When we moved into this house, like Annie, we inherited some plants, many of which were quite unfamiliar to us. Among them was a lovely palm ´shrub´which I really like. Every couple of years it uncurls a new circle of fronds from the centre, and you can almost see them growing! But of course, eventually the outer round of fronds die, and they need to be cut off close to the stem, so gradually our shrub is turning into a small tree. It is in a pot, as are nearly all our plants, and it is beginning to be a bit top-heavy, and rather unstable, but we are loathe to try to repot it, as it is doing so well in the one it has now, plus it has some vicious thorns at the base of each frond! But now, whenever the high winds come it gets blown over, and it takes the two of us to right it again. It went over this week while I was out, so Chris left it until I got home to help him, and when we went to lift it, we found Paco had taken up residence. He wasn´t a bit impressed when we moved him on.
So here is my Smile for this week.
We are still having some unsettled weather, but it has been a bit better this week, and on the good days it has been up to 30º. (I´d be quite happy if it stayed there for the whole summer!). But I made good use of one of the cooler days by clearing out our garage. We don´t put the car in there, but it is a general storage room, and anything that doesn´t have a home, gets pushed in there, until we reach the point when it is dangerous to enter! It had just about got there, but now everything has been put away or stacked neatly and safely, and I have some clear floor space, and good access to my big floor-to-ceiling cupboards. It is very satisfying to feel you have actually achieved something by the end of the day.
As you know I am a member of Vera Photography club, and I am becoming more and more aware of the limitations of my bridge camera, though it is very good, and adequate for most of my needs. I am not in a position to rush out and buy an SLR camera, which I may or may not ever learn to use properly, but I have looked at one or two second hand ones. I have to admit I am a bit overwhelmed by all the technical details, so I talked to a man at the last club meeting who was very helpful, and gave me lots of good advice. He also very generously loaned me a camera to try, and gave up an hour of his time to briefly explain a bit about how it works. It was a very expensive piece of equipment and I was half scared to take it out, but I did go for a walk with it that afternoon. As it happened it turned out to not be a very good day for it, as the clouds rolled in and the lighting was quite poor. But I did take some photos and I was quite pleased with them.
The first set were all of the wild flowers that are blooming all over the campo right now. Everywhere is either shades of purple or yellow, or a mixture of the two.
This last one shows what our potato tree should look like! This was out on the campo so it had either been thrown over the wall by a gardener who no longer wanted it, or had grown from a seed dropped by a bird feeding on the berries. Sadly ours is a very poor specimen compared with this one.
I have not been very satisfied with my landscape photos, so I wanted to try to get more depth of field, so I took this one from the back of our house, and it is better than I usually achieve.
So then I went back to my own camera, and as I now understood a bit more about the manual settings, I had a play around changing the ISO, focal length and shutter speed, just to see what happened. Of all the shots I took, I liked this one. It is dark because it is underexposed, but I like the effect on the sky, and the general look of it.
I also had a go at some close up photos. I am not convinced the ones I took with the borrowed camera were any better than I take with my own on macro setting, but while I was out I did manage to capture this beautiful dragonfly, which kept landing on the ground ahead of me, and taking off again just before I got close enough to see what I was doing.
Then later in the garden I saw this very pretty moth, sitting on our baby citrus tree.
Finally I thought I would try taking photos of the animals, but you know the saying about never working with children or animals ..... They don´t co-operate! Eventually I managed this portrait of Miki, who was having another bad hair day! She looks her usual dopey self and very loveable with it.
Foxy was a bit more willing to pose and she just stares at the lens. Her blue, blue eyes make her very photogenic.
By this time Kim was bored with the whole affair and had wandered off to annoy Tango. He´d love to play but he has had sufficient encounters with Paco to know that cats have sharp claws, so he kept ducking his head to one side to keep out of range!
I had one last attempt to get them in the frame together, even getting involved myself, but Kim kept his distance even then, and Tango was keeping an eye on him, in case he came too much closer.
We have just brought them all indoors, because, today, the circus arrived in the village. They park their four or five huge lorries on the flat ground across the green zone, immediately behind our house. One of the trailers contains several large cats - usually two or three lions and a tiger. It makes me nervous that they just have their cage and the trailer side between them and us! It must be their feeding time because I can hear them roaring, and the dogs are barking like mad! I hate to think of these beautiful animals in cages all day, and then made to perform in the evenings, but it is still allowed out here, and they look healthy and well-cared for. I just wish they were still roaming in the wild, but it is a side of the Spanish culture that we have to accept, even though it goes against our better judgement. Fortunately they will only be there for a few days.
Last week I showed you the lovely lilies that my friend gave me. Well one by one the buds opened, every one of them, and they looked so beautiful. There was only just room for them in the jug.
