Saturday, July 26, 2014

Rocking your world 2014; Week 30

Well Hello everyone. Seems like ages since I posted here, but I have been enjoying the company of two of my grandsons, who each brought their girl-friends to meet us, and we had a lovely time together. It was also our village fiesta which they wanted to experience first hand. So now I have two weeks of news to condense into a readable blog-post. For the sake of readers who think I don't adhere very closely to the idea of Rocking your world, I will just explain that this blog was started as a means of keeping my family up to date on our lives in Spain. It has grown into a weekly diary which is now  read by many folk beyond my family, so I hope you know you are all welcome, and I really appreciate the comments you leave.
As usual I will start with my Friday smile which this week is, of course, my four lovely visitors. The boys are cousins, both nineteen years old, and born just six weeks apart. Most of our friends out here are retired like us, and it was lovely to have some young company in the house.
They soon settled in, and began to enjoy the warmth and sunshine. I had met Emily before but only heard about Jess, but they were both lovely girls. Kim soon realised he had found a new friend in Jess, and always went to her for extra attention.

It is too hot now for long days out but we had a few short trips, followed by a long siesta, and then a fun evening out, which we sometimes joined them for, but not every day. We went up to Mojacar Pueblo so they could pick up a few gifts to take home. This is the little white village on top of the hill, overlooking Mojacar Playa or beach. The view at the top is fantastic, but it is hard to catch it on camera. Not that that stopped me trying though!
We spent one morning at the village pool. It is only open during July and August, which is a shame. It is a beautiful pool, always spotlessly clean, with a lovely view of the mountains. We nearly cooked ourselves that day because we stayed in the water for so long, with our head and shoulders in the sun all the time. It was like bobbing around in a huge bath.

Another day I left them at the beach and went back
for them later. Even at the height of the summer season our beaches are not crowded like the ones at home are, and there is always a bright array of colourful umbrellas, because everyone takes their own, so they are all different.
Marcus and Emily could only stay for the first week, so towards the end of it they said the four of them wanted to take us out for a meal. We went to a place called Hostel Rural in Turre, where the food is always good, and the setting is lovely. They were very surprised when we were given a schnapps 'on the house' when we were leaving, though this is quite usual out here. We sat outside to drink them, and took it in turns to take a photo of each couple under a tunnel of vines.
The fiesta started on 16th this year which is the actual
Saint's day for Virgen del Carmen, our village patron saint, so the first event was an open air mass in her honour on the plaza. All the villagers dress up in their flamenco clothes and bring floral tributes to place around the statue. There was a lovely old priest who led the mass this year, and even with my limited understanding of the language I could tell he had a great sense of humour.

After this we joined the throng sitting around on the plaza, drinking vino tinto from plastic cups, and eating tapas, into the early hours of the next day! Chris and I were the first to go home, followed an hour later by the two girls, but the lads stayed the course, stumbling in at 7.00 the next morning. Unfortunately we had to pour a rather fragile young man onto his plane later that day, but he made it home. Oh to be nineteen again!

The other main event of the fiesta is the 'cintas', or ribbons, which are wound around a rope stretched across the road, and the boys ride their bikes under it and try to catch a ribbon. When they do, one of the 'cinteras', or young girls, ties the ribbon around the boy like a sash, ans gives him a kiss and a gift. It is a strange ritual but very much a part of the tradition of this fiesta. The little girls dress up for the occasion and they look so cute.

I couldn't resist taking this picture because the little
girl is posing so unselfconsciously. It is a typical Spanish pose, and they seem to be born with a natural ability to do it.
The fiesta was all over by the weekend, but on Saturday we had one of those days when the only thing to do is to stay inside. The temperature soared to well above forty out in the sun, and there was a strong wind that felt like a giant hair-drier blowing on you. Fortunately it was all gone by the next day, leaving a film of fine, brown dust on everything. 

On Monday I took Mikey and Jess down to Garrucha harbour and we had a wander around there. 
There was a replica of an old tall-ship at one of the docks. Both the youngsters are fair-skinned but they managed to pick up a bit of a tan, and lots of
new freckles! At least they went home looking as though they had had a good holiday. There is a bar along the harbour that sells a particular line of wine that comes in lovely blue bottles. They range the empties all around their seating area, and I love the look of them.
On their last day, we took Mikey and Jess out for a drive as we had not ventured far from home all through their holiday. They were all used to family holidays where they 'went some-where' every day, and they were looking forward to just
relaxing by the pool, and doing their own thing. But they liked the idea of a little outing for the last day so we drove them over the mountain at the end of Mojacar Playa, to Carbonares, and then on to Agua Amarga which means Bitter water. There are some viewpoints at the top of the hill,
where you can see out along the coast. It makes you realise how rugged and unspoilt our bit of Spain is. It's not all like Benidorme and Torrevieja!. Looking back the way we came, you can just see the road we had travelled on a few minutes earlier. We drove straight through Carbonares which is a fairly ordinary sea-side town, and stopped when we got to Agua Armarga. This is a pretty fishing village with a bay that is geared up for holiday makers, with an area for pedalos, ball -game nets etc. There is a chirinnguito on the sand where we were happy to sit in the shade of the palm trees, and enjoy a cold drink before we drove back home again.

