Friday, June 26, 2015

Rocking your world 2015: Week 26

I am sure you will all love my photo today. After all, who doesn´t like a teddy -- or ten -- or twenty even!!

Don´t they look fun! This is the pattern that Brian asks us to knit for my Africa project, because he likes to give one the same to every new-born. I don´t make them. They are a bit fiddly for me and I hate trying to put nice faces on all of them. But Ruth, one of my friends from my sewing group, has made all of these, and her sister does their faces. They sadly lost their mother last year, and she had been interested in their knitting and had bought some of their wool, so they decided to finish what she had started and add to it, in her memory. Together they made one blanket, several jumpers, lots of hats and these teddies. I am not sure how many there were of each, but I know the numbers were significant. Ruth lives out here, in my village, and her sister lives in UK, so a couple of weeks ago, when Ruth was on holiday in UK, the two of them visited Brian and Barbara to deliver their project in person. Here is Ruth, handing some of it over to Brian, Barbara (far left), and one of their workers.

Didn´t they do well? And Ruth has also been a great help to me here. Together with two sisters Gloria and Selina, they have been taking away bags full of squares, and when one has sewn them together to make a blanket, another has crocheted around the edge. Meanwhile I have been busy adding rows of squares around pieces of work that I have been given, which are too small to stand alone, but much to nice to sit around unused. So with a few added squares, and a crocheted border, they too have been made into blankets. So although we sent our big consignment for this year with my courier friend last month, already we have another ten blankets ready to go. I am going to squeeze two or three into my case when I go over there next week, and hopefully I will also be able to meet Brian and Barbara in person. Ruth is over there again in August, and this time she is driving over, so she will take any more that we have if she can make room for them in her car. Then we will have a bit of a rest over the summer, and start knitting for the next big consignment again in the Autumn.

I am sure you don´t really want to focus on this, but we are now half way through the year. Our oldest son Jim is celebrating his birthday today, and I once worked out that today is the exact middle day between last Christmas Day and the next one! I said you wouldn´t want to know! So here is Jim in a rare photo with his son Marcus. Jim is a vicar near Wolverhampton, and his little ´flock´sometimes refer to him as ´the hippy vicar´because he wears his hair long and usually has a cowboy-style hat on, and torn jeans (under the clerical robes that is!). It is very rare indeed to see him looking quite so smart but there must have been a special occasion! 
Happy Birthday Son !!

This week has flown past, probably because I still have quite a lot to do before I go away on holiday. But today I got out my sewing machine. It only sees light of day once a year, if that. 

But I have managed to  mend two shopping bags as a
´warm-up exercise´, and then I have mended my favourite dress which just has to last for one more season at least. I bought it at Wembley market around thirty years ago. At the time I was teased a lot for wearing it, but now everyone is more colourful, and no-one bats an eyelid when I turn up in it. It is thin enough to shoot peas through now (as my old mum used to say!), but I still love it, and will be very sad when it is worn beyond repair. I have also altered one dress and now I´m working on another one. Then my machine can hide away in the cupboard again for another year!

We had a lovely evening on Wednesday when our choir had their last practice before the summer break and we invited friends and family to come and listen to us singing through our whole repertoire - so far. More songs to learn when we return in September. This is the only photo I am showing as we have agreed not to publish online any video clips etc until we have done our first ´professional´concert. This was just a normal practice session, but with an audience. Of course there were a few little things that we still need to work on, but on the whole it went really well. There were lots of lovely comments afterwards, and some people saying "We didn´t expect you to be so good, not yet anyway". 
So here we all are. As you can see, there are only about twenty of us, and we have only been together for seventeen weeks, so really we have done very well to get this far. I thoroughly enjoy being a part of it.

After this weekend we have a couple of months of doing very little. My Wednesday sewing group continues to meet through the summer, but everything else comes to a stop. It is very hot now, and there are weather warnings of exceptional temperatures for the next two weeks, so we tend to stay indoors and rest in the afternoons, and wake up again at tea-time. There´s a lot to be said for siestas!!

We seem to have entered the season for praying mantis! We have seen several of them around the yard just lately. Of all the bugs, these are one of my favourites. They are such an odd shape, and so very agile, and they eat a lot of the less welcome bugs that are around too. As I got my washing down from the line today, one little green mantis jumped off a cloth onto me. Then he ran all over me like grease lightening before I could shake him off. He was a very small one, but yesterday one just a bit bigger was having a supper of red saw-fly caterpillars on my roses. These caterpillars suddenly appear on a rose bush and can strip every bit of leaf off it in a couple of days. So I was happy to see a mantis feeding on them, but I was out there to hose all the plants, and I hosed the rose before I saw him, so he hopped down and ran away. But I expect he was back as soon as I had turned the water off.

