Friday, February 27, 2015

Rocking Your World 2015. Week 9

Well I am afraid week 8 passed me by, and here is the reason.
Yes, my son Ben was here on a visit. He is my baby and it is always a pleasure to have him here, so this photo is also my smile for the week, and I will be linking it up with Annie´s blog for her Friday Smile, in a minute.
Ben, and his partner Dave, had already spent a few days in their ´Happy place´in Benidorm, and then they caught a bus from there to Vera town - just five minutes from here, so it was all very easy for them. We went to pick them up on Wednesday, and unfortunately for them we were in the middle of a few days of rain and wind. The Levante winds were blowing, gusting up to 70kmh, so it wasn´t very nice for them. But at least they were able to make themselves comfortable and warm in the house, and we had a couple of days catching up with each others news, eating and  drinking, and just relaxing together.

We ventured out for a couple of evenings, doing the quiz at our local bar on Thursday, (team Perry didn´t win but we weren´t last either!), and on Friday having at excellent meal at that same bar, and then moving on to another one further down through the village to attend a charity event. It was primarily a Spanish evening, but there were quite a few English there as well. They were raising money for a local little girl called Gema who has cerebral palsy. You may remember a couple of years back, I worked with the Vera Lions Club to help raise the money to buy her a walking frame so she could move independently at school. Well now she needs to go to Seville for a month of intensive therapy, so a small flat has been rented for her and her mother, and after Friday night´s event, they have all the money they need for this trip, for this year. She will need to go for a month each year, but at least this year is all sorted. 
There was a big raffle, and some items were auctioned. They raised over 1,000 € on Friday which is pretty good for one night. There was a Spanish singer to entertain us, and when he wanted a break from singing he did a
short spell of karaoke. Of course Ben had to have a go, but it turned out the book was mostly Spanish songs, and from the one page of English ones, there were only a couple that he knew. So he ended up belting out Bohemian Rhapsody which is a bit out of his range, but everyone seemed to enjoy it.
On Saturday morning we had to take Dave back to the bus station for his bus to Alicante, as he had to get home for work on Monday, but Ben stayed with us until early Thursday morning.
Fortunately the sun came out and it got much warmer, so he grilled himself on a lounger and went home with a very pink tummy! We managed to fit in a trip around the market, and a walk along the beach, but really this was a holiday for relaxing and doing very little.
Sunday was Ben´s birthday, and it was nice to be able to celebrate with him this year. He was twenty -eight but he will always be my baby!He was born in my fortieth year (yes I can hear you all doing the arithmetic!), and was our ´added blessing´after we thought our family was complete. As I knew he would be here for his birthday I made a picture for him with an inked background, and a picture and words cut from vinyl. It is to go on the wall of his music room in his new house.
We also gave him the counted cross stitch picture that I finished a few weeks ago, and had managed to get framed for him. I have shown that one on here already, so I won´t say any more, except that you can read more about both pieces on my other blog, here.
Ben loved them both, especially the cross stitch one, and can´t wait to get them hung in his room.
Saturday was also Carnival day in the village, and we were so pleased that the rain had stopped and it was fairly sunny, if still a bit cold, for the parade at tea-time. Carnival is just a day when anyone and everyone can dress up as foolishly as they want to, and it is always a fun day, where everyone is happy and just enjoying themselves. Here´s what one of the bands looked like.

