Hi folks. Not only has another week flown by, but another month has too, and here we are in October already. Maybe I'm biased as it is my birthday month, but when we lived in UK, October was my favourite month, with the Autumn colours everywhere, and often an Indian summer of sunny days. Here in Spain it is very different but still a lovely month. If we are lucky there is still plenty of sunshine to come, but the temperature is more comfortable and there are plenty of flowers around still. If you asked most people about October flowers they would think of the russet and yellow hues of late sunflowers and chrysanthemums. Here the colour in my garden is pink! The incarvillea, which is actually growing in our neighbours' garden, is running riot all along the fence and along the ground, and it is covered in pretty pink flowers.
Another flower putting on quite a show right now is my Stepelia Gigantea. Just when I thought it wasn't going to bloom this year, a few buds appeared. These grow at an amazing rate, and swell out to big round bowls.
Within a week they burst open to reveal this huge star. It has a rather unpleasant smell - like rotting meat - which attracts the flies. It is not a particularly attractive colour, but it has red veins running around it that are covered in hairs, and a striking deep red centre.
This morning I planted a tray of winter pansies in my pots too, so they will soon be offering more flowers. I love their little faces.
Last week I told you about having our trees cut down, so when a friend contacted me last week and asked if he could have the logs we were happy for him to take them. He came with a mate on Tuesday afternoon and they worked hard preparing a stack of wood and promised to return with a van later to collect them.
Sadly he sent me another message to tell me that his Spanish neighbour had warned him not to burn mimosa. Apparently, they do not give out a lot of heat as they grow so fast, but the really worrying point is the amount of oil they give out. The oil sticks to the woodburner and the chimney flue and then the soot sticks to the oil, leading to chimney fires. I guess the Spanish have had plenty of experience with log burners so I am sure it is sensible to take his advice. So we now have a neat stack of wood which will just have to stay there until it crumbles - in my lifetime?
This week I had an order of craft materials delivered and they were packed in a large pizza box. I unpacked it and put the box on the floor to be binned later, but when I returned from getting our lunch, I found Arwen had adopted it for her new home! She has curled up on it every day since, so I haven't the heart to throw it away. I expect she will grow tired of it in the end and I'll be able to throw it out then!
Cats are funny creatures, but once they've set their mind on something, there is no moving them!
Because I wanted to finish my cross stitch project while the days are still light, I have tried to spend a little time each afternoon on it, and yesterday I did the last stitches, so here it is at the end of phase one. It looks a bit of a mess as it is just how it was when I took my embroidery frame off it, so it is wrinkled and also decidedly grubby because it has been a 'work in progress' for about a year. I shall wash it gently when it is completely finished.
It is only the end of phase one as it still has lots of top-stitching to be done, which will be a further few weeks of work. I have never done a picture with so much top-stitching before, but I am sure it will enhance the finished project. I wouldn't recommend sewing a monochrome picture unless you have good eyesight. I found this quite difficult and I could only do a few threads at a time, but I am pleased with it now it is done. (That last dark corner, bottom right, nearly finished me off!). I'll show you again after the top-stitching is done, but don't hold your breath...! I am doing it for my youngest son who is a pianist and I love it when he plays jazz pieces.
Yesterday I had an amazing experience. It had been a stormy day, and was already approaching dusk when I gave the dogs their tea. We are used to seeing little birds darting around catching insects over the green zone, but they are usually too high to see them properly. But yesterday they were flying really low, only just skimming the washing line and the orange trees. Mostly they are swifts and they are not called the 'acrobats of the sky' for nothing. They weave and dive, changing direction and swooping around, and this time they were flying lower than my head and actually passing right in front of my face. It always amazes me that they don't crash. There were also some young swallows with them, and other birds too. I sat with my camera snapping away, and hoping I would catch one or two of them. I was pleased with the results but because I couldn't chose any one photo to show you, I made a collage of some of the best shots. Just look at all the shapes they make.
We have had rain most days this week, but today the sun was back and the sky was still blue at the dogs tea-time, and the birds were back. This time they were mostly swooping over the orange grove next door.
I caught quite a few of them in this photo but you may need to click on the image to enlarge it, to see them properly.
This was one of my better shots.
I wasn't the only one watching them either. These two, Luna on the left, and Paco, were mesmerised by them. At first only Luna was there and she was leaping up to try to catch them, but of course, they were too fast for her, but it did make me laugh to watch her trying. They knew she wouldn't get them, and it didn't put them off at all to have an audience.
I also noticed that they had a friend flying around with them. We get lots of very small dragonflies on our pool in the summer, but they are long gone, and I haven't seen one as big as this in our area before. It ducked and dived with the birds, but they made no attempt to catch it. Perhaps they only wanted smaller fry. It was incredibly hard to get a photo of it, because it darted so quickly, but after several attempts I did manage to get this one.
And so to my sky photos for this week. These two were both taken tonight. The first one was early evening, just as the sun was setting.
This second was an hour or so later and as you can see, the storm clouds were gathering again. We have been quite happy to see the rain as it is so badly needed, but I am glad to see we are forecast to have sunshine again next week. The temperature is slightly lower which is fine too. We are down to the upper twenties, which is better than being in the thirties!
If you click on either of these photos you will be able to see the last of the birds flying back to their night-time roost in one of the nearby tees.
Finally a bit of news that is probably only relevant to my family. Some of you know that our second son Mike, has been laid out for nearly six week with a badly prolapsed disc in his spine. He had one operated for this about six years ago, but now the next disc up has gone. He is in a lot of pain and was looking forward to having the operation to shave this one yesterday. But he rang me from the hospital late morning, to tell me that he hadn't had the op. Apparently after he got to the theatre, the anesthetist found he couldn't inflate his left lung so it was too dangerous to roll him over to operate on his back. So they brought him round again, did a chest X-ray, and sent him home. He is now booked in provisionally to have it done on 1st November, so he has another month on strong pain-killers, and it will be Christmas time before he can get back to work. It's tough, but Mike, being who he is, was still smiling when he rang me. He hates being inactive, but he can only stand or walk for very short periods of time and is mostly lying flat. He has no idea what caused the lung problem, so let's hope it is sorted out so that the operation can go ahead next month.