With the temperature hovering around the mid-thirties all week, I have been grateful for our pool to cool down in. I had my first mid-night swim the other day. It is a lovely way to cool right down before falling into bed!
I have also been grateful for the slower pace of things which means we have had time to sit and chat with friends more. After our sing-a-long on Wednesday we sat outside the bar where we practice, and chatted to a couple that we have known for years, but they live a long way from us, so we rarely actually get to talk. We ended up sitting there until nearly mid-night. While we were chatting I was watching the sun set behind us, but as so often happens there, because it is nearer to the mountains than we are, there were clouds gathering all around, and much of the sunset was lost behind them. I only had my phone with me but I did manage this one photo.
I am sitting here with the ceiling fan and the floor standing one one, and I am still too hot. So although I should go back and try to finish my sewing, I will just link this up with Annie´s Friday Smiles, and Rocking Your World over on Virginia´s blog, and then I think I can hear the pool calling.

I´ll have to get busy at the machine tomorrow morning, as I also need to do some ironing and have my case more or less packed by bedtime. On Sunday I will be at church in the morning and we are following the service with a fellowship lunch which we have signed up for. On Monday I need to do some basic shopping so I leave the cupboard stocked for our house/animal sitter, and then we have a lunch time birthday party which will probably go on all evening. So I can´t see me getting much done on either of those days.

On Tuesday we will have to leave by 8.00 in the morning, to drive to Murcia airport. I have a busy week with something planned for each day while I am in UK. I am looking forward to seeing our four boys who all live in the Midlands, and to meeting our newest great-grandson, born late December. The next week I am flying on to Denmark to see the son who now lives out there, and Chris is flying out to join us there. So I will probably not be posting for the next two Fridays, but be warned - there are bound to be lots of photos to show when I get back!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Rocking your world 2015: Week 25

Well it is now two minutes past midnight in Spain, so I didn´t quite make it for Friday this week, but I shall get this posted before I go to bed.
I have three smiles to start us off with
this week, and the first is a picture I saw on facebook this week that really tickled me. Perhaps it is because I have four cats of my own, but anyway I hope it makes you smile too.

The second one is also a photo I ´borrowed´from facebook, but as it belongs to one of my sons, that doesn´t matter. 
This is my second oldest son with my second youngest son, and they drove right up to Scotland together this week to attend a gig of a group they both like. It always warms my heart to see any of the boys enjoying the company of one or more of their brothers. We did worry that they wouldn´t stay in touch so well once we moved away, but if anything they have grown closer. Certainly Mike and Jonathan look happy to be together.

My third smile is this photo of our Miki who had her summer haircut this week.She has had a lot of comments on facebook, but several folk thought she was a boy. It was our Annie who pointed out it might have something to do with the way she is sitting and the position of her right back leg!!

Lots of my friends think she looks better after her haircut. Personally I love her when it is long and shaggy, but she must be a lot more comfortable without it. We only have it cut once a year, so she will have a warm coat again by the time winter sets in.

I actually have a fourth happy photo now, albeit a very bad one.
This is son number three, so he comes between the two above, and the reason that I am so late with my blog tonight, is that I have just spent at least two hours chatting with him on Skype. While we were talking I did this screen capture, but he has such low lighting in his flat, that the photo is very dark. But I am so grateful for Skype that allows me to keep in touch with all the family.

I haven´t got a lot else to report on this week. I did go to coffee morning up at our friends house on Tuesday. Out here everything grinds to a halt for July and August, so this week we have our last house group, our last choir practice etc, and already things are slowing down. So we have decided that, as we live so far apart, and not likely to just bump into one another when we are out, we will hold a few social gatherings over the summer, just to keep in touch until everything wakes up again in September. So this coffee morning was a sort of practice run and it was lovely. There was a really good turnout, and despite a heavy storm the day before, and plenty of lingering cloud, we  were still able to sit around outside and just enjoy one another´s company.
And coffee mornings are not just for the ladies. There were quite a few men folk there too. These three seem to be enjoying themselves.
Some of us said we would take along a plate of something to share with our coffee and there was an amazing array of food. Remember this was just a coffee morning, not a party, and I took this when only about half of us had arrived. There was way more by the time everyone was there.
I have to say, we did it justice, and there wasn´t much left by the time we went home.
You may recognise the venue, because it was at the same home as the party we went to last week. My friend Pat and I decided to try the pool again in daylight this time, but we had quite a shock. It was a lot colder than when we swam at around midnight last week. We checked the thermometer and the water was only 22º! It has been up to 27º which is a lot easier to get into. But we had decided to swim so we just went for it, and before long we had got used to it and it was quite pleasant.
Most of the others were happy to stand around watching or laughing at us, but our hostess did join us for a while.

