Saturday, May 30, 2015

Rocking your world 2015; Week 22

Hi everyone. I am a little late getting started tonight as it has been a very busy day, but I thought I would still try to write my post before I fall into bed.
My smile this week is a couple of photos of our animals. Most of the time the cats and the dogs get along together fine. My lovely Tango (the long-haired ginger cat) is so laid back and non aggressive that the dogs just think he is no fun, and they mostly ignore him. If they approach him, he just holds his ground and stares at them and they back off. Luna keeps out of their way, but Paco has swiped their noses with his claws enough times for them to know it is best to leave him alone. If he is sitting still they will walk past him, but if he runs then he is fair game for a chase, which he always wins! But in this photo, he decided to approach Kim who for once didn´t back off, and it actually looks as though it is Paco who is having second thoughts. 

In the second photo, Foxy has taken up her regular position with her nose under the back gate, so she can watch me hanging out the washing. Paco, recognising that there is a safety barrier between them, is sitting there taunting her. It was Foxy who looked away first! The animals are just as much fun to watch as the children were when they were small. It is a constant battle for supremacy, and the pecking order constantly changes. I love to watch them interacting with one another.

And before I move on from our furry family, here is Luna, enjoying a rare moment in the sun, in our garden. Usually she disappears out the door when I get up in the morning and open it for her, and she goes down into the green zone to hunt lizards etc, or into next door´s orange grove to catch baby birds, and we don´t see her again until tea-time. She is a natural ´campo cat´. She must rest in the dry grass etc, but it is not very often that she lays around so close to home.

It has been a funny week in some ways, but a good one too. I did say the other week, that I would show you a better photo of my Strelitzia Nicolai, and it has really turned into an amazing plant this year. It is a fraction of the size it would be if it was planted in the ground, because being in a pot restricts its growth, but where it normally sends out one or two flowers, this year it has sixteen out, all at the same time. As each flower opens, another one grows out of the top of it, and then another out of that, and there are still more to come. Now it is fully open you can clearly see the lovely pale blue tongue of each flower.

I started this week with a gift from one of my friends at church. On Sunday she brought me a whole box of ripe nectarines from her tree. She has so many of them this year, and once they start to ripen, they go very fast. Even by the next day, some of these had started to discolour at the ends, but on Monday morning I washed them well, trimmed them up as necessary, and made some nectarine jam. It is not one I would normally make, so I didn´t know how easily it would set, but I had no trouble with setting it at all. My friend said she peels her for jam, but the skins were very soft and thin so I left most of them on and they turned the jam a very pretty shade of pink. 

I am a little disorientated this week as Chris is over in UK for his brother-in-law´s funeral, which was today. It was hard to get last minute flights, and it being a bank holiday at the start of the week didn´t help. In the end he had to go on Wednesday morning and he will be back next Monday morning. So I had to make an early start on Wednesday so I could drive him to Murcia airport for 8.00. It is about a ninety minute drive but we have to allow a bit extra just in case...
He actually drove on the way, so I took my camera in case there was a nice sunrise. It wasn´t spectacular, but the sky turned a lovely golden colour as the sun broke above the low line of clouds.
At the same time as it rose higher, a new bank of cloud also appeared from nowhere, but the occasional break in these gave me several images like this lovely one. (Not bad seeing as it was taken from a moving car).
We got to the airport in good time and I drove home using the toll road because it is very straightforward, and the quickest route. It was worth paying the fee to have such an easy drive home. I doubt I saw more than three cars the whole way! I went straight on to my usual sewing group, but I left a little early so I could pop home to see the dogs before I went back out for my house group and then choir practice. They are not used to being left alone for so long, and by the time I got home that night it was two hours passed their tea-time and they were wondering whether they were going to get fed!
I was very happy at choir practice to get my one to one audition out of the way, and even happier that I passed it!

It was good that Chris managed to Skype me last night. We weren´t sure he would get the right signal, but we had a good connection.

