Friday, December 26, 2014

Rocking my World 2014; Week 52

Yes here we are at the last week of the year. I have enjoyed sharing my smiles each week, and relating the high points that make my life out here so enjoyable. I hope to continue into 2015 with a positive post each Friday. It is a great way to keep in touch with friends and family, and also a good way to ensure we do focus on the positive aspects of our life, so that any negative ones seem smaller and less important. My mantra for this year has been "It is what you focus your mind on, that determines whether you are stressed or blessed". So let´s all think positively and be blessed rather than stressed. 

For my Christmas smile here is a picture I saw on the internet a week or two ago, and it made me think of our big boy, Kim.

Kim stands like this for ages, but instead of his head being on the chair, it is buried in my lap! But on Christmas Eve, we went out to some friends for a while and when we got home we let the dogs in with us for a bit. And Kim decided that, despite my telling him that he is too big to be a lap dog now, he didn´t agree. Tango, who usually has that spot was not impressed, but he didn´t move off completely, so I had them both. At least there was no chance of me feeling cold!
So, before I link up with Annie´s Friday Smiles, I´ll give you a quick run down on the rest of the week.
Starting with last Saturday, seeing as we had been entertaining everyone else for the past few weeks, with the choir concerts, we decided to be entertained ourselves, and booked two seats at the local camping site restaurant, for a Christmas buffet and entertainment by´Jon the Fiddler´. The meal was excellent and we took photos of each other, with both of us looking as though we had enjoyed it, which we had!!
Sadly the musician was in hospital following an accident and we weren´t all that inspired by his replacement, but we still had a good evening.
On Christmas Eve we were invited to some friends for our own little ´carols by candle-light´, as nowhere around here does a mid-night mass, and our carol service had been in the morning two Sundays ago.
It was a bit of a last minute arrangement, but it was a quiet day for us so I decided to make a gift to take with me. I had seen a poem on a plate, on the internet that morning, and wanted to have a go at it.
Someone on the Silhouette facebook page had kindly shared the cutting file so I was able to just resize it to fit the plate I was using, and thankfully it cut well the first time, (I was cutting it from black vinyl). It was a bit fiddly to weed out the unwanted bits,  - so many letter ´e´s to remove the little eye from - but I only had to recut a few, and then I transferred it to the plate. I filled it with bite-sized mince pies that I had made first thing that day, so my gift was done just in time.

The house we were visiting was rather off the beaten track, so we met up with other friends when we were nearly there, and followed them for the last bit. We had not been there before, and I doubt whether I would find them again! We spent a lovely evening with lovely people, enjoying good food, warm candle-light and sang some favourite carols together as well.
Christmas morning dawned bright and sunny so we managed to take our traditional photo to post on facebook for our family and friends. As you can see, we toasted the morning in with a big mug of tea. How very British of us!!
While we were doing that, the dogs sat patiently waiting for their Christmas treats.
It clouded over later in the morning and then the sun broke through again. We were going our for dinner at a local venue, where we were meeting up with a group of friends. I think there were fourteen of us. As we drove there, the clouds began to part and long shafts of sunlight lit up the countryside.

Again we had an excellent meal washed down with copious bottles of wine and cava. We were in great company, the staff were efficient and friendly, and there was an English singer/DJ to provide background music. It was great fun and much better than our usual quiet meal for just the two of us at home. We had two round tables put together, so I took a photo from each end.
We were home in time for a relaxing evening in front of the TV.
This morning was again bright and sunny so I suggested we had a walk along the playa at Mojacar. It was lovely and warm, and there were surprisingly few folk around. 
It did us both good to get out in the sunshine, and walk off some of the extra Chrsitmas food and drink.
Boxing Day is not celebrated out here, so all the shops are open and everything is back to normal. There will be a bit of celebrating for New Year´s Eve, but our main celebration is not until Three Kings Day on 6th January.
One nice surprise was waiting for me when we got home. Our house guest had arrived. Her flight from Australia was delayed so she was too late to share our Christmas dinner, but I am sure we will have lots fun showing her around for a few weeks.
Allow me to introduce Flat Susan. This is not a
particularly good photo of her, but she is a bit jet-lagged so we´ll take a few more when she has rested. Flat-Susan has been around the world during the past year, travelling in her own suitcase, (a matchbox), and she has had some amazing adventures. I shall enjoy reading about them in her photo albumn and passport. She is nearing the end of her journey now, and I shall be returning her to her home in UK at the end of January, but I hope we can give her a good time in our corner of Spain first. I´m sure you will be meeting her again.
So that is the excitement of Christmas over with. I hope you have all had a lovely time so far. I have chatted to most of the family via Skype this week, but I have a few more calls to make now, so I´ll leave you with just one sky photo from the past few days, link up with Virginia at Celtic House, and I´ll hopefully see you all again, Next Year!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Rocking Your World 2014: Week 51