Today the first one dropped its petals, and tonight a couple more have gone, but I have had them for almost two weeks so they have done really well.
I had another gift this week, though it was a bit less welcome. I suspect it was Luna who brought it in for me, as she is the huntress!
Yes it was another humbug lizard, and he was considerable bigger than she usually catches. As you can see, he has lost his tail. These are designed to come off easily, and in time he will grow a new one, but when they break off, they continue to swish around really strongly for quite a while, which is probably why Luna let go and ran off. When I found him on the floor he was still in shock, but very much alive, which is why I can hold him so easily. Once recovered, he will run much faster than I can move to catch him. However, I put him out on a sunny windowsill and he soon ran away. Then I found the missing tail on the floor and it was so long!
If that had still been attached to him, he really would have been quite a specimen, for here in the village. I expect they survive better, and grow larger out on the campo, but I have only seen quite tiny ones here, no longer than this tail from head to toe.
I did manage to crochet a nice firm border around the blanket that I showed you last week. It looks much better for that. Now I am working around another one - made from some more of the squares that people knit for me.
One day recently I must have left the door to my feezer ajar for a while, and there was a layer of ice over everything, so yesterday I decided to clean it all out. I like to go through everything in there occasionally anyway, just so things don´t get lost at the back of a drawer for ever. We are having a second month of ´living from the freezer´for May, something else I do from time to time to ensure a regular turnover of the contents. Because it was a lovely sunny day, I had to do one drawer at a time, and then leave it for while to make sure the temperature didn´t rise too much, so it took me nearly all day to do it. Surprisingly for me, I didn´t find very much that really needed to be thrown away, and now I have nice clean and tidy drawers, and an inventory of what´s in there! That´s going some for me. I was also pleased to find that nearly everything still had its label intact, which takes some of the guess work out of our meals in the weeks ahead. It´s not unknown for Chris to ask what are we having for dinner, only to be told, "I´ll tell you when it´s thawed"!
One thing that I did want to use up quickly was a small bag of raw peach slices. It is almost time for the peaches to be in the market again, and I don´t want any of last years left when they do. So I put them into my blender, still fairly frozen, added a few frozen blackberries from the end of a bag, and just a couple of big frozen strawberries. Then I added a small carton of apple juice and a very over-ripe banana, and blended it all together. The result was too thick to call it a drink, and just too thin to be a proper sorbet, but it was really delicious! I must remember to freeze some more this year, and try to use them up a bit quicker this time. Next time I´ll add a yoghurt instead of the juice and we should have a soft ice-cream.
Because today was a bank holiday in here in Spain, I knew the shops would be closed all day, so I did my food shopping on Wednesday instead. I happened to pop into Lidls and I bought a silicone mould for baking a flan case. I do like silicone bakeware, and I am gradually replacing most of my old metal pans. Nothing really sticks to it, and I thought I might make a better job of a sponge flan than I usually do. So this morning I mixed up a fatless sponge and baked it in the ring mould and it turned out really well. I made a simple cheese-cake style cream and added a thin layer to the sponge and topped it with strawberries. These would normally have ended their season by now, but there are still quite a few around, and probably because they have ripened a bit slower, they have a really good flavour now. I made a bit of a mess with the Quick gel glaze, but I wanted to get it done before we had our lunch, and it didn´t detract from the flan which tasted good!!
I haven´t spent all my week in the kitchen; I have managed to do some crafting. I have completed the card for my guest designer spot, but I can´t show it here as it doesn´t go live until Wednesday. But I also finished another page of my scrapbook about Ireland, and I can show that.
When I had finished sorting the freezer, and enjoyed my blended fruits, I came down to my room just in time to pick up a skype call from my youngest son Ben. We ended up chatting for two hours. Skype is wonderful!! Then after tea, my other son Tom, who lives in Denmark, also Skyped me and we chatted for two hours, so I had a lovely family catch-up day. The world is a smaller place with Skype.
A few people have been asking about my sky photos, and this week I did manage to catch a couple. One day, when there was just a few clouds around, they began to break up in the evening and as the sun went down they looked really pretty.
And last week, as I came out of choir practice, I did catch a soft sunset with my phone, and several of you left kind comments about that. Well this week, at the same time, there was another lovely sky. Again I only had my phone with me, but I still got quite a good photo of it. It turned into a really bright firery sunset, which I could see in my rear view mirror as I drove home, but I was on the motor way so I couldn´t stop to try for another shot. Maybe next week I will remember to take my camera to choir with me!
So I will leave you with that lovely sight, and go over to Annie´s Friday Smiles and Rocking Your World at Celtic House, to link this up, and I´ll see you all again next week.