I will post the rest of the carnival photos at the end of this blog.
That night we had a nice sunset because the sun had broken through but there were also still plenty of storm clouds around.
I rather liked this photo when the rays of the setting sun landed on the Cabrera mountains below the village, turning them a lovely rosy pink.
Sunday dawned very windy and cold again, but it was still bright and sunny. We had stayed up late the night before so we could have Ben´s birthday after midnight, so I left him and his dad still sleeping and I went off to the new church I now attend. From there you can see right across the rambla to the mountains beyond, and they had a fresh layer of snow on the tops of them.
I always think the snow looks lovely when there are blue skies and sunshine as well.
After a fairly quiet week, we decided to end his holiday on a high, so we had a party/evening of music at our house for his last day. One of our friends brought her piano over for Ben, so he could play and sing for us. My friend Eileen also sang a few songs and Sue played some piano for us. 
There were several members of our choir there and we tried to join in on a few songs but we kept forgetting the words! But it was fun anyway. There were about thirty people all squeezed into our house, so it was a bit like playing sardines and musical chairs rolled into one! 
I made four different kinds of soup and several desserts, and our friends mostly brought plates of savouries and cakes, so no-one went home hungry. 
I had invited my Spanish friend Cati and her daughter Maria who loves music. She likes to sing, so Ben managed to get the karaoke screen up on our TV, and he and Eileen helped her to sing Mama Mia, which made her so happy, she was smiling all night after that.
Ben and I had worked out a list of songs that he could play without the music or the chance to practice them (I didn´t give him any warning and he has no piano here to practice on!). I was in charge of the list, and Bless him, he did manage to do almost all of them during the evening.
Ben writes a lot of his own songs, but he also does some very good cover versions. There are a few on youtube, but mostly now he uploads them to Soundcloud. I am not sure whether I can share them with you from there, but I will put a link for one here, and perhaps you can tell me whether you can listen to it. Then I´ll know for another time. It is one he wrote and it is very sad, but it touched me, and now he always sings it for me. Here he is doing what he does best.
For various reasons we started the party at 4.30 in the afternoon, so it was expected to end fairly early, and most of the guests had left by nine. But our friends from the village, Tony and Eileen, stayed on. Sue had taken her piano home by then as she needed it for the next morning, but Ben used his phone to cast various karaoke tracks onto the TV and he and Eileen took it in turn to sing. Tony used to be the sound man for several bands, and he had supplied Ben with a microphone and amp so they were quite happy to just keep going. Chris and I joined in with the ones we knew, and we went on until midnight! So it was a long session in the end. That is the way most Perry functions end, but back in UK we used to go on until nearly the next day! I sent the men off to bed while I put any perishable food away,(there wasn´t all that much left in the end), and I filled the dishwasher and put that on, and was soon tucked up myself.
This was just as well as we had to up in the morning, ready to leave the house by 7.00, because Ben had a train to catch from Lorca. He is now in Barcelona, where my grandson and some friends have met up with him, and they are going to have a fun weekend together before getting home for work next week. So he has made the most of his time out here.
Just one other little thing that made me happy this week was when the door bell rang and the post lady was there with a big box for me. Inside was some wool I had ordered online a while ago. We don´t have a lot of choice for wool out here, and I wanted something different to keep my interest going when I am doing knitting for my babies in Africa. This one had caught my eye, and I have to say I am really pleased with it. I have started a multi-coloured blanket and it is working up really well. I´ll be showing you when I have done a bit more.
So I have had a lovely couple of weeks, and the best bit has been sharing it with son number five!
Now I will link up with Annie at A Stitch in time, and Virginia at Rocking my World, and then I will add all the other photos of the characters in the carnival parade.
Thank you for staying with me to the end of this two week issue. I will see you again next week.

They didn´t really need captions did they? I´ll leave it up to you to decide what they all are!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Rocking Your World 2015; Week 7