Whoa, here we are at the penultimate post of the year, and what a busy week it has been. Lots of photos again this week peeps but I couldn´t choose any to leave out!
I am starting with my smile of the week which came
from a lovely card I received from one of my sewing group friends. It is actually much prettier than this in shades of mint green and pink, but I deliberately edited it to make sure you could read the words. She said she saw a similar poem somewhere and adapted it to suit what she wanted it to say. I am sure all my crafting friends will appreciate it!
I will be linking that up with Annie´s Friday Smiles in just a minute.

But first I will do a quick run through the rest of my week. So we´ll start with Sunday when we had our carol concert at church. The choir we sing in was leading the music, and I also did one of the readings. I love the carol service and this one was no exception.

We don´t normally have a service at night, but that evening I was invited to attend a Christingle service at the little Anglican church in Mojacar. It is actually quite a distance beyond Mojacar, out on the road towards Carboneras, and it took a good half hour to drive there. Chris came with me. We had not been to this church before so we weren´t sure where it was, but it turned out to be quite easy to find. It had been raining all day and only stopped just as we went out, so there was a lovely pale washed-out look to the sky, and the sun did try to break through giving us a shiny road to follow as it was reflected off the wet surface.
It looks almost like a painting doesn´t it?
As we drove along the coastal road, the sky lightened.
Then we turned inland a little, and on the other side of the hills, the sun was still shining - just!
The church itself was a lovely little building set on a small hill with some narrow, steep steps leading up to it. The design was interesting. Apparently it was built by a man who had lived, and made his money in the Philippines, and he had chosen to make the front of it resemble a shell.
The best part about the evening was the reason I was invited to attend. I had the privilege to accept a cheque from the church for 1,000€ on behalf of ASADIS. I had hoped to take my Spanish friend Cati with me, as she runs this charity, but unfortunately she was unable to come, so I collected it for her.
What a generous gift! It will do so much for the disabled children in our village.
On Monday we had our next Cantante choir concert. Again we had a good crowd turn up to listen to us. I think we get better with each performance.
Tuesday was concert number five, and in many ways this was the best one of all. We went to residential home in Velez Rubio.
This is not a very good photo, but I did not take it. I am using it because it is the only one that I am in! (I´m fourth from the left, at the back). Normally I am holding the camera, but on this day quite few were taking photos, and someone gave me this one. It is the only one I have of us in our lovely, sparkley, Christmassy green and red scarves. The gentleman in the wheelchair was the reason we were there. He used to sing with us, but is too unwell to do so now, and he was so thrilled that we went to him instead. (The gentleman at the end of the front row has photo-bombed us, but that´s alright!). The home has a cross section of able-bodied, elderly residents, and others who need full time nursing care, and most of them came along to the concert, even those in wheelchairs and stretcher beds. One younger man, who probably had cerebral palsy, was in a wheelchair, unable to move much or to speak, but when he heard the music, especially when one of our musicians played the clarinet polka, his face lit up and you could see he was just dancing inside. It was an amazing moment. Just along side of me there was a very frail lady, all wrapped up in a reclining chair and she appeared to be asleep, but all through every song, her hands were beating in perfect time to the music. It was such a rewarding afternoon.
In the entrance hall of the home there was this lovely Belén (Nativity scene) set up. Out here these always include all aspects of village life, so you may just be able to see the goatherd with his flock, the butcher killing a pig, and the women drawing water at the fuente.
The big towns and cities set up several Beléns in marquees on their plazas and street corners.
The town where the home is, is inland from here and quite a bit higher than us. The views as we drove up were wonderful. Again it was a wet day on and off, but the cloud formation looked like a tornado, funnelling up from the mountains (or it might have been down to them!).
It was considerably colder up there, but fortunately we weren´t going right up to the snow caps. Our destination was the little town nestling down below them.
Wednesday was the day of our sewing group party. Everyone was in high spirits, especially when Father Christmas came to distribute presents, and our organiser dressed up as Santa´s Little Helper! I love the bright pink tights.