As I would have been on my own today, I accepted the suggestion of a friend to join her on a coach trip, and we had a lovely day. First we went up to Lake Negratin, near Baza, one of my favourite places for a day out. This is not a well composed picture, but I have included it because it shows what a very beautiful, and tranquil place this is.
We had such a laugh on the way. The top end of the lake, where we were heading, is approached along a narrow sandy road, and half way along it there was big JCB parked right across the roadway, digging in the ditch that ran at right angles to it. The coach went right up to it, and just as he put on his brakes, one of the men stepped up and held up a ´Stop´sign. It was so utterly superfluous that we all burst out laughing, and the man joined in.
We had to just sit there and wait while he finished digging out his ditch. (It was designed to carry the agricultural water, and had got blocked after the rains!) The man in the red shirt is our driver who decide to munch on his breakfast buttie while he had a chat with the work men. Only in Spain...! Eventually he was done and moved out of the way so we could continue.
We drove on up to the spa pool which you can see here, several feet below us. It is actually a long, narrow channel of water which continues right through the covered area to the end. It is constantly fed by natural hot water springs, so it is beautifully warm all year round. 
Above it, there is a very pleasant bar/restaurant, with two layers of verandahs all around it, and most of the party went there for a coffee first. My friend and I settled her mum with a drink, and then we went down for a swim before it got to crowded. There were only a few of us to begin with so we managed to swim up and down a few times, and them we just relaxed in the water and chatted to others who had joined us by then. When we like a pair of wrinkly prunes we got out and went up for a nice cup of tea. Then we sat out with friends and just enjoyed the sunshine, the beautiful scenery and some gentle chitchat with everyone else. The lake was in front of us, and to the side was a high mountain covered in pine trees which made it look very green.
There was a narrow flower bed around where we were sitting, and at intervals along it there were beautiful hollyhocks. I loved these dark red ones.
These very pretty flowers were growing along the banks and the road side, and someone picked a few so we could get a better look at them. These were beginning to wilt by the time I took the photo but you can still see their delicate white petals, and the mass of fine lilac stamens.
I have seen these growing in the rambla around our village and they reminded me of very large rock-roses, but what I didn´t know was that, before they have opened, the tiny, tight buds are picked and pickled and these are the capers that are in all the shops here. We also have jars of much larger capers, and they are the seed pod of the same flowers, that remains when all the petals and stamens have fallen. So, we learn something new every day.
When we had spent a pleasant hour or two in the sun, we piled back on to the coach and drove to a restaurant for an excellent menu del día. We sat around the tables there for quite a while, and when we went back out, the clouds were gathering again, and we could see that it was raining heavily over the distant mountains. There was lots of lovely light and shade on the cliff in front of the car park, but it didn´t show up too well on the photo I took.

The yellow bush in the foreground is broom. It is in flower everywhere right now, and it looks lovely. The car park was surrounded by an area of stoney ground, and all over it there were little clumps of scarlet poppies. (They are called amapolas out here, and I think that has a lovely ring to it).They never cease to amaze me, because they look do very delicate, yet they survive the hard stoney ground, the heat of the sun and the harsh winds, and just continue to make lovely patches of colour.

Our final stop of the day was at the cherry orchards of Baza. There was just field after field of these trees.
They are kept fairly low to help with the task of picking the fruit. We did not actually pick any ourselves but we could see them shiny bright red between the dark leaves.
The man told us that once they are picked they have to be marketed within twenty-four hours, so they are picked at daybreak every morning. In the warehouse there were stacks of boxes that we could buy from, so I came home with these.
There are five kilos in each box, and they are huge and juicy and very delicious! So I guess that is my work for tomorrow cut out. I shall store some of the best ones in the fridge and hope they keep well until Monday so that Chris can have some when he gets home. But mostly I will be stoning them, freezing some, and putting others into jars and covering them with brandy or ameretto. These have to be sealed and stored for a year, by which time they have a rather strange texture, but they taste nice and the liquor is wonderful! And the rest will, of course, be turned into jam. I don´t think I have ever made cherry jam, because even in the market, the cherries are too expensive to make jam with, but these were half the price, so I shall give it a go. We won´t include in that list the ones I will eat along the way!