There have been other things besides the visitors to make me happy in the last few weeks.
On Wednesday 16th I was invited to be guest
designer for the Butterfly Challenge when the theme was 'Spots and Stripes'. This is the card I made, and you can read more about here HERE.
This challenge happened to coincide with one of my sisters' birthdays, so I was able to send the card to her, but I made sure it reached her so she could see it 'for real' before she saw it on my blog.
I made my first commissioned vinyl creation for my son to give to his partner on his birthday, and he loved it, so that was a big relief. Here is a small photo of it but I have not written a blog post about it yet. It was made using his favourite colour and poem. (It has one letter missing in this photo, which fortunately I spotted and put right before I sent it on to him!).
I have know for a few weeks that we would be great-grandparents again around Christmas time, and I know know that the baby is a boy, so Isaac will have a little brother to play with!
I think I had better stop there and get this linked up at Annie's Friday Smiles and Virginia's blog for Rocking your world. I hope you have all had a good week too. Thanks for staying with me through all this ramble. Love you all!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Rocking your world 2014; Week 27

Hi again. Yes it really is Friday already, so let's see what I've been up to this week, and then you can follow me over to Virginia's blog, Celtic House, and share her happy moments too. You could even add yours. We'd love to hear from you.

First my Friday Smile which again features our dear little Tango. On Monday I did my main monthly shop, (it is too hot to go more than once unless I have to). Because I visit at least three different supermarkets to find what I want, I come home with lots of separate bags that have to be unpacked, and the contents put away. As I empty each one I toss it on the floor until they are all done, and then fold them away too. So as I nudged one out of my way with my foot I was surprised to find it was heavy. The ones on the floor are supposed to be empty! Looking inside, this is what I found.
He looks quite comfy there doesn't he, but I don't remember buying him at the shops! I shall be linking this up with Annie's Friday Smiles.

I do love the way nature takes care of its own house-
keeping. The other night I took a bag of rubbish out to the road-side bin when it was almost dark, and I noticed a dark patch just outside our gate. I shone a torch on it and found it was a large beetle, probably a cicada, that was dead (I hope), and it was surrounded by the tiniest ants. They were swarming all over it, so I left them to it. The next morning there was no sign of any ants or beetle remains. There is something to be said for carrion creatures. Someone has to clean up the dead bodies, so they may as well get their dinner while they can!
A few years ago we spent quite a lot having a fly-free netted area erected around our back porch and lower patio area. The flies can be very troublesome in the summer, and quite spoil the experience of sitting/ eating outside, so for us, it was a good investment. Unfortunately, the dogs were still young, and two are terrified of loud noises, so when there was an exceptionally bad thunderstorm while we were out, they tore through the netting to get to the house! Then we had Kim who found the ragged edges just too tempting, and he completed the job of wrecking the screens. Well now he is older, we decided to have the netting replaced, this time with a much stronger, supposedly dog-proof one, around the lower frames, and the normal one up higher. We also had a dog-flap fitted in the panel next to the door. 
We used a different firm this time, in the hope of
getting a better quality product, and I was a bit concerned when they told us that they only use black netting, not the grey we had originally. But now it is up, you can hardly see it at all. It gives some protection from the sun, to me it feels several degrees cooler than out in the yard, and we can once again, eat our meals, and I can sit and sew etc in comfort.  The area is at least the size of our biggest room indoors, and it is a very pleasant place to sit.
The dog-flap is quite different to the ones we had in UK, which were made of a hard plastic, and made a lot of noise every time the dog went in or out. This one is a pliable, semi-transparent, rubbery type of material, with a strong magnetic strip to snap it closed along the lower edge. We needed to know the dogs could use it before we left them alone again, so Chris and I stood one on either side, with a handful of treats each, and called them through over and over. Kim soon got the idea, but he was enjoying the treats so we almost resorted to tying him up while we worked with the other two! Miki wasn't keen, but she soon mastered it, and those two now come and go with ease. Foxy was a different matter. She is smaller and quite nervous, and she wouldn't push it with her nose hard enough to open it. 
Kim got quite concerned when he and Miki were
inside, and Foxy was left out in the yard. He kept going out to sit by her, and almost seemed to be showing her what to do. However, she soon learned that if she sat there long enough, one of the others would pass through and she could slip in under their slip-stream! She does now do it herself when she has to.
It is now very hot here most days, in the upper thirties at least, out in the sun, though much more pleasant in the shade, but we have had high winds most afternoons that blow all the garden debris into drifts around the garden, and into the pool. The dogs prefer to stay in the fly-free most of the day, and it is better for them. But we have just about given up trying to have comfortable furniture for us out there, because they take over anything we try. 