We sat around enjoying nibbles and drinks, handed out, and received, lots of cards, and made groups on each table to do a Christmas quiz. Some of us did manage to get our knitting or sewing out, but not much work was done!

Then a couple of kind husbands arrived to ferry us to a nearby restaurant where we had a lovely dinner. It was a Spànish meal rather than a typical English Christmas dinner, and it was all very nice.

This is the restaurant we were at. It is actually a hostel with a large indoor dining room as well as an outside bar and summer dining area under canvas. We are going there for dinner on Christmas Day this year, with a group of friends. We normally have a very quiet day at home together, but we thought it might be a nice change to go out this year. I took this photo this week. I hope we get a blue sky like that on Christmas Day too.

On Thursday we had yet another dinner out. This time it was the one organised by the Town hall for Los
mejores, literally "The old ones", of the village and surrounding area. We do pay to go to this, but it is heavily subsidised by the Town. There were five coach loads of us travelling in convoy just down the motorway a bit, to a large function room. We had an excellent five course meal, and as much of anything we wanted, to drink. Judging by all the empty plates on our table, I think we all enjoyed the dessert! There was a Flemenco singer/dancer to entertain us, and then disco music for dancing before we were all bused back home.
We arrived home at ten past seven, and by eight o´clock we had changed our clothes and driven to Alfoquia, (half an hour from here) and were ready to sing in our final concert for this season. It was a bit of a rush, but worth the effort to get there. The bar where we were singing was packed out, and they gave us a standing ovation at the end. You could just feel that it had gone well.
So now everything has almost finished and this week I can settle down, maybe watch some television and do some knitting, and just a little festive cooking too.
I have enjoyed seeing everyone else´s decorations over the past couple of weeks so here are a few of mine. I showed the tree last week, but I finally got the rest up inbetween doing everything else, and I do like to see them.
A few weeks ago I showed you a big branch I found under a pine tree so here is what I did with it. It has also got twinkling white lights twined around it, but I couldn´t get a good photo when they were switched on.
Under this, on the hall table, I have my white Mary and Joseph that I made several years ago, and my little fabric nativity that I made when my now forty-year old son, was about five! It really is on its last legs now, but I can´t bear not to have it out every year.
Also in the hall is this picture which I sewed in cross stitch when I was still in UK. It took ages to do because I hated sewing with the gold metallic thread, but I liked it when it was finished. The cut star of fabric was part of the kit, and I was so pleased when I found a gold frame to fit it in. Now it comes out every Christmas and is a part of our tradition.

I wonder how many of you saw the film Pollyanna. One of my sisters took me to see it when I was quite small and I loved it. I always watch it again when it is shown on TV and I still need a box of tissues beside me when I do! In it, the little girl is taken to visit a grumpy old bed-ridden woman, and she finally makes her smile by taking the crystals from her chandelier and stringing them across the window so that rainbows danced around the room. I always said, that one day I would have crystals on my windows, and so I have. There are three on my kitchen window and I love to watch the rainbows on my walls and cupboards. So do the cats and it is really funny to see them trying to catch them! 

When I was in Granada last week I bought a new crystal. It´s a bit more fancy than my others, and I have hung it on the porch door. It is so pretty, and although it is a bit like a Christmas tree, I shall leave it up when the other decorations come down. Our room is long and fairly narrow, and too dark for my liking, but this proved to me that the light from the porch at one end, does really reach right up to the other end, because there is a door there into the hall, and when I was standing there this week, this is what I saw on the panes of frosted glass in it. Pollyanna would be proud of me!

This quilted tree is new. I only made it last year, but the cross stitched ornaments below it are some my sister Jean made for me many years ago. They have hung from various things over the years, but last year I attached them to a fabric wreath I made, and that´s where they are staying.
And finally here is a lovely metal branch with big mother-of-pearl ´pennies´on it, that always hangs on the sitting room wall. At Christmas I hang decorations on it like another little tree.