As we drove home we went through an area of storm. There were tiny patches of rainbow behind the breaks in the clouds, and sky was very black. The fields around looked like they were smoking with fire, but actually it was a series of small whirlwinds whipping up the dry, sandy earth. Then we briefly drove through heavy rain before coming out the other side of it to clear skies for the rest of our journey.
Another strange thing that we experienced on the way home was really an optical illusion. Our trip organiser told us that there was a patch of road that appears to go downhill, but it you were to lay a can on its side in the road, then it would roll back uphill. That sounded a bit odd but when we reached the road, and we certainly appeared to be driving downhill, the driver stopped and put the coach into neutral, and sure enough, it started to roll backwards - apparently uphill. There must have been something about the arrangement of the contours of the land that gave the illusion of the road running downwards, when in fact it was running up. But it was a strange feeling all the same.

I was home by 8.30 so the dogs were only an hour late getting their tea tonight, but they were pleased to see me. And as I fed them I took this picture of sky.
And on that happy note, I shall  go and link up with Annie´s Friday Smiles, and Rocking Your World over on Virginia´s blog, and I´ll bid you all Goodnight.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Rocking Your World 2015: Week 21

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.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Rocking Your World 2015: Week 20

Hi everyone. I am a bit late starting this today but the reason is that I have just chatted to my sister, Jean on Skype for an hour, and I make no apologies for that. Family comes first etc.....
I have no special Smile for you this week. In fact I have very little to write about at all, because I haven´t done very much, except sit around and enjoy watching the flowers grow. So guess what photos you will see today?  Yep - Flowers! And they sure make me smile!

So let´s start with my lovely roses which have really done themselves proud this year. We have several plants growing round the edge of our tiny front garden, but the one at the end always grows twice as tall as the others, and has fairly non-descript flowers on it. But this year it is a mass of blooms, and although they are as tall as me, They still make a lovely show outside our sitting-room window.

This bumble bee was enjoying them too, visiting each flower in turn. I only managed to catch him on the camera when he came down to the lower flowers.

Then out at the back, just outside our railings, but still on our land, the oleander is looking lovely. It is a special one with variegated leaves and extra double pink flowers. They almost look like little camelias.
These hang over the fence into our garden, and this year I think they appreciate having the big acacia trees cut down. They have much more space and light now, and it obviously suits them. They will continue to bloom right through into the Autumn.
Then we have this rather odd one which is a strelizia nicolai. It would grow much larger if it wasn´t restricted to a large pot, but it is plenty big enough for me. It is not my favourite plant but it is quite interesting. I really prefer its cousin the common purple and orange Bird of Paradise flower, but this is a tough old bird. It has had two lots of puppies who have chewed it down to the ground, but at always seems to bounce back, and this year the dogs are old enough to know they must leave the plants alone.
We have three or four big buds on it this year, and one is almost open now, though you can´t see its pale blue tongue. Maybe I will get a better picture next week.
Last Saturday we went down to Mojacar Playa to go to a summer market for our church. The church has two branches - one in Mojacar and the one I go to which is up near Albox, but we combined for the fete and it was very busy. 
There was one stall there selling plants that the man had mostly grown either from seeds or from cuttings. I bought an Amarylis plant that was just two bare stems with a single bud on each. I knew each bud would have at least three flowers inside it, as I always had these as house plants in UK. Out here they do better outside, so I put mine on the front porch, and within a couple of days it had started to open. It has in fact got four flowers on each stem so I am very pleased with it. I am hoping I will be able to keep it going for several years. A Spanish lady down the road has a beautiful one that she told me has bloomed for sixteen years!

And before we leave the flowers for this week, take a look at this amazing ´chumba´or prickly pear plant that grows down the bank behind our neighbours house. Last year the chumba was almost wiped out in this area by the tiny white cochineal moth. But this plant seems to be impervious to their attack and it is back this year looking as beautiful as ever. The plant is just a mass of flowers which open in the morning and close again at night time. Later, of course, it will be covered with fruit. The flowers, like those on most cacti, are really beautiful.

