Friday, September 25, 2015

Rocking Your World 2015: Week 39

When I was a young girl, I was sometimes reluctant to spend my Sunday at church with the family, but the one service I would never want to miss was the Harvest festival. Even back then, I loved the colours, the smell, and the arrangement of fruit and vegetables. Jean and I usually had a parcel of produce that dad had grown as our contribution and we carried it down the aisle with pride. Sadly the church I have attended since I came to Spain, chose not to celebrate this festival, even though several of us asked for it every year. But the new church that I moved to at the start of this year follows the Anglican order, so last Sunday was our Harvest festival, and this is my smile for this week.
A group of folk went up on Saturday morning to decorate the church with fresh produce, so there were flowers, and fruit and vegetables displayed.
My friend Pat had even made a traditional harvest loaf, of a sheaf of corn complete with a harvest mouse. She is very clever. These are tricky things to make, to get the shape just right before the dough rises too much. It was propped up on the altar during the service. 

Those who came to the service were asked to bring non-perishable food to be distributed later, and this made the centre display. As we are only a small group, averaging about forty in the congregation each week, we managed a wonderful collection.
We sang the traditional harvest hymns which took me back to my childhood again, and I am sure our Spanish neighbours could hear us singing them.
After the service we had a 'Bring and Share' lunch. it always amazes me how well these work. No-one confers, but somehow we all manage to bring something different, and there is more than enough for everyone to eat. There were two more laden tables beside this one.
Of course it makes it extra nice that we can sit out in the sun to eat it. It was a lovely day without being too hot, so we had plenty of space and time to move around and chat together.

On Monday, a group of people from the church loaded the food into their cars and took it up to the Town Hall in Zurgena. Although we are a ten minute drive from this village, Zurgena Town Hall actually own the church and they allow us to use it rent free, so it is nice to be able to give something back. The staff there made up nineteen food parcels for the families at the top of their 'In crisis' list.

As I said I would last week, I did tackle my larder this week, and the first thing was to empty half of it into the kitchen. So this what my kitchen looked like!
I couldn't move without knocking something over. This is where it all came from. When it was empty I was able to clean the floor, walls and shelves, and then I put it all away again, but now it looks tidy, and I know where everything is.

The other half was easier to do as that is where all my baking goods are stored. I put everything into new containers, all square ones this time so they stack better. Because I have a very small kitchen with few cupboards in it, all my big casseroles, baking tins, and bowls also live in the larder. I still need to make some new labels for the boxes, but I put a quick hand written sticker on them for now.

I had a bit of a shock this week when I counted up the Christmas cards I have made so far and found there were only forty-five. If I had managed my intended dozen each month I would have twice that many, so I have spent a fair bit of time in my craft room and have made over two dozen more. So that has cheered me up, and spurred me on to keep going.

I was happy to be able to help out my friend who needed to visit the medical centre this week. I am not a good enough Spanish speaker to act as a proper translator, but she speaks very little so I went along to help her out. Yesterday we went but the doctor didn't turn up, so we went back today. It was a good thing I was there, as it was a temporary doctor who was lovely, but she spoke hardly any English, so Eileen would have struggled. But between us we managed and the doctor was very helpful.

Last week I made a special card for the Butterfly challenge and when the results went up, my card had been picked for its 'wow' factor, which was nice. I shall have a voucher to spend in a digi store by next week. You can see my card HERE.

That's another week tied up. My how they fly. I will post two sky photos before I end. I just liked the way the rays of the sun are crossing the darker clouds in the first one, and the second one is there because...yes you guessed it...I can see a face up there again!

I apologise to all my lovely followers, that I didn't get back to you last week. It was a busy week and somehow life got in the way. I shall make up for it this week I promise. And Thank you to those who visited and left me comments anyway. I do appreciate it.

Now I will ink up with Annie's Friday Smiles, and Rocking your World at Celtic House, and I'll see you all again next week.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Rocking Your World 2015; Week 38

Yes it's week 38 already. It has been one of those weeks when I have not done anything everso exciting, but every day I have achieved something, so that is a good positive thought to start on. I have not got a funny photo or a joke for you this week, but you all know how I love to watch the sky, especially at sunrise and sunset, so here is my smile for tonight.
I took these four photos from my kitchen doorway this evening, at five minute intervals, between 8.05 and 8.20. We don't really have the time that in England we call dusk. One minute it is still light, and suddenly it is dark, so you really have to be on the ball to catch the sun set. But I think it is beautiful and worth the quarter of an hour that I had to stand guard!

