My smile this week is a simple one - a pot of daffodils.
I know there have been many finer daffodils shown as smiles already, but to me these are special. In UK I lived in Shropshire, just four miles from the border with Wales, and in March/April, the roads were lined with nodding yellow daffodils, and I loved them. They were a sure sign that Spring was on the way. In general, where I live, more or less at sea level, it is too hot to grow them, and they are one of the few things I miss, so this year I again bought a few bulbs from Lidls and I planted them very late, at the end of November when it had really cooled down a lot. I have kept them damp, and in a shady spot where they rarely get full sunshine, and Hooray! I have some flowers for the first time! You can see some little tulips that I planted between them too, but at the minute they show no sign of flowering. Soon it will again be too hot for them, but I keep looking for some buds all the same. So these will be linked up at Annie´s Friday Smiles later.
The garden is looking lovely right now, and this morning I was happy to see that the first flowers on my squill were opening.
This is another plant that one might not expect to see out here, but a friend gave them to me a few years back, and for the last two years they have carried several heads of flowers. They are a really intense shade of blue, which also makes them quite unusual.
Another thing that made me really happy this week was that our pink jasmine burst into flower. As usual you can´t put a pin between the blooms, and their strong, heady perfume fills the house and wafts down the street.
It is an amazing plant which thrives on neglect! I rarely water it, and about every two to three years we cut it almost down to the ground, and the rest just happens!
The jasmine is a great conversation piece, and everyone who passes the house comments on it, because of its scent, and we have chatted to lots of folk about it, and given away countless cuttings. This week a very pleasant English couple stopped to talk, and it turns out they are moving into a house in this road on 1st May. We talked about houses, fiestas, flowers and jam making, so they will feel they have some people they know already when they move in.
I had some fun sorting through some strawberries this week. My jam last week was very successful, staying a nice bright red, and setting well, which can be a problem with strawberries. So this week I decided to make one more batch. The strawberries only have quite a short season here, and I have visitors coming out later this month so I wanted to get it made sooner rather than later. So I went to the market on Tuesday to see whether they had dropped in price yet, and although they were still the same as last week on most stalls, I did find one where they were considerable less, so I bought two boxes (2kg each). I thought perhaps they were a day or two old, so I used them quickly, but actually they were very fresh, and the only reason I could see for a lower price was that they were a bit misshapen.
Strawberries here are called fraises, but the very big ones grown near here are fresons. Thy all grow in the province of Huelva. A few are the true strawberry shape - almost a heart when cut through, but fresons tend to be wider. However, when I sorted through mine this week I found that many were divided at the base and I had to smile. This one looks like it is dancing:
While this one is like a small hand giving us a ´thumbs up´!
These two were the champions weighing in at a whopping 78 grams each! That means you only get around fourteen of them in a kilo.
They made me another twenty jars of jam anyway, so my store cupboard is now overflowing into boxes and crates in the garage.
This afternoon I cut up lots of vegetables and left them to salt over night, ready to make piccalili tomorrow, and I also bought all the ingredients to make some hot ginger and chili jam, so I will have a very pungent kitchen over the weekend.
I have another somewhat strange local tradition to tell you about this week. Yesterday was El Día de los Viejas. (The day of the old women!). I have searched the internet to find out more about this and this was what I discovered. "It was born as a day of brotherhood with religious connotations, as it was promoted by a community of Franciscans. The Church in those years was hard during Lent, as it wanted it to be as similar to the forty days and forty nights that Jesus was in the desert and to the hardness of those days. So the Franciscans proposed holding a day where there was not any fasting, but quite the opposite. A day of abundant food".(That is just as it was translated on google, so the grammar is a bit odd!)
So it is held on a Thursday in the middle of Lent and is celebrated by big family pic-nics and lots of traditional food such as tortillas, meats, beans and cakes.
In the days before the event families make their ´Old woman`which is based on a cross of wood or cane to which bags of sweets are tied. Then it is all covered with paper and coloured tissue to resemble an old woman in a scarf and apron. These are taken to the pic-nic and after the food is finished, the children throw stones at the women to break them open and get their sweets!!
We walked up to the big pic-nic area by our sports centre and there were lots of families there, using the barbecue stands, and tucking into a vast array of food that was spread on the tables. Others had spread blankets on the floor, and many other groups were sitting under the trees on the surrounding hillsides.
Here are some of the viejas that we saw. You will see that the odd old man has crept in too. There is no sexism here!
These ones were awaiting their fate, resting in the shade of a tree while the food was eaten.
This poor old lady already has a dent on her head. The stoning has begun!
The connection between the Viejas, and the breaking of the fast with a pic-nic remains a mystery to me. The only other thing I gleaned from the net is that ´sometimes the celebration is on the day of the waning moon of Spring`.
It was a lovely day yesterday. The sun was really hot, and people were glad of the shade provided by the pepper trees. I am sure half of the village at least were somewhere in the area enjoying their picnic, and there were probably a lot of hyper children that night, after all the candy that they had eaten! They do have some very strange traditions out here, but they are always such joyful occasions, and I love the way that we, as ´foreigners,´are made to feel so welcome at their celebrations.
Before we went home we walked around the sports centre to our friends house. The town hall have done a lot of landscaping work around the centre, and on the new mud slopes around the far side, there were lots of wild rosemary plants, and they even had a watering system in place, so hopefully they will thrive.
They seemed to be a type that will grow out and cover the ground, rather than the usual tree type. The bees were having a lovely time flitting from flower to flower. There are two bees in this photo. I wonder whether you can spot them.
We spent a pleasant hour sitting in their garden and chatting to our friends, and then we made our way back home.
I did manage to fit in a little bit of crafting during the week as well. I have the local art group exhibition coming up for Easter weekend, and I usually have a craft table at it with some of my jams and pickles, plus a bit of knitting etc. So this week I downloaded some cutting files from the Silhouette Cameo store, and made some cute little boxes to hold some Easter eggs etc. I was really pleased with how they turned out.
I was happy to find that I had won a craft challenge this week, with a butterfly card. My prize was my choice of digi stamps from a site I had not visited before, so I had a happy hour browsing their pages and making my choices. Now I have several new images to work with which will be fun over the coming weeks.
The skies have been mostly clear this week which means few lovely sunsets, but we did have one night when I spotted a pink sky outside my window and rushed out to take these.
Such pretty colours in this one, and soon it became pink all over and in the blink of an eye it was gone.
So now I will go and see what has made other folk smile over at Annie´s blog, A Stitch in Time, and also link up with Virginia at Celtic House. She is an amazing lady who has had a really tough week, but has still managed to find a long list of things to be grateful for. So if you have a minute or two to spare, pop over to visit her and leave some love. We all need that sometimes.