It has been a quiet week for us because our car is still off the road, awaiting a spare part, so we have not made any journeys except for essential ones. There is no public transport at all from the village, so without our cars we really are a bit stuck. We did use our friends car to get to Chris´hospital appointment, and for my choir practice, and tonight we did an emergency shopping trip. We are really grateful to Eileen for lending us her car, and I am grateful to Chris for taxiing me around in it, as I am not confident to drive a strange vehicle, especially when it belongs to some one else!
Car or no car, I don´t think we would have gone far yesterday. They warned us that a mini heatwave was coming to Spain, and on the net they showed this photo taken in Seville yesterday morning. Fortunately it didn´t go as high as 50º here, but we have an outside thermometer that is tucked into a shady corner, and never gets the sun on it, and that just about made it up to 40º.

And to make it worse, there was a strong wind all afternoon that felt like you were in the line of a giant hair-dryer. It dries your skin, your hair and your throat, so it was definitely a day to stay at home. I thought it was the sirocco wind that blows from the south, across from N.Africa, but actually this one came from the North. It stayed hot when the wind died down at sunset, and it was still 30º at midnight. We had our ceiling fan on all night for the first time this year.
I am glad to say that it is a good ten degrees cooler today, and I was happy to be able to sit out on the porch doing some crochet this afternoon.

I was also happy to be able to help some friends this morning. I have somehow slipped into the role of go-between for some folks from the village and other organisations from outside. Today I took our vicar and a friend from the church, up to our Town Hall to discuss the use of various venues for social functions. I have got to know a lovely lady who moved into our street last month after living in N.Spain for many years. She speaks Spanish fluently so I asked her if she would come to translate for us, and she was happy to come, which was a huge help.

I just have two sky photos to show this week. Taken from much the same place, with just a quarter of an hour between shots, it is surprising how much the colour of the sky had changed. Having seen such an amazing sky when I left my choir practice a couple of weeks ago, and getting caught without my camera, I made sure I had it with me this week, so of course there was a much less sensational sunset! That´s life, isn´t it? But I still took these photos and I think they are really pretty, so I hope you do too.

Now I shall link up with Annie´s Friday Smiles and Virginia over at Celtic House. Phew! I still finished before midnight, with a quarter of an hour to spare. Goodnight all.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Rocking Your World 2015: Week 19

Hello all. I am going to be my own Friday Smile for this week. 

I got Chris to take this photo of me to use with a brief bio I prepared to go on my Guest Designer spot for the Butterfly Challenge. (You can read about it here and here. The first one is the challenge page, and the second is my description of how I made my card, from my own blog).

It is exactly a year since Tango came to live with us. He was such a poor old thing back then. He is in the middle of his main moult right now, so he still isn´t looking his best, but he looks a lot better than he did then.

Now the challenge has gone live, I shall use this photo as my google profile for a while. My sons change theirs every few weeks but I never think to change mine.
It has been a week of mixed fortunes but there was nothing happened that we couldn´t live with.
Last week I had several comments on my picture of "Miki having a bad hair day"! So today I thought I´d show you one on a "Good hair day". I had just given her a good brush, and she is like a big, fluffy teddybear, but it last for just a few minutes. Then she gives herself a shake and she is back to being a scruffy-muffin again!
While on the subject of animals I though you might like to see what I meant when I was bemoaning the arrival of the circus across the green zone from us last week. By the next day several strange animals appeared, in cages, in pens, and grazing on the sparse vegetation in the green zone.
These ones were no bother.
These were perhaps a little too close for comfort!
I thought this was a very handsome beast. He just stared at me with a rather mournful expression. There were actually several of them and one big black one, but this was the poser!

I took all these photos from our back yard, just outside my craft room window!

What with their bellowing and the lions roaring, and our dogs barking back at them, it was not a very peaceful few days. Fortunately on Thursday they packed up and moved on.