I am grateful to our local dentist who turned out to be a very nice man. He was patient and careful, and after an hour and a half in his office yesterday, and the same today, I have a had a root canal filling with no pain or discomfort at all, and after one more session next week to reconstruct the tooth above it, I shall be done!

I still lack confidence when speaking in Spanish so every little success is a triumph. This morning I was in our Farmacia collecting my monthly prescription when an elderly English woman came in with a used syringe that she wanted destroyed safely. The assistants thought she wanted to buy some more and didn´t recognise the writing on it, so I was able to explain to them that  it was just for safe disposal. They all beamed at me and were so pleased, and it gave me a little lift to be able to help, and to be properly understood for once. Small steps, small steps, but I am getting better every time I try!

So now I have one sky photo to end with. It is nothing special, but as I glanced out of my craft room window I saw this face looking back at me. My husband can´t see it, so maybe it is just me...
And on that note, I will quickly link up with Annie´s Friday Smiles and Rocking Your World over at Celtic House, (and it is still Friday in UK!), and then I am off to find my bed. I´ll be back tomorrow to visit you and enjoy all your happy photos etc. Good-night all!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Rocking your world 2015: Week 24

Wow. We´re at week 24 already. How time does fly. It seems a bit odd this year as we should now be going into the hottest part of the year, but we are still getting thunderstorms and some rain, which can bring the temperature down a good few degrees. But between the storms it is more like summer, and we have had a bit of both this week.

We will start our smiles this week with these three happy faces.

The two on the outside are best friends, Richard (on the left) and Gustavo. Richard had his fiftieth birthday a few weeks ago, but as they were away on holiday we did not have the chance to celebrate with him. This Saturday it was also Gus´s birthday, so Richard and his wife decided to hold a joint party with a barbecue. We do expect it to be safe weatherwise when we arrange a June party, but Saturday evening was very overcast, with a feel of rain in the air. Not deterred we all turned up, prepared for an evening outside. There were tables, and groups of seating ready when we arrived, and Gus´s daughter Paolita, was at a table in a corner mixing mojitos. 

It would have been rude not to try one wouldn´t it? I love mojitos and these were very good. I only had one, early in the evening, and after that I was on ginger ale as I was the one driving home along the motorway. Fortunately I am not a drinker and I can enjoy myself without alcohol, so it is no hardship for me to be the designated driver when we go anywhere.
Soon there was quite a crowd there, and we all drifted to one of the groups, sitting around the pool.

The sensible ones made themselves comfortable under the pergola where the bar was!
Gus went around having his photo taken with groups of friends, but I took this one of him with his wife. They are both from Columbia, so are fluent in Spanish, and they are great fun to be around.
Meanwhile Richard was busy manning the barbecue, and he soon had a good heap of sausages and burgers ready to eat.

There were also huge trays of oven cooked chicken, and every surface in the kitchen was covered with salads, bread, and anything else we could possible need.
Late in the evening we went indoors to cut the birthday cakes. There were two very different cakes. Richard´s was made by one of our English friends. The sugar-craft walking boots and poppies were most impressive.
For Gus, there was a Spanish style cake made by his wife - equally tasty, and it carried some pretty amazing candles!
Around midnight several of us jumped into the pool. It looked just too inviting to miss the opportunity. Those on the side thought we were mad, but it was lovely and warm, and so refreshing.
The rain held off all evening, and we sat around until the early hours of the morning, just chatting and enjoying the company. I think we got home around 3.00!

