My smile this week is another garden one. I am smiling because my Stepelia Gigantica decided to open up for our visitor to see this week.
It really is an extraordinary plant, with short, red-green, succulent leaves, but the flowers are at least six inches across. They are a greeny yellow in colour with a mass of fine red veins, and a dark red centre. The petals are edged with fine white hairs.
They grow very low to the ground and always remind me of films I've seen of starfish moving over the sand. I've never got down low enough to smell one, but I believe their scent is like rotting meat, and their main aim is to attract the flies, which they are very good at!
In just a few days, their buds grow from being almost too small to see, to a large bulbous shape. We noticed this one was splitting and it almost opened up while we watched it.
But when it did open right up, it was an anomaly as it only had four petals instead of the normal five!
But apart from that it has been a busy week. Our friend Jenny arrived while I was finishing my post last week. Although we haven't had perfect weather, it was warmer than UK, with enough sunshine for us to get out and enjoy ourselves.
She was tired on Saturday so we did a quick supermarket shop, as she wanted to see what we can buy, and then sat around in the garden, chatting.
On Sunday morning I went to church as usual, but after lunch we drove down to Mojacar Playa. It was heaving as usual!...
Holiday season for the Spanish is well and truly over, and the few folk who were around, were mostly having a late lunch in one of the beach restaurants. We went for a long walk along the water's edge, and of course we had to have a paddle too. The water was really warm still. Until Jenny took this photo of us, we hadn't realised that Chris and I were colour co-ordinated.
We went up to the road to find a drink, and as we walked back to the car, we had to stop to look at the date palms which are dripping with fruit this year.
Monday was overcast and we were happy to sit around relaxing, but in the afternoon we decided to walk the dogs over the campo. Jenny had not met Kim before but he was soon very attached to her. But on the campo they all ran off to look for rabbits and tortoise, and Chris went ahead to keep an eye on them. Jenny I strolled along behind, enjoying the plants and flowers that we saw.
On Tuesday I was committed to attending a meeting at a friend's house, so the others dropped me off and went off to look around, and they came and collected me again at 1.30. Then we drove down to our favourite restaurant, La frontera, at Esparto del Pozo, near San Juan. That is the little place right on the seafront that I have showed many times before. We always get a good meal and excellent service there, and this was no exception. It was quite blowy along the beach and the palms were bending, and the empty bottles on the table across from us were having trouble staying upright. Fortunately the umbrellas are well anchored, but they were still getting tossed about.
But after lunch we drove a bit further to the proper San Juan beach and it was much calmer there. We sat on the beach, and had a lovely swim in the sea. It wasn't at all cold either. Then we drove home and Chris and Jenny decided to get in the pool and cool down after the afternoon in the sun. I busied myself preparing our tea, but then I did sit for a while with my feet in the pool. It wasn't cold enough to be uncomfortable, but it was a good deal colder than the sea.
On Wednesday I woke up earlier than usual, and was just in time to catch a beautiful sunrise.
That made me hopeful for another nice day, and it did get quite sunny in the end. I popped into my Wednesday sewing group for a little while to support their Macmillan 'coffee and cake' morning, but I didn't stay as long as usual. It was sunny enough for us to eat some lunch outside, but I had to go out again late afternoon for Choir practice. Chris and Jenny came with me, and said they really enjoyed hearing our Christmas songs that we are learning. After the practice we went to the Chinese restaurant next door, and had a really lovely meal.
So then it was Thursday and Jenny's last full day, so although it was cloudy with the threat of rain, we wanted to do something, and I am delighted to say we fulfilled one of my ambitions to climb the hill in Vera and take a selfie with Jesus! This is the hill... Ever since we first came here, I have wanted to climb up to this statue, but on previous attempts I could not find the way, and kept getting so far, only to be stopped by a fence, or pile of rocks.
But someone had told me where the entrance was, so this time we were successful. The hill marks the centre of a big earthquake over 500 years ago, which completely destroyed the town of Vera. It has now be rebuilt some distance away, and the statue watches over it
It was quite a climb, but most of the way was roughly hewn steps - around 200 of them with stretches of sloping gravel every now and then.
It is one of those places where it is actually easier going up than it was coming down!
On the way up we stopped to read about the ruined hermitage, dating from 1428.
This arch marks the entrance to the original town.
The views were magnificent, so here are just a few that I took.
I love this one!
Light and shadow on the hills with a small part of Vera town in the foreground.
Lovely neat rows of orange trees in one of the commercial fruit centres.
Up at the top, the air was filled with little birds that swooped right past us. I spent ages trying to get several of them in one picture. This was the best I managed.
That just leaves the little question of my selfie! I had not appreciated how difficult is to take one when you also want something else in the picture, and that something is several feet above your head! So here is my feeble effort. As you can see, Jenny managed to photo-bomb me, but as she is also struggling to take one, I decided to leave it at that. At least I got up there. I was beginning to think I never would.
One thing that was encouraging to see as we went up, was the chumba, or prickly pear. Last summer we had a plague of white flies. They were so tiny that they could get though the mosquito nets on the windows, and they covered everything. If you swatted them, they left a bright pink stain, as apparently they are related to the cochineal beetle. They settled on the chumba leaves and sucked them dry and it was almost wiped out around here. This year the flies came again but nothing like so many of them, and after the few days of rain we have had, it was good to see new growth on all the dead looking chumba plants. Nature is pretty amazing really isn't it?
From our back fence we look out over the green zone, a valley of rough ground with some untended fruit trees on it. Because it is a green zone, it will never be built on. Jenny spotted some bright red on a tree down there and was very excited when I told her it was pomegranets, so on Wednesday afternoon we went 'scrumping', and came home with a dozen ripe fruit. Caught in the act! There were already lots of over-ripe fruit on the ground, so I am sure no-one minded us picking some.
Chris stayed at home, but when the dogs spotted us through the railings they set up an awful racket, so he came out to quieten them down.
We had intended to go to a local bar that evening, but we were tired, and then there was a big thunder storm, that settled down into steady rain, so we stayed at home and made a big jug of sangria instead.
Jenny was leaving this evening, but she wanted to do a little bit of shopping this morning, so we drove to Mojacar Pueblo, the little white village on the hill above Mojacar Playa. With her shopping done we then went down to the playa to find some lunch. We ate too much and decided to walk along the sea-front to walk it down a bit. It was cooler than it has been but there was still plenty of sun shining on the water, and a stiff on-shore breeze to make some waves.
It is beautiful down there on a day like this.
Soon it was time to heads for home and I made a cup of tea while Jenny popped the last few bits into her case. Now she is safely on her way home, and Chris is back here, so it is time to start preparing for three more visitors who arrive on Monday. It will be a lovely week of family fun and I am really looking forward to it.
I can say with certainty that I will not be posting next Friday so I will either do an early one on Thursday or catch-up on Saturday. But if I don't make it at all, I'll be back the following week for sure.
So I'll link up with Annie's Friday Smiles, and Rocking Your World , and leave you with this week's sunset photo, that I took earlier in the week. It's a bit dark and stormy looking because that's how it has been by tea-time most days. But I don't mind that, if the sun has been out all day.