, you can still find plenty to feel good about. So I have joined her blog as a follower, and this is my first attempt at my week in photos and positive thoughts.

1.Plants that grow while you stand and watch them! These photos were taken two days apart. By next week?

  2. A pesky cacti that we removed from by the front gate and 'threw away' into the green zone behind us a year ago, that refused to die and has burst into flower.

3. Cheap apricots in the market so I could buy enough to eat and to make jam with.

4. An excellent Cantante concert at La Cumbre, on the edge of our village, to raise money for ASADIS on Saturday night. ASADIS is a charity for disabled children in our area. The concert was opened by a group of village children. Cati had taught them to sing Fernando and Chiquitita, in Spanish of course, and they sung them with great gusto as only Spanish children can!

 5. A surprise for me when I was presented with a certificate from the Lions Club in recognition for the 300€ I donated from the sale of my jams and pickles.
6. Between the Lions club and Cantante choir, we have been able to buy the special walking frame that this little girl needs. (I have a much better photo but blogger is refusing to upload a portrait orientated photo. Does anyone else have this problem?)
7. Aerial acrobatics from the birds over the green zone as they catch the flying ants and other bugs, that rise at tea-time.
8. My first proper swim in the pool this year. I don't know why I waited so long!
9. Little Kim, (with older sister Foxy)  who has learned to sit on command, and stay, at least long enough for me to back off and take a photo. He is six month old now and is starting to prick his ears up, and they are enormous! Do you think he will ever 'grow into them'?
He has also learned to go 'down' on command, but that may have something to do with the fact that there is usually a treat if he does!
10. And finally a picture of my new ceramic kettle, that Chris bought for me when I fell in love with it in a shop in Turre. It reminded me so much of Mum, who did so love her poppy mugs.

Do feel free to comment and let me know what you feel about this new style. It is certainly kinder on the eyes than long passages of print. Of course there will be some occasions when a photo and comment are not enough, and I am sure I will be writing my usual chatty posts for them!
Oops! I had to come back to link this to Celtic House blog. I am not used to linking this blog; it is usually only my craft blog that gets linked to others. But feel free to follow the link and find out what other folk are feeling positive about this week.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Reliving the holiday and moving on.

I realise that I have only shared with you a few of my holiday photos, but we have been so busy with other events that I feel I should move on. So I will leave the holiday with two last links for you.
One of the things that I loved both in Seville and

Cordóba was the wide range of beautiful patterns in the tiles of pavements, walls and ceilings, in the wrought iron rejas at the windows, and on paper place mats, beer mats, and shop fronts. The mathematician in me responded to the regular repeat patterns, and as a crafter I loved the skilled use of colour and shape. Many of these patterns will crop up in my crafting in future projects so I put together a file of pictures showing just some of them. There are no captions but I don't think they need any. You can see them by clicking here.

In Cordóba, next to the beautiful Mezquita which I showed in a previous post, there was another ancient building called the Alcazar. This was in itself, not particularly unusual, though it had some interesting mosaics on display, which were discovered in the area, and for those who braved the steep and narrow stone steps in the heat of the day, the views from the top were amazing. But the reason visitors flocked to the Alcazar was to view the beautiful gardens. There were empty patios, peaceful pools surrounded by trees for a quiet rest, long stretches of water where the tinkling of little fountains added to the tranquility, carefully tailored trees, neatly planted flower beds and other areas where wild flowers ran riot.  We spent ages walking around it. As I write this I am uploading another folder showing photos of it, again without captions to save time. I will not publish this until the folder is ready. To see it in all its beauty, just click here.

So what have we been up to since our holiday. Well, during the first week we had the Fiesta de San Isidro. This is a smaller affair than the summer fiesta, but fun all the same. It is held on the Saturday closest to 15th May, (the actual saint's day). It starts with a mass at the village church followed by a 'romeria' which is literally a country walk, but which on this occasion is a group of folk from the village walking behind a lorry that carries a statue of San Isidro. The first years we were here it was a a little cart pulled by a mule, but he must have been retired because it has been a lorry for the last couple of years. 
This is a noisy procession which wends its way up to the sports centre just outside the village. Here there is a very pleasant picnic area, and families gather there to eat their own food, or to wait for the 'gran paella' to be cooked, and served up free to all comers. Our son Michael prides himself on the paellas he cooks, so he will have been disappointed to hear Mikey say that ours was "better than his dad's"! Seating is limited up there so we take our own. But I love the way one family went up early to make sure they would get a table.
San Isidro is the patron saint of the agricultural workers, and the fiesta is always celebrated with a paella and it is dressed up to look so pretty, with a flower arrangement in the centre, lemon 'flowers', little baskets made from oranges, and hearts cut from red peppers. In the evening there is the inevitable music and dancing at the top of our street. We met up with our friends John and Eileen for a while, so Mikey had a chance to see how we party in Spain, and then we left them to it and went home to bed. I've made a little collage of some of these images.