I caught Miki and Kim curled up on the little settee when I left the cushions out there. Look at Kim. He is just daring me to make him move. Actually they would be cooler

stretched out on the floor, so they don't stay up there for long, and I have a big, old bed-spread that I drape over it when I am going to sit there.
It has been an odd week for me because Chris has been in UK for his sister's funeral. Flights are at a premium with this being summer holiday time, and our usual one from Almeria was an exorbitant price, and not on a very convenient day, so on Tuesday we drove over to Murcia, so he could go on the evening flight to Birmingham from there. My eyesight is not good these days so I try not to drive at night, when the lights of oncoming traffic bother me. But it is not properly dark until 10 o'clock now so we left in good time, and I turned straight around and drove home (about an hour and a half). I thought I was going to be blinded by the setting sun most of the way, but fortunately it was mostly to the side of me, and I witnessed the most spectacular sun-set I have seen for ages. I didn't have my camera with me, and even if I had, I would not have been able to stop on the motorway to take pictures, but it was a privilege to see it, and it made my journey home much nicer than it might have been.
Actually it was quite a surreal experience to bowl along the toll road with the sky on fire alongside me, and not another car in sight for most of the way. It is no wonder the authorities are saying the toll road isn't paying its way. No-one uses it because it is too expensive. If they could only see that halving the cost would probably quadruple the traffic! I used it because it is a good bit quicker, and a very straight-forward route. I have done the alternative 'free' route, but not on my own, and I am not confident enough to do it alone yet. Fortunately when I go to collect Chris again tomorrow, his flight lands mid-morning, so it should be an easy trip, and I'll only have to drive one-way. He'll drive us home.

So while I was home alone I decided to do something useful with my time. We have a rather 'posh' garage, with a fully tiled floor, and rugs on it, two windows, and the car never gets to go in it! Spanish houses, (and this is a very typically Spanish house), are notorious for having no storage space. As a race, they do not seem to hoard things, nor have little ornaments etc decorating their rooms. But the previous owners of this house (English) had floor to ceiling cupboards fitted all along the back of the garage, so it is the obvious place to put everything that hasn't got a home elsewhere. Needless to say, it soon became a dumping ground, so sometimes it is dangerous to try to enter! But when we turned the second spare bedroom into my craft room, we took the two single beds that fold up to the wall, away, and fixed them in the garage instead, so very occasionally our garage becomes a bedroom. Next week we have two grandsons and their two girlfriends coming over, and the extra beds will be needed, so I thought I had better try and clear enough floor space to fold them down. We have a rather unfortunate situation out here, where, when you buy a large item, it's packaging and the till receipt together, form the guarantee, so you need to store huge cardboard cartons for a year or two after every purchase, and of course, you rarely think to throw them out when the time has elapsed. So my first task was to sort through all the cartons and dispose of any that had passed their guarantee date. Then I loaded this lot into the car and took it all to the recycle bins on the edge of the village.
I then sorted through the cupboards, throwing out some oddments on the premise that if I haven't needed them since we moved in, then I probably never will! We have an easy way to dispose of these things. We leave them beside the big road-side rubbish bin, and within an hour they will have disappeared! Just another form of recycling! So I am feeling very pleased with my efforts. There is still a bit to do but I have to wait for Chris to come home, so he can help me with the heavy stuff, but it will be quite a tidy bedroom again by the end of the week.

A few days ago I noticed a very long lorry had parked across the green-zone at the back of the house. By the next day, bumper cars were erected, and last night the lights and music were switched on.
This photo was taken just at sundown from the back of the house, but you can't see the lights, nor can it convey the way the house vibrates to the beat of the music! It is loud; Very loud! But hey, it means that it is summer, and almost fiesta time. For a couple of weeks the village will be a hive of activity as more rides arrive and go up on every bit of spare land, dance floors try out their ear-piercing sound systems, flags and lights are strung across the streets and plazas, and everyone is in a holiday mood. July 16th is the big day but the fun and games go on for several days on either side of this, and for some unknown reason, the bumper cars are always in use for a week before anyone else is allowed to trade.
After my experience with the motorway sunset I was hoping for another one that I could catch on camera, but it hasn't happened. I did take this one from a corner of our yard. It is looking South-east I think, and the Cabrera mountains are reflecting the setting sun, and turning a lovely rosy pink.
the sky was still light, and I thought I would wait an hour and then pop uo to the top of the village to catch the sun slipping behind the mountains to the West. Well either I left it too late, or the sky was just too cloudless and clear to give a good sunset, because this was all I could get.
It's not very spectacular, but lovely all the same!
Now I am going to link this up, and then make a cup of tea and take my sewing out to our lovely fly free area, to give the hounds a bit of company for a while. See you all next week.