I nearly forgot to add how grateful I am that my computer issues seem to be sorted at last. Chris has done everything he could think of to try and improve my internet, including restoring the system to how it was when I had it new, and it had improved the situation a lot. But it seems that half of the problem was down to our provider, and they sent a man round tonight who has added a new larger antenna, and now my internet is working as it should, all evening. So I don´t need to be doing this at silly o´clock in the morning, but I still am, because I have only just found time to start on it! I must do some time-management for next year.
Well as usual I have rabbited on for rather a long time but I do have just four sky photos for you before I go. I glanced out of my window on Monday at teatime and saw a few orange stripes in the sky.
I didn´t think we had had enough sun for there to be much of a sunset, but when I went out to feed the dogs, I took my camera with me anyway. And I was rewarded because the orange gradually got deeper.
Then suddenly the whole sky was on fire, and it really took me by surprise.
No, I am not looking for any faces in that one, but I just had to add this one because there is no denying that a bat - or maybe a flying cat -  is swooping down on us here! I hope you can see it too, or you will be thinking that I really have lost the plot.
Well that´s it from me. I shall link up with Annie, and with Virginia at her Rocking my World blog, and then I´m off to bed.
A big Thank you to all my followers who faithfully plough through my weekly ramblings, and leave such nice comments,. I do appreciate you all. And I wish you all a Very Happy Christmas, and Prosperous and Healthy New Year.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Rocking your World 2014: Week 50

Hi folks. Today I am starting with the Smile I wanted to use a couple of weeks back. 

This is a photo of my beautiful grand-daughter, Emma, in her eighth month of pregnancy. The second photo is her little boy who is three. I think the Autumnal shades of his jumper and his bright, curly hair, make the rusty ferns a perfect setting for this photo, and I love it. Both photos were taken by Emma´s friend Nesta LLoyd, a very talented young photographer. I have been waiting for her permission to use these photos as technically they belong to her, but she was happy for me to show them. She took a beautiful set of photos for Emma and John´s wedding too.

I love the look of concentration on Isaac´s face. He is not phased by the camera at all. He is so excited about the baby brother that Father Christmas is going to bring him, so I just hope he arrives on time! And of course, we are very excited about having a second great-grandson, hence the Smile!

I do not usually give presents for new babies until they arrive, but I saw this pattern and just had to make it for him, and post it early so he has it in time for Christmas. In case you are wondering what it is, here is the photo from the actual pattern. 

It is called a cocoon and I think it looks so cosy, and might be better than tightly wrapping baby in a blanket. They don´t always need that in a modern, centrally heated home. I think they are an American idea, as there were lots of different ones on the American site where I bought the pattern, but I am not familiar with them in UK. Anyway, I thought this was rather fun, and Emma says she can´t wait to show it to Nesta, who will take some gorgeous photos of the baby in it. So you may be seeing it again in a week or two. The little one is due around the 19th.

Well that aside, I have had a lovely week and  this post might be a bit heavy with photos, so I´ll try not to talk too much!

Saturday was the day of our Gallarte sale. This was my table.

I was particularly pleased with the Nativity scene, light box that you can see at the back right of the photo. The sale was well attended and I took 100€ which is more than double what I have taken in previous sales. You can read all about the items I made etc on my craft blog, by clicking HERE.
I was on duty at the sale for the second half of the morning, so when we closed up for ´siesta time´, Chris took me to the local bar for lunch. It was a lovely warm day and sitting there in the sun I was warm enough to shed my cardigan. As it was a nice day I decided to have a glass of tindo de verano (Summer wine) to go with my lunch, and it came in a huge glass! Lunch was delicious and so was the drink, and the sunshine was lovely. And all that in December!!

That evening I had to ask a friend to keep an eye to my table at the sale, because we were singing in a choir concert at Vera Convento. As I have shown this venue several times with the choir on this blog, I have not taken more pictures of it, but I had to take one of this beautiful bank of poinsettias. There was one of these on each side of the entrance hall at the Convento. They were stunning!

And on the subject of poinsettias, we went out on Monday to buy new lights for our tree, and while we were out, we also bought these plants to go in the new stand on our front porch. They are quite sheltered there so we are hoping they will survive, at least over the Christmas period, and hopefully for much longer.

Considering it is December, the garden is looking
lovely, with splashes of colour all over the place. The two pots of pansies I planted up a while ago are still full of flowers making a patch of colour on the front step. We also have flowers on the deep pink hibiscus, and the red kalanchoe and blue plumbago on the garage windows are still going strong.
When we bought those, we also planted up two window boxes for the windows on the front of the house and they are now well established, and are looking lovely.

Over to the left of the house front, the incarvillea, which is really in our neighbours garden, is still a mass of flowers. It looks wonderful.