It is not true to say I have not had any special times this week, but the main one was really last week on Friday night. You may remember that I posted earlier than usual because I was going out. The event was a barbecue with music, to raise funds for our church. We are a fairly small community church, working with our sister church in Mojacar, and together we need to continually raise funds so that we can be self-supporting. We met at my friends Chris and Phil´s house. They have a lovely big covered patio along the front and side of their 'L-shaped' villa and when we arrived it was beautifully laid out with tables and seating for the 50+ guests, with the corner set up for the musicians.
Our branch of the church has been running for nine months and these social events are a good opportunity for us to get to know the members from the other branch, so to start with, we mingled and just chatted.

The lady on the far left of the second photo is our vicar. She is lovely and we are enjoying helping her to grow our little group. As you can see, there is a bar in the background, and Phil and Mike did a sterling job of manning the bar and cooking the food.
Before we ate, we all found a seat and worked with those sitting near us to fill in a music quiz. (A quiz designed for us oldies who enjoyed music back in the 60's and 70' as well as some more up to date stuff). 
We look as though we are all taking it very seriously don´t we! While we did this, and throughout the rest of the evening, we were entertained by our lovely friend and pianist Sue, and her friend Andy on clarinet and saxophone. They paired up last year to build a repertoire of music, and now they are looking for bookings at restaurants etc. They played a lovely range of songs from the shows, popular music and some more classical pieces, and we really enjoyed listening to them.

So, what other positives have there been this week. 
Well, I got back into the jam making routine, using a bag of plums I bought at the market, simply because they were only 50 cents a kilo, which is really cheap, even by our standards. His supplier must have had a glut of them, probably picking them quick because of all the rain, because they were all perfect and they made some lovely jam. I chop my fruit because although I like plenty of it, I don't like too huge chunks in my jam, and this means I can leave their skins on which makes the jam a lovely rich pink colour. I made fourteen jars from my mix, so some of that will be sold at church and my sewing group, and I'll keep a few back for the Christmas markets. Of course we had to try it first!
Here is something else I bought in the market this week. I wonder whether you know what they are.
Well, they are dates, fresh from a palm tree. You don't see many of them in the supermarkets, but they are available in the street markets for just a few weeks. They are fairly expensive, but I treat myself to one lot each year. I leave them out on the table top and they ripen, gradually turning a greeny colour and then brown. You can see one is turning on these. The trick is to catch them just as they go fully brown when they are ripe, sticky and delicious. I don´t like them if they are not fully ripe, and once they are, they soon deteriorate, so I check mine every day. The 'turning' one has now been eaten, and two more are on the turn. Some always go bad before they ripen but I am quite hopeful that this bunch will do well.

I have had two long skype chats with my youngest son who has now booked his tickets to come and visit us next month;  Yippee! He is coming at the same time as our grandson and his girlfriend. Although Ben is Marcus' uncle, they are only eight years apart and they grew up together. They share a love of music, piano-playing , singing and pantomime acting, so they are good friends. Marcus' girlfriend Elli is also in the pantomime with them so it should be a fun week, and it will be nice to have some young folk around again.

Today I have completed a much needed task - I have emptied the fridge, cleaned everything, and stacked it back tidily. I had to turn the temperature down a couple of degrees during the summer, because every time the door is opened, another blast of hot air goes in, but the poor thing can only just cope with that, and the self-defroster gets carried away, causing water to leak out onto the floor. Now it is a little less crammed full, and the air is a few degrees cooler, it can get back to normal functioning, I hope. Tomorrow I tackle the larder. That's a much bigger task and not one I relish.

What a difference a drop of rain makes. As I drove to Turre today I noticed how much greener everything is, and there are little lines of grass along the verges of the roads. In my sunset photos at the top, there are two long branches silhouetted in each one. This is a week or so of growth on the bougainvillea. I only cut it back a couple of weeks ago, and this week it has gone mad again. 
About eighteen months ago I bought a little 'potato tree' and stood it in a smallish pot by our front door, but it hasn't flourished. It became very spindly and this year it had much fewer flowers on it and hardly any leaves. We were considering giving up on it, and buying something else to go there, but a couple of week ago I moved it into a larger pot, and then the storms came and it had a good soaking, and suddenly it is lush and green, with loads of new leaves and lots of flowers.