I took little Kim to his first puppy class that week too. He was very good and they were impressed with him. He was the youngest one there, and the man thought he might be too young, but he wasn't a bit phased by the bigger dogs, and did everything they asked him to. Unfortunately it turned out to be the last class for the summer, because it gets too hot for the puppies, and they just want to be left in peace! The man doing the classes is a retired police dog handler, and he suggested that when Kim is few months older, I might like to have a few one to one lessons with him, as he thought he would be a big a strong dog, so I need to know I can control him. He's actually very affectionate and much easier to handle than Miki and Chico were as pups, so I may take up the offer of a few lessons, as he is intelligent and I think he will respond well.

The day after our grandson Mikey went home, we had our first Cantante concert of the season. It was in a beautiful venue - Convento de la Victoria in Vera. It was the old chapel from when the building was a convent, and it had a high domed ceiling, an elaborate backdrop, and attractive archways along each side. 

The acoustics were excellent and we really enjoyed performing there. We have a good, varied programme starting with an African chant and passing through such old favourites as 'When I'm sixty four' and 'Do do ron ron', through softer songs - 'All through the night' and 'Softly as I leave you', a stirring rendition of 'Guide me oh Thou great Jehovah', one slow and beautiful and one very fast Spanish song, and ending with the beautiful 'Do you hear the people sing?' from Les Miserables, moving straight into the 'Battle hymn of the republic', with a few extra 'Glory, glory hallelujahs' at the end because no-one wants it to stop!

There are a few other songs as well, and some lovely

solos from our pianist Sue, Dave on his clarinet and saxophone, and of course our leader and singer Julie.

We have done three concerts now and we have three more to do as well as a private wedding where we are entertaining the guests as they arrive, and leading the community hymn singing. The last of the actual concerts is an important one for me as I have been involved in helping to organise it at a bar on the edge of our village. We do not charge an entrance fee for any of our concerts but we have a donations box, and the money taken is shared between the local Red Cross who are still helping families who lost everything in the floods last September, and ASADIS, the charity for the disabled children in our village and the surrounding area. But at this local concert all the money will go to ASADIS. Many of the children who are helped by this charity will be at the concert with their families, and a group of other children from the village are starting the programme by singing two ABBA songs, (in Spanish of course). There are only eight of them but they sing with such gusto that they make nearly as much noise as the choir! My Spanish friend Cati, who is the founder of ASADIS, has been teaching them, and Julie and I went along to their practice session this week. It should be a great night, and I am really looking forward to it.
We had another concert on Friday night, but we didn't hang around afterwards because there was a fund raising evening, also for ASADIS, at our local bar, El Naranjo, that we wanted to get back for. We were working with Vera branch of Lions, to raise the money to buy a special walker for one of the little girls in the village. She has cerebral palsy, and she has just started school and now needs a special frame to hold her upright and enable her to stand and walk. It is of course very expensive, but between us all we have enough money to go ahead with the fitting for it and by the end of the summer holiday she should be able to go to school with more mobility. (There is no government help for these children, and they all go to main stream school). 
On Friday we had a raffle which raised 600 €, and I

was delighted to be able donate a further 300 € from the sale of my jams and pickles. Cati's daughter Maria presented me with a bouquet of flowers which was a nice surprise.

There are a lot of folk involved with this charity right now; Cati, the president of the Lions club, the choir, the local bar and the parents of the little girl, and I somehow find myself in the role of go-between/coordinator which is both a challenge and a privilege. It puts my Spanish to the test, but also pushes me to improve my conversation skills, and I am pleased to help build bridges between the Spanish and English sections of our community.
Our choir season is very short. We are doing six concerts in under three weeks, because  by the end of the month it will be too hot. Last night we were singing at a bar up in Albox, and it was very warm in there,  so afterwards it was nice to sit outside, chatting to friends, as the air grew cooler. For a long time I sat with my camera poised ready to catch this, and eventually I got the shots I wanted. 

There was a pair of sparrows who were regularly coming to feed their chicks - in a swallows nest! I was surprised, as swallows often return to their nest years after year. I suspect the sparrows may have turfed out the swallow's eggs to make room for their own. Piracy no less; but I enjoyed watching them all the same.