Hello again my friends. I am starting off this week with a very positive smile, because as I drove out this week, I noticed that suddenly all the almond trees had burst into blossom. The very first ones had all their flowers blown away in a day, but those horrid high winds have died down now, and the trees are looking so pretty. It is a certain sign that Spring is on the way.
I shall link this up at Annie´s Friday Smiles when I have finished this post.
Last week I mentioned that we had unusually bad weather forecast, so did we get that promised snow? Well, not really. It wasn´t far away, but it didn´t quite get down to us. When we woke up on Sunday morning there was a powdering of snow on the top of the Cabreras - the mountains we can see from our front gate - but I am happy to say, that is as close as it got! 
We were grateful for this as a friend was celebrating her birthday, and a mutual friend had organised a surprise party for her at home, and we were all going round there straight after our morning church service. Fortunately, by the time we got there the sun had come out, and it soon began to feel a lot warmer. There were about fifty people there, and had it been too cold and wet, we would have been like sardines in her smallish villa. As it was, some folk made themselves comfortable in the conservatory;
Others gathered in groups out in the garden.
Some of the men congregated under the pergola to dissect the day before´s football and rugby matches!
I crept inside to have a quiet chat with some lovely friends, but someone spotted us. No-one was safe from the cameras that afternoon.
We had all contributed to the food, so the table was well-laden with good things. Out in the kitchen there were big pans of curry, meatballs, Spaghetti bolognaise etc, and on the table opposite this one there were lots of beautiful desserts.
When the guest of honour arrived she was truly surprised. Even her daughter, standing on the chair behind her to take photos of all of us, had not given the game away, and we had not told her husband because they are both from Colombia, and sometimes things get lost in translation, so we couldn´t be sure he wouldn´t tell her!
We all had a grand time. I think this may have had something to do with it, but I hope it was really good company and good food!
That isnt actually my photo, though I did take one like it just as we were leaving, late afternoon, as we needed to get home to feed the dogs. But when the host posted this one on facebook the next day, a few more bottles had joined the line! I am not sure whether he had lost the ability to make them form a straight line by then, or just wanted a more artistic arrangement!
I only have two sky photos for you this week and I am posting them now as I have another set to end with this time. I am very grateful to those of you who follow me, however much I ramble on, who leave kind comments, and who humour me with all my ´faces´that I see everywhere. So no apologies for sharing this one. Isn´t it just a perfect ´froggy-face´with the little wide-set eyes, and huge mouth?
I am not even going to suggest anything in this one, though I can see all sorts of things in it. I just liked the way the clouds suddenly parted and light from the furnace behind it, burst out in the rays you can see, like a good-night kiss just before it got dark.
With an improvement in the weather our thoughts are turning to what needs doing in the garden. I was at Turre market this morning and I stopped at a stall selling shrubs. They had a nice, healthy looking bottle-brush bush, and as ours is well past its best, I rang Chris and he said to go ahead and buy it. While I was dealing with that I noticed another baby tree with a very different fruit on it. I talked to the girl about it and she was very helpful so I ended up buying that as well. I like things that are a bit different.
It is called a Hand of Buddha Citron. It had one fruit underneath it that had probably fallen off in transit. Funny looking thing isn´t it?
You can see where it gets its name, with all those fingers. They had a second one which had a ripe fruit on it, but I chose this one because it was a better shape, and it has plenty of tiny fruit forming and some flowers. When it is ripe it looks like this. (Photo taken from the internet). I looked it up on the net and apparently the zest can be grated for cooking and is a better flavour than lemon, though it smells like a lemon. Inside there is only pith, and no pulp or seeds, but once the bitter peel is removed, the pith can be chopped and added to salads etc. It also said that many people just take the ripe fruit indoors to act as an air freshener. So I am looking forward to watching it grow. I gather it is sensitive to frost and to too high temperatures, so I will need to take care of it. I dare say some of my American friends will recognise it, as it said on the net that it grows well in S. Carolina, but it was new to me.

So while we are in the garden, here are a couple more photos. This is the window box we planted up back in the Autumn. Isn´t it doing well? I needed something to fill the centre area so I pushed in a couple of stems of a trailing succulent that is growing in another pot, and they have really taken off, and are about to flower.

This is a different succulent that used to grow on the beach where we had our rented flat when we first moved out here. When we bought the villa I pulled off a few stems to bring with me, and it is still surviving. We have had a couple of very wet days this week and I love the way this little plant catches the raindrops in each rosette, and just holds it for ages.

While walking across the village today I stopped to take a picture of these. I think they are part of the chrysanthemum family and they grow like weeds around here. As you drive around, you see whole fields of them, and they inhabit every patch of rough, common ground. They are all this very bright yellow, and they make lovely patches of bright colour wherever they grow.- I have even tried cutting them and having them indoors, and they lasted much longer than most cut flowers do.
I am grateful that I have a house where I can be warm and dry while the weather is not as warm as we like! There are so many homeless folk around, and others who cannot afford to buy both food and gas for heating. It is good to reflect on our blessings in these difficult times. 
I am happy that our son has arrived in Spain for a few days with his partner.They are in Benidorm, and then they will be with us on Wednesday.
I am grateful to my group of friends as we continue to support one another as we deal with some issues.
I am very grateful that my internet problems are improving. Things are not perfect, but hopefully I can post this successfully tonight, and manage to visit a few other folk as well, to do some commenting.
I am grateful that I have managed to fit in some crafting time as I probably won´t get much done while our son is here.
And finally I had a wonderful day out on Wednesday, organised by the Lions Club in Vera, but opened to anyone from our sewing group who wanted to go along. We went to Lorca, about forty minutes away by coach, to visit Los Museos de Bordados, Paso azul y Paso blanco. In other words, the Blue museum and the White museum where they sew and display the wonderful cloaks and banners used in the big fiestas of the town of Lorca. Their main fiesta is at Easter, and it involves the Romans, the Egyptians and the Christians. 