I guess that is the highlight of my week, but other good things were the arrival of a parcel from America that I have been waiting for. Now I just need some time to play with the contents.
I managed to make a few more cards so I have nearly all the ones I will  need over June and July, when I will be in UK for some of time, and will not be crafting.
I am grateful to have found a dentist who is willing to do the work on our teeth that we both need, so hopefully we will soon both enjoy our food more.
I am so grateful to the friends who have taken away another five blankets worth of squares to stitch together for me. I am getting near the bottom of the crate now. It will be good to have it empty for the summer. I am crocheting round pieces of work that I have been given which are a bit too small. So I am just bringing them up to the required size, but it is getting too hot to have a blanket on my  lap all evening, especially when our big fellow Kim thinks it there for him to lay on!
I had another gift of fruit this week from a different friend. One of my sewing group gave me a big water melon. Her neighbour had given her four, but no-one can get through that many of them before they go off. Not too many folk were interested in having one, but I like them because they make a good base for my fruit blends and smoothies.
This morning I went down to Turre market and there was a man there who drives to UK regularly in a van, and comes back with whatever he is able to buy. It is from him that I can buy good Bramley cooking apples which they don´t have out here. Another thing we cannot usually get is the soft berry fruits. I guess they have a too short shelf life. This year, for the first time, Lidls have had a few raspberries and blue berries, grown in the province, in the area of Huelva, where the strawberries come from. But they are not all that good flavour wise, and they are very expensive. So today I was delighted to see the market man had little punnets of raspberries, blackberries, and blue berries, and they were a good price too. So I treated us to a tray of each, but we will have to eat them quick, as they won´t last in the heat.
Also in the market I bought a little tree for our front patch of garden. I have wanted one of these for a long time. It goes by the grand name of Caesalpinia gillesii, but seeing as I can´t even say that, I will stick with the name the local folk use - Arbol de ave de paraiso - or Bird of paradise tree. It is not a strelizia so it is not related to bird of paradise flowers. I thought it was an acacia like the mimosa, but apparently it is from the fabeles or bean family, and will have bean-type pods of seeds on it.
The leaves are delicate and fern-like, and at night they fold up, opening again with the morning sun. The flowers come in clusters, and are yellow with amazing long red stamens.
These are a bit sad looking because it is only a baby tree, and it suffered rather on the car ride home. But there are several more clusters of buds on it, so hopefully we will have some better flowers soon. Now I will I have to choose a home for it.
I will finish with one sunset photo. Richard and Margie´s house is quite high up on open campo land so I had hoped to get a good sunset photo, but sadly the threatening rain clouds obscured most of it. I did take this one at the last minute, and at least it is a different skyline from the usual one at the back of our house.
So all that is left is for me to link up with Annie´s Friday Smiles, and Virginia´s  Rocking your World post at Celtic House. Have a good week everyone.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Rocking my World 2015; Week 23

Hi everyone. My first smile today is a link to a video. If you love cats, especially big ones, do watch it. I guarantee you will smile. The caption reads (approximately),"Will the lion feels the earth on his skin for the first time after 13 years imprisoned in an iron cage". I couldn´t help but think of those lions that were caged in the trailer at the back of our house a few weeks ago. I bet they´d like to feel the earth on their skin! I couldn´t manage to link the picture to the video but you can watch it by clicking here.

I make no apologies for my second smile today, although you have all seen similar ones before. It was time to get my big white cat Arwen stripped of all her matted fur. So here are the before and after shots.           BEFORE

They had to trim a lot of her face hair this time, but they left it a good shape, and I think she is rather pretty. She is also so much more comfortable, and therefore more happy. She has even deigned to sit on my knee for a few minutes this week. She also still has her furry boots on, but for the first time, she needed to have her tail shaved. It just has a little tassel on the end, like a lion. She has to be put under anaesthetic to have this done as she is not very friendly by nature, and can do quite some damage with her claws and teeth when she doesn´t approve of what you are doing.
You can just see that she has folds of loose skin under her tummy from where she was just used as a kitten machine by her previous owners. She was only around 3 or 4 years old when I took her in, but she had had several litters each year. Goodness knows how they managed to mate her. He was a brave tom cat! She doesn´t take kindly to sharing her space with other animals, nor people, though she just about tolerates me. Seeing as she lives in my craft room she doesn´t get a lot of choice about that!