And to the right of the house, where we have our tiny square of plantable garden, the roses are having a late bloom. Every time I see these I think of my mum. She always had a little saying from a Patience Strong calendar, pinned inside her desk, which said "God gave us our memories that we might have roses in December". And now I have roses in December without the help of my memory, but they always bring back memories of Mum.
One last flower that I am really pleased with is this
one. It goes by the great name of Aeonium arboreum, Green Beauty. It grows just beyond the railings at the back of our house, and every year I have been hoping it would flower, but it never has before. This is not a particularly good specimen and I actually thought it had died last year, but as I said last week, it is hard to kill anything here! When really healthy, it has lovely rosettes of green, succulent leaves and the cones of yellow flowers grow up from the centre. I don´t think it should even be flowering at this time of year, but I believe it is saying Thank you to us for cutting down the trees last month, and giving it access to the light and sun. Some friends also gave me a cutting of the purple/black leaved variety which is in a pot in the front garden. It also has not flowered so far, but I am trying to find a better spot for it, and keep hoping!
Oh look there is one more flower in amongst the greenery!
I took Tango in as a rather pathetic little stray, back in May, and since then he has `blossomed´, and is now a beautiful cat, currently wearing his thick winter coat. Until now he has hardly left the house, but in the last week or two he has started venturing out. I am happy to let him now as he has proved he can find his way back home, and the fresh air and sunshine are good for him. As you can see, he is very wary outside, and the slightest thing sends him scurrying for the door again, but he is enjoying sitting in the soft greenery that has sprung up in the green zone since the rain came.
We have had two more choir concerts this week, which have been well-attended, and everyone seems to have enjoyed them. There have been some very nice comments afterwards. We have a lovely programme this time, and I do enjoy singing all the Christmas music. We have three more concerts to go during the coming week, and after that everything will quieten down, though I have plenty of things to catch up on when I have more spare time.
I have one more big grateful this week, for my patient husband who has tried every day to resolve my computer, and in particular my internet problems. He has now done a system restore to the month when I had the new computer, and it is a bit better, though the internet is still very slow in the evenings. But he has given up so much time to fix it, and I am really thankful to be able to use it again.
Inbetween all the other things this week, I have been
trying to get some Christmas decorations up. I usually put them up on the first weekend in December, but there has been so much going on that I just haven´t had time. But the tree is up, complete with its new lights, and I love it. All the decorations have such meaning and fond memories for me, and I love unwrapping them each year, and reminiscing on the great family Christmases we have enjoyed.
While I was out on Wednesday, our village also put up some Christmas lights. We always get one on the lamp-post outside our house, and this year it is Father Christmas. It looks as though it will be quite a colourful one. We get something different each year. Further up the road there are reindeer pulling a sleigh stretched right across the street, but I like the individual ones we get down our end. I expect they will be switched on at the weekend. Ours come on a bit later than some places, because we have a fiesta for Epiphany, so ours stay lit until after 6th January.
My other big Smile this week is my Wednesday sewing group´s outing to Granada on Wednesday. Here are the four mad friends I spent the day with.
We had a really fun time, with lots of laughs, a lovely lunch and even managed a bit of Christmas shopping. It is a long way to go for a day out, so our coach left the village at 8.00 in the morning, and got back at 10.00 at night. I slept well after that!
Of course I took quite a few photos but I decided I didn´t want to carry my heavy camera around all day, so I used my phone. This is my favourite photo of the day. We were in a lovely sunny plaza, looking down a shady street, and in the background you can see the snowy slopes of Sierra Nevada. Beautiful!
Here are just a few more images of the day.
The Moroccan bazaars that line the sides of the cathedral.
A Belén or Nativity scene above the farmacia. (Sorry about the lamp-post. I couldn´t work around it).
The trees on either side of this picture were artificial, and they were smothered in flower shaped lights. I would have loved to have seen them all lit up, but unfortunately our coach left just before switching on time.
As you can see, there were not exactly hoards of Christmas shoppers. I probably took this during siesta time, when many of the smaller shops were closed, but even so, you might expect to see a few more folk than this wandering about.
This constructed tree was the centre-piece in the big plaza in front of the cathedral. It was surrounded by cafes and little temporary craft stalls. Again, I expect it looked very pretty when it was lit up. 
As we left Granada we passed the second shopping centre on the outskirts, and by then there were quite a few Christmas lights on, but I couldn´t get decent photos of them from the coach.

Well if you are still with me after that marathon I will only bore you with one sky photo this week. No faces in it this time, (or is there?!) but it was lovely all the same.
Now I shall try and get this linked up to Virginia at Celtic House, and Annie´s Friday Smiles, and then I shall get a few more Christmas decorations out before I go to bed.