The coach took as close to the Blue Museum as he could get, and then we walked. I have not been into the centre of the town before and it was a wonderful mix of old and new. There were still many buildings, and ruins, just held together by steel girders.

These are a legacy from the big earthquake there about four years ago. But not all the buildings are in this condition. Right alongside them there were some modern blocks as well, which had been renovated or even rebuilt very recently. 

The oldest buildings suffered the most damage because they had solid stone walls so they didn´t have the ability to absorb any of the shockwaves. But I was glad to see some of the ancient acrchitechture had survived. Many of the older buildings had wonderful doorways, with no cracks in them. I particularly liked this one with its curly pillars and ornately carved side panels.

I also loved these lamp-posts. I would have preferred one without a banner on it, but they all had one!
When we arrived at the blue museum we were greeted by this fellow at the door.
As you entered you were struck by the mellow yellow and lilac light that was filtering down from these lovely windows. (Note the beautiful blue glass ball on the corner banister rail. There was one of these at every turn of the stairs. I´d like one of them!)
Then as our eyes adjusted to the light we began to see all the wonderful cloaks displayed behind glass on each wall. They are huge and must be so heavy to wear. Of course many of them are ´worn´by the statues of the saints, and I don´t suppose they mind how heavy they are, but most are worn by people. Their Easter processions last for six days and thousands of people take part in them. Each banner or robe costs many thousands of euros to make, and some are very ancient, but they make three or four new ones each year, as well as repairing any that are worn or damaged. This one is a copy of an ancient mosaic in Pompeii, and it has been stitched in tiny squares to represent the tiles.
In the blue museum we were allowed to go into the sewing room but we could not take any photos in there, because their designs are a closely guarded secret. It was a narrow room with bright strip-lights all along the ceiling. There were four articles being worked on and each was stretched onto a frame like a huge trampoline. The girls sat along the edge with one hand above the table and one underneath, stitching freehand. They were working on velvet but the design was very loosely sketched on some thin white fabric which overlaid the velvet and they stitched through this, then cut away the excess white around their stitching when it was done. Imagine cutting just one thread when you are doing that! To acheive the shading they had a box of mixed silk threads beside them and kept referring to a painting of the design, on an easle, right over on the other side of the table! The girls we watched were stitching a man bent over and there was so much light and shade on his body to get right! They stitched amazing faces too with so much expression in them.
Some areas were padded and over stitched, and then
they were embroidered over this with gold thread. In order to finish these projects in time for the processions this Easter, the girls were working in three teams doing eight hour shifts around the clock! The thought of doing such intense work for eight hours is beyond me. I was filled with admiration for them, but how proud they must feel when their see their work being worn at the fiesta.

We moved on to the White museum which was filled with huge glass display areas with the most beautiful cloaks and banners arranged in them. Leading off to the side there was a gate which opened into an ancient church. This was undergoing extensive renovation work, but we could still go in to have a look. Although I am not keen on all the gold and symbolism within the older catholic churches, as simply a major work of art, you can´t help but be overwhelmed and appreciative.

Our trip ended with a lovely menu del día at the restaurant next door, then back to the coach for a short drive to the new shopping mall on the edge of the town where we had an hour for a quick bit of retail therapy, before climbing aboard again for the journey home. I was so tired that evening, but it had been a lovely day.
I will call that the end of this post (Thank goodness I hear you say!), and I will link up with Virginia at Celtic House. But now I will just upload several photos of the wonderful displays we saw there for anyone who is interested. I don´t think many of them need any explanation, but if they do I´ll keep it brief!

The door-keeper at the White Museum.

This one was worn by ´King Solomon´in the processions.
The flying eagle holding a rosary in its talons, cropped up in lots of places and seemed to be an important image.

 A close up of the jeweled mandala on the cloak in the photo above.

Representing the Greek God Poseidon
This was one of the most beautiful mantles. All the gold background is stitched.

 I loved the colours in this one.
 The Grim Reaper?

Thank you for being so patient. I hope you enjoyed travelling through these museums with me. See you all next week.