There were a couple of other items of interest in the green zone this week. This is one of my favourite wild flowers. It is a bit like bindweed but is more inclined to be a ground cover, than to climb, though I have seen one very like it on the railings and fences. It is such a pretty colour and flowers so freely. I am happy to see it fighting its way through all the dead branches and grasses just the other side of our back railings.  

Also the pomegranate trees came into flower this week. With their fruit being such a dark pink inside, one might expect the flowers to be pink too, but in fact they are a bright orange-red, so they stand out against the dark leaves even from a distance. 
Wednesday was a bit of a disaster. The car had not sounded quite right in the morning but it was going OK so we decided it was fine for me to go to choir practice in the evening; a 30-40 minute drive from here. Unfortunately, about half way along the motorway I knew something was really wrong. I phoned Chris, who was helpless to do anything, but it was reassuring to talk to him. In the end we decided that I should try again and sure enough I travelled a bit nearer my destination. I did get off the motorway which was a blessing, but I didn´t quite get as far the choir room, before I stopped altogether. The engine was overheating and losing power and I knew I could do some serious damage if I tried to continue. It was then a real test for me, as I would usually sit back and let Chris deal with anything like that, but I was on my own so I had to do it. (I should add here that we are not allowed to contact a friend to come and work on it at the side of the road). I found the insurance policy and rang the office - in Madrid! After some desperate efforts on my behalf to understand the mile-a-minute Spanish instructions that were being barked at me, I managed to explain that I couldn´t understand and needed someone who could speak English - a promise from the company. In fairness, it was getting on for 8.00 by then and most of the staff were going home, but eventually a girl came on to speak to me. I gave her my policy number in English, and confirmed it in Spanish (I can do numbers), and that seemed to exhaust her English vocabulary, so then I had a pigeon English v. pigeon Spanish conversation with several other people. They were having difficulty grasping my location and kept asking for the name of a shop or hotel nearby to help them find me. I tried to explian that I was on an open road with not a shop or house even in sight. But eventually a more local recovery company came on line, and through an interpreter, I managed to tell him where I was, and very soon after that he rolled up to take me, and the car, back home. They would have paid for me to have a taxi but as I have never used a taxi out here, I didn´t know any numbers, so I opted to travel in the pick-up truck, and I did arrive home safely just before dark.
I was quite proud that I had aquitted myself adequately, and I would not worry if I had to do it again, but the thing that really tickled me about it was that, everytime they put me on hold, they played music, and each time it was singing in English "Happy days are here again"!! I couldn´t help but wonder whether they knew what the words were saying.

Sadly the car needs a new water pump and possibly a thermostat, and our mechanic friend is very busy. He has had a quick look and has promised to fix it early next week. With no public transport in and out of the village at all, we really do rely on our cars, but my lovely friend Eileen has lent us hers for a few days, as she will only be going out with her husband in his car over the weekend. So I am mobile until Monday afternoon at least. That is so good of her to trust us with it, and it helps me out a lot as I have several commitments over the weekend.

Seeing as I was tied to the house yesterday, in case our mechanic friend managed to come over to look at the car, I thought I might as well do something useful. So I got out all my knitting for Africa items, to sort them out ready for a shipment next time my courier friend is going over to UK, probably later this  month. The clothes are all sorted really but I had lots of blankets in various stages of completion. I sorted out two black bags full of finished ones, and another one of blankets that need an edge crocheted round them. Then I have a big crate full of squares. Several of my Wednesday group ladies just knit squares at our meetings because they don´t take too much concentration when they are chatting with their friends. So each week I get handed a few more and I throw them all into the crate, full of good intentions to sew them together. I have completed a couple of blankets recently but I think I have around 500 more squares to use! So yesterday I went outside and sorted them all into sizes. They are supposed to all be 6" squares but they vary from four to eight, and everything in between. I then counted them out in groups of around 36, as we make the blankets six by six unless the squares are very small. Then I might do seven by seven. It doesn´t matter if they come up a bit big, but they shouldn´t be any smaller than a metre square. So here are all my piles of squares.
Aren´t they lovely and colourful? They look a bit of a mess with all the strands of wool, but I asked everyone to leave a tail when they had finished, and then, instead of having to sew all the ends in before I join them up, I can use the end to sew up with. They took me very literally, so some have a much longer tail than they need, but that is better than it being too short.
Today another kind friend came round and took two blanket´s worth of squares away to sew up for me, and she promised to enlist some others to help too. It doesn´t take too long once I get started, but they need to be done as it will soon be too hot to sit with a blanket on my knee all evening while I work on it.