On Monday, Chris and I drove to Lorca to put the car through its ITV (MOT in UK), and I'm happy to say it passed. Here we drive it through the test area ourselves while the inspector tells us when to rev, brake, try the lights etc. It seemed very strange the first time we did it, but we are used to it now.

Wednesday evening is choir practice time, and it went really well this week. Last week was hot and humid and we all struggled to find our voices, but this week it was much better, and we covered a lot of songs. We are beginning to look for venues for our first proper performance now, which is quite exciting.

We went out again yesterday to do some shopping. We didn´t find what we were looking for but it was nice to just be out together for a while.

Now I will say good-night and leave you with one more sky photo that I took earlier this week. Nothing too dramatic, but I liked the cloud formation. It's a bit like a big white dove swooping down over us.
Now it's time to link up with Annie's Friday Smiles, and Rocking your World at Celtic House. See you all next week.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Rocking Your World 2015; Week 37

Hi everyone. No jokes from me, but a happy picture because it always makes me smile when one of our boys comes to visit. I often forget to get their photo taken with me, as I am usually the one holding the camera, but on Tom´s last day, I remembered, and Chris took this one. He has gone home with a tan as good as mine, if not better, but I am a 'stay in the shade' sort of person most of the time. He made the most of his week, and sat out in the sun for a while each day.

Unfortunately his last weekend was disappointing weatherwise. In fact we had some very dramatic storms which caused a lot of flash floods, danger and even loss of life in Adra and Almeria to the West of us, Benidorm to the East, and Granada to the North, all within a few hours drive from us, but this time we were spared. We took the brunt of it in 2012, so I am really grateful that our friends and neighbours didn´t have to suffer again. There were distant storms rumbling around last week, and we heard that on Thursday, the flamingos at Salinas, that we had visited the day before, were killed by golf-ball size hail stones. I was really sad to hear that, but after a few days of heavy rain, I am told that more have arrived.
It really started for us on Saturday night, when the sky-grumbling at tea-time intensified, the TV went off, but fortunately not the power, and we knew we wouldn´t be going out anywhere for the evening. So Tom and I made a big jug of Sangria, that lifted our spirits while we chatted and listened to music, and enjoyed the amazing lightening show outside.
Because we rarely have heavy rain, most houses out here do not have any gutters, so when it does come down, it pours off the roof and makes a water spout at every corner. One such corner is above our fly-free porch, so we watched it coming down from the relatively dry bit at the end, which is under the porch.

Then Tom made a dash outside to turn on the pool light, so we could see the raining falling on the fly screen. At least it was 'clean rain' this time, so it washed all the dust off the screens for us!
By the next morning, the storms had played themselves out, and as we looked at videos of the flooding elsewhere, we realised how lucky we were. The sunrise on Sunday morning wasn't too promising, and Chris wasn't sure I should do the half-hour drive to church, but I decided to try it and promised to turn back if there was any sign of danger.
In fact it was clearing up as I drove, and I arrived safely. I didn't hang around for long after the service, because I could see the clouds gathering again on the hills above Albox. I stopped to take a quick photo, and one of the road I had to drive along to get home.