So lets look at the highlights of my week. Hubby arrived back from the UK safely on Monday. It is good to have him home.
I had two successful jam making sessions early in the week. I made lots of cherry jam with the fruit I bought on our outing last week, and I´ve already sold half of it. 
I had to make some new labels fast as I hadn´t made cherry jam before. I made a template for my jam labels to fit the sheets of labels I can buy at a local stationers, and once I have made them for any given fruit, I save them in a file so I can always print out more. By law, if I sell my jam in a public place, I am suppose to list the ingredients in Spanish. I often see jam for sale at local events without this, but I try to comply with the law. The two jars at the end are stoned cherries in brandy in the lower jar, and the top one is cherries in Ameretto. I have to be very strong willed and put those away in a cupboard for a year before I try them.
On Sunday, my friend at church gave me another tray of nectarines, and I had about a kilo of apricots in the fridge, so I mixed those together and made some more jam. So my cupboard is quite well stocked again at the minute.
I have been working on finishing off a few more blankets for Africa. I know our main shipment went across to UK last week, but I have a friend who is driving over in August and she is going to take a few more things for me if she can fit them in her car. I had several blankets that were almost ready. Sometimes they are just a bit too small and I need to crochet a wider border on them. Also some of my Wednesday group have been helping me by sewing squares together, so that is more blankets that need edging. Going through my box of oddments I came across a big square of bright pink knitting. It was a big square to make in one piece, but sadly it was still under the required minimum of a metre square. So this week I found a set of blue, green and purple squares and stitched them all round it, and then did a very simple burgundy shell edging, and now that one is finished. I think it looks rather nice.
The summer weather is here at last. We´ve been hitting thirty most days, and higher in sheltered spots. So here is Chris cooling down in the pool. Miki is the only one of the dogs who will come within a mile of the pool, even when we are in it. The other two creep up onto the porch and and sit watching. I´m glad in a way that they don´t jump into the water, like some of my friends dogs do. The chlorine is very bad for them, and their hair blocks the drain enough just blowing in from the yard! I haven´t been in much yet, but I think I will be next week.
At lunch time today we had to drive over to the hospital in Almeria. Chris has rheumatoid arthritis, though luckily not too severely, and he has an appointment with his specialist every six months. He was pleased with him this morning and said he needn´t see him again for year this time. Chris says he feels a fraud sometimes when there are others there so much worse than him, but it is because it was recognised early and he has had such good treatment here, that he is continuing stable, so we are grateful for the medical care they have given him.
After the hospital we decided to drive down to the beach for a drink before going home. Almeria is the capital city for our province, and it is unusual in that it is bounded on one side by a long stretch of sandy beach. When you fly into Almeria airport, you feel as though you are taxiing along the beach , it is so close to the runway. 
It was mid-afternoon by then, so the hottest time of the day, and the beach was almost deserted. We walked along the lovely tiled promenade, with hardly another soul in sight. 

But when we went into a chiringuito - beach café - there were some people in there having lunch. I sat sipping an enormous Tropical smoothie, and I took some photos from under the sun shades, looking along the beach towards the harbour, and the mountains beyond. But when I came to transfer them onto the computer, I found that I had left the SD card in the computer slot last night, so my photos had gone into the very little bit of internal memory on the camera. This shouldn´t have been a problem, but I have never had a USB cable to connect it to the computer, and the socket on the camera is not a usual size, so it has to be a specific one. So first of all I went on and ordered the right cable which will be here early next week, so the problem won´t arise again. But not to be defeated, I wanted the photos for this post, so I balanced the camera and brought the pictures up on its LCD screen, and took a photo of the screen with my phone. I then duly uploaded them to the computer and edited them a bit, so the quality of this picture, and the one above, is not good. They have a checkered pattern on them that makes them look like they are paintings on a textured canvas!

Where there´s a will, there´s a way!!

A couple of other things to be grateful for.
1. My quiet time first thing in the morning. When I have sorted out the cats, and fed the dogs, I take my breakfast out to the back of the house where we have a couple of benches and a table. It is too hot to sit there for most of the day in the summer, but first thing it is in the shade. There is only the green zone in front of me so it is very peaceful, and I sit listening to the bird song, and watching the swifts ducking and diving after any bugs that flying around. They are amazing acrobats. It is a good start to the day.
2. This morning I went for my monthly diabetes and blood pressure checks, and I was very pleased as my blood sugar count was almost down to where it was when I was taking two tablets a day. Six months ago I asked the doctor if I could try taking one and do the rest with a more careful diet, and she reluctantly agreed. I am not quite there yet, but there is a real improvement over last month.
3. We have had some family health issues over the last couple of weeks, but now everyone seems to have turned the corner and is doing much better. We were particularly concerned about our grandson who is twenty. He had, what we now know was almost certainly glandular fever, and he was very poorly. It will be some weeks before he is right back to good health, but he is eating and drinking again, and no longer in bed all day, so that is good news.

So now I will close with the one lovely sky we have had this week. I had closed up for the night when I just caught sight of it through the kitchen window. When I went out to take a photo I found that the light was bouncing off the clouds so that it was surrounding the whole house, which is quite unusual. So then I went out to the front of the house and took a picture there too.

Isn´t that lovely?. So now I will go and link up at Annie´s Friday Smiles and Rocking your World at Celtic House, and I´ll see you again next week.