I have also managed to do another two pages of my Ireland scrapbook. For this page I used a purchased page template. I have never used one quite like this before. It was designed to take seven photos but I did fit eight on. It also had around forty-four layers i.e. little paper strips, flowers, bunting etc, each of which should be replaced with ones of your choice. I didn´t use them all, and it is still a very busy page, but it makes the finished book quite interesting to look at, and I enjoyed the challenge. I did it all in Adobe photoshop using an Irish digi scrapbook kit called I feel Lucky.

Although we celebrated Mothering Sunday back in March in UK, many other countries have their Mother´s Day this weekend so I decided to do a little feature on my boys, who make me feel so blessed to be a mum. I couldn´t have a much more varied bunch of lads, each with their own speciality, and I love them all to bits. So here is the eldest one, Jim, doing what he does best. As you can see, he is an Anglican vicar, with a church near Wolverhampton. With three children of his own, holding a squalling baby for her christening doesn´t cause him any problems, and at least she stopped crying for the photos!.

Son number two, Mike, is a Peter Pan character who has no intention of ever growing up! He is a people person which makes him very good at his job of fund-raising advisor for The Severn Hospice. He wisely keeps his work very separate from his social media life, so I do not get many photos of him in his official capacity, but I think here he is helping with a raffle at a fund raising event. In his free time he is happiest when he is jumping into rivers with his two sons, or cooking weird and wonderful family meals, or listening to very loud music!

Tom is a clever lad who graduated with a first in Maths with Computing. He is a computer whizz and is very good at advising me or talking me through any problems I have with my machine. My husband is also great with computers but he is not a teacher, so he puts things right for me but can never explain to me what I am doing wrong. Tom is more patient, and we talk on skype. When he gets together with his dad they might as well be talking a foreign language, as I have no idea what they are on about!
He likes to go out for long rides on his bike. This was taken in the hills along the Welsh border where we used to live. The snow never used to put him off at all. A year ago he moved to Denmark when the company he worked for was taken over by a Danish company. So now he is out and about exploring his new surroundings. I can´t wait for our week in July when we join him out there, and get to see some of it for ourselves.

Next is Jonathan, who is a very talented drummer.
He plays in three heavy metal bands, and while it is not my style of music by choice, I love to see him play. He puts every ounce of his heart and soul into it. You can see how fierce he looks! 
This photo was taken by a friend called Robin Hall. They were playing at a weekend heavy rock festival in Cardiff last week, called Red Sun. He lives for the live gigs, but to pay for them, he works at the Manchester branch of The Brighton Institute for Modern Music. He is in the throes of setting up his own recording studio which will realise his dream.
And that brings us to ´my baby´ Ben. He is also a talented musician, playing the piano, guitar and saxophone. But I like it best when he plays and sings the songs he has written. But this week he has discovered Billy Joel, and has recorded himself doing cover versions of two of his songs. I laughed when he told me because Billy Joel is much nearer to my age than Ben´s, but he said the words were just how he feels, and they moved him to want to sing them too. And I guess that´s what music is all about really.
And he is right, they do suit his style.  So here is a rather poor photo that I captured from his video. Unfortunately he hasn´t uploaded his videos to the web so I can´t share them with you as I had hoped to.
So there you have it. You have met the Perry Tribe, and I am sure you can see why I am a proud Mum!

Now all that is left is for me to share a set of beautiful sky photos I caught one day this week.

Isn´t that last one beautiful?!
Now I will go and link up with Annie´s Friday Smiles and Virginia at Celtic House.