As you can see, the church is situated in fairly open campo land, where many of the roads are not properly surfaced, so I got home as quickly as I could. By the time we had finished our lunch, the thunder was back, and we had heavier storms, that were much closer to us. The dogs don't like thunder so they were happy to curl up inside with us, but we kept popping out to watch the lightening which was amazing. Such heavy rain is also quite exciting to watch, especially when you can watch it from a safe, dry position. It stayed quite warm, though not as hot as last month, and just before bedtime, Tom decided to take a shower under the water spout in the porch. He said he had never seen weather quite like that before!
Unfortunately for him, it lasted, with less intensity, through most of Monday as well, and Tuesday was his last day - half day really as he had to leave for the airport at mid-day. But on Tuesday I woke up to see a much more promising sunrise, so I got up to take this photo.
Isn´t that pretty? We are not particularly early risers, unless we have to get up for something special, so the dogs are used to being shut in until later, but that morning they got up as I went out to take the photo. They followed me into the yard, but I think they were still half asleep. they just flopped down at my feet and looked reproachfully at me, as much as to say, 'Why have you disturbed us at this hour?'
I thought the cloud was broken up enough to indicate a clear morning in an hour or so, and we wanted to make Tom´s last morning a bit special, so we took him down to his favourite sea-front restaurant in Mojacar, for breakfast. We parked the car on the edge of the sea and everything looked clean and sparkling.
The restaurant , Dolce Vita, has a big shaded patio at the side, and a few tables on a narrow strip of decking right on the beach. 
Of course we chose to sit there, even though the waitress warned us we might get too hot. It was hot, but we enjoyed the sun shine after all the rain. We also enjoyed a lovely breakfast - toasted seeded roll with tomato, avocado and white cheese for me. The others didn't consider that to be a man's breakfast, so they had egg and bacon etc!
Some little tame sparrows joined us to collect my crumbs.
After breakfast, Tom wanted one last dip in the sea. It was 'lively' with big waves and the currents are strong along there, so we warned him not to go too far. But he had a lovely time playing in the waves.

It looked fun and I'd have loved to join him, but I am not strong enough to swim in the sea when it is like that, so I just had a paddle at the edge. Once again the water was amazingly warm.
I did laugh at Chris. He had sat himself down on a rock to take a photo of Tom in the sea, when a big wave came from nowhere and soaked his shoes.
A few minutes later the sea had receeded again, and he sat there like King Canute, just daring it to come up again!
Time was getting on so we drove home, and by the time I had got in from the car and sorted myself out, Tom was back in our pool - 'Just one last dip mum!'.
This was taken just fifteen minutes before he had to leave for the airport! So he had a quick shower while I made a cup of tea, and then we had to say 'Good-bye'. But I know he had a good time, and we had enjoyed being with him.

Not a lot has happened for the rest of the week. I have done a bit of crafting, including making a set of eight Christmas cards, but I am saving them for the next Rudolph day Challenge on 25th.

I said last week that I had a couple of photos from the garden that I would save for this week, so here they are. Earlier this year we bought a baby bottle brush tree, and we were pleased when it recently produced some small brushes. Apparently the bees were pleased too, because we had several of these around it last week. They are not the usual honey bees, but ones with longer orange bodies, and blue-tipped wings.

Also, one day last week I saw what I thought was a leaf floating in the pool, so I fished it out with the net and found it was a praying mantis that had managed to drown itself, the silly thing. It has its wings open and they were so pretty. I don't think I have ever seen their wings before.
And just this morning, while I was writing this, Chris came to tell me we had some visitors at the pool, so I went out to see. And there, under the water, was a tiny frog! We don´t usually get these in the garden, and I was afraid that the pump would drag it into the drainage system and it would drown. So, of course, I had to rescue him, and he happily hopped away. I hope he got right away before the cats saw him. 
Then resting on the side of the pool, I saw this pretty red dragonfly. We get red and blue ones visiting us quite often at this time of year. They are smaller than the regular dragon flies. I think people call them darters. I think they are really lovely, and I am happy to see them darting around over the pool.
Before I went to UK I made all the cards I would need during the hottest months, when I don´t get much crafting done. One was a box card for my grandson who was nine today. His dad, our second son Mike, posted this photo of him holding it on facebook this morning. We always say that Finlay is proof that not only bad things happened on 9/11; there were some good things too, and his arrival was one of them.

Well that's it for this week. I'll leave you with a couple of scrapbook layouts that I made this week for my digi scrapbook of Ireland. One of the places we went to was a beach called Inchydoney, where Chris was taken as a child when he spent holidays with his grandmother in Clonakilty. It is a small beach at the end of a peninsula, which has Muckross Strand along one side of it, and Ring harbour on the other. So these pages are about the lovely time we spent there.

Now I just need to link up with Annie´s Friday Smiles. She won´t expect to see me yet as it is usually nearly midnight when I post, but we are going out this evening, so I have done it earlier.
I will also link with Rocking your World over at Virginia's blog. Come and join us and pick up on some more happy, positive vibes.