Week 21. Honestly folks. In just five weeks time we will be half way through the year! What a strange thing time is.
But without more ado, lets move into my smile for this week, which is these four Happy Chappies.
You can´t help but smile at them can you?
Believe it or not, they were all made to the same pattern! They are just a small part of a consignment of knitting I bundled up this week for my Knit for Africa project. My courier friend Phil is off to UK on Saturday, so I asked him whether he could fit some knitting in for me and he said he had a full load this trip, but if I kept it in black bags that he could squeeze up on top of other things, he would probably manage. So I took four bags up to him yesterday, and hopefully they will be at Greenfields Africa depot early next week. I am so grateful to Phil for transporting our work for free. It is so generous of him, and makes the whole project possible.
First I sorted everything out and took some photos, before packing it into bags of types and sizes. For a start, there were thirty blankets. They covered our dining table in several layers. They pack best if I roll them up. Next there were one hundred (Yes, one hundred!) jumpers and cardigans. About two thirds of these were 0-6 month size, which is the size Brian has asked us to concentrate on now, but there were also quite a few larger ones as he used to take clothes up to age four years. He will, of course, find homes for these as well.
Then finally there was a selection of baby beanie hats, booties and mittens, and a dozen or so cotton babygros and vests that I bought in a sale when I was given a donation. People are so good to me, and they help in all sorts of ways, from knitting, to sewing squares into blankets, transporting our work and when they can´t do any of those, they donate left over wool and money, all of which has kept my little project running for nearly four years now. Sometimes I use the money to buy more wool, but mostly it goes as a donation with each consignment, towards shipping to Africa. The container that went out last Autumn cost Brian £7,000 to ship to Africa, so our donations are really important.
But this week hasn´t all been about knitting and crochet. Last Saturday was our second most important fiesta in the village - San Isidro day. The format for this is always the same. There is a mass in the church first, and then a small procession of people following a cart with an image of the Saint on it, walks through the streets and up to the sports ground. Here folk from the village congregate with extended family, to share food and chatter, while the children play on the equipment there. We usually go straight up to the picnic area, though we have done the walk first, a couple of times. The band plays so we hear them arriving, and this year I noticed that some of the smaller walkers had hitched a ride on the Saint´s cart!
The boys club usually play a football match, and there are drinks and music at the refreshment area. Then at around two o´clock a grand paella, that has been cooking all morning, is ready to serve. Anyone can join the queue for a generous portion, at no cost!
San Isidro is the patron saint of the agricultural workers and the fishermen, so his cart is decorated very simply with hay and straw bales, and baskets of fruit and bread, and the paella is well laced with meat, fish and huge gambas or prawns, and decorated with a basket cut from fruit, or a flower arrangement. Half of it was gone by the time we went across for our plateful, but you can see how good it looked, and it tasted good too!
There were rather fewer people around this year. Whether the austerity is taking away the desire to party, or whether a lot more people have to take what work they can get, which may mean days off are harder to get, I don´t know, but there was still a good crowd enjoying the sun shine, and one another´s company.
It is very much a Spanish tradition, so there are not too many English folk there, but we met up with a couple who only moved to the village last month, and we spent a relaxed couple of hours getting to know them better.
During the afternoon, everyone gradually packs the picnics and chairs away and heads home for a siesta. Then, at around 11 o´clock at night, there is music and dancing in our street. We walked up and joined in for a while. There are tables and chairs put out in the road, and lights and flags strung down between the street lights. At the far end there is a well lit stage where usually a couple of groups take turns to sing and dance, while the village folk dance in front of them.
We sat and watched for a couple of hours, but then we were happy enough to wander home to bed. The music continued until about seven the next morning, but fortunately our bedroom window faces down the road, away from the stage, so it didn´t disturb our sleep!
Last year, for the first time since we came here, the San Isidro fiesta was spoiled by bad weather. It was not only grey and damp, but very cold as well. But this year it was a beautiful day, with just enough breeze to stop us feeling too hot. But it hasn´t been so good every day. We have had some rain, quite heavy at times, and I am grateful that the temperature has dropped several degrees. It is just how I like it now. Warm enough to go around in just a sleeveless dress, but not so hot that it drains all your energy.
One of the things that I am not so keen on at this time of year, is the way two of my cats hound the poor little baby birds. Luna is very good at catching them, and she and Paco just play with them until they get bored and wander off. She also has the habit of bringing them into the house, where her gifts are not too well received. But when she has gone back out , quite often I find her victims are unharmed. Twice this week I have found baby sparrows hopping around the floor, a bit shocked, but otherwise none the worse for their ordeal. I managed to catch them, and check them over, and then I take them out to the green zone and throw them as far as I can. They are fully fledged, and I find that if I throw them, they automatically start to fly, and end up in the top of a tree, rather than on the floor, where the cats can get them again.
I know the cats are only doing what come naturally to them, and I should just accept it as the order of things, but if the little birds are still alive, I have to help them escape if I can.
It is a well accepted fact that having your hair done etc is supposed to be a treat, and make you feel good, but I hate going to the hair-dresser, and put it off for as long as I can. But today I decided that I couldn´t put it off any longer, so I went round to the little Spanish girl I always go to, and made an appointment for what I thought was 6.30 this evening. However, when I got there I found it was actually 7.30, so I had an hour to waste. (My mistake of course. Vanessa speaks no English, and I often have difficulty hearing the difference between six and seven in Spanish, though I thought I had repeated it back to her to make sure I had it right!). Anyway, I could have gone home which was just five minutes walk away, but instead I thought I would "Dar un paseo", the term the locals use for taking a walk. They are great believers in walking, and I passed several folk along the way who said, "Holá. Un Paseo?", and nodded approvingly when I said "Si". I walked over to the urbanisation across the road from the village, where there is a nice little lake with quite a colony of ducks and geese on it. I got back just in time for my 7.30 appointment so I am happy to say I now have short, tidy hair again ! And even happier that instead of our usual session in silence, because Vanessa panics if I try to talk to her, we actually managed a short but reasonable conversation, when I told her about my walk! And she did understand me - so it is all good, and another tiny step of progress.
One of the beautiful things I saw as I walked, that I have been meaning to get a picture of all week, is the jacaranda trees in flower. There is a string of them all along the front of the village, and they always all flower together, and for a short while they are gorgeous.
They have very little leaf until the flowers have gone, but when it comes, it is hands of tiny airy leaves that still make for very pretty trees, and the flowers themselves are lovely. The big brown circles you can see are the seed pods from last years flowers.
I am very grateful to have my car back. It needed several parts and we had to wait until they were available, but on Tuesday we had a call to say it was ready to collect. A friend who lives just outside the village, is an excellent car mechanic, and he has always looked after our car for us, and does a good job when it needs attention, so hopefully it is fit to go for some time now.
We were very grateful when we drove over to Vera medical centre to make an appointment for Chris´X-rays, that he has to have done before his twice yearly hospital check-up, and the receptionist said he could wait and have it done straight away. That saved us another journey, and set his mind at rest that he is ready for the hospital. So then we drove on down to the coast and had a lovely lunch at a new café/restaurant down on Mojacar Playa. It is run by a lady who we know, so we wanted to try it out, and we were very happy with what we had there, as well as the pleasant surroundings.
There were no pretty skies this week, and I certainly wasn´t expecting one on Tuesday night when heavy rain was forecast. But after a grey day, the sun did break through for a while in the afternoon, and then the storm clouds started to gather. The two fought it out for a while until the storm clouds eventually won, and the rain came.
So, now I will link this over at Annie´s Friday Smiles, and Virginia´s blog at Celtic House. Bye until next week.