Wow. Here we go again. It sounds daft with all the Christmas festivities to keep me busy, but I missed our little get-together last Friday. And, of course, that means I have two weeks worth of news to share today.
But first let me wish you, all my lovely followers, a really Happy New Year. Do try to join in sometimes by writing a post about what has rocked your world that week. It is very therapeutic, to actively search for the positives in even the hardest week. There is always something to be grateful for.
My smile this week is this photo of me with my grandson Mikey, who came out to spend his Christmas with us in Spain. He was twenty-one just the week before, so hopefully he has stopped growing now. This visit he was head and shoulders above me!
It was lovely to have some young company in the house. He came for a break, to rest, as he works as a landscape gardener, digging and building rather than dealing with plants, so he was happy to relax in the sun. And the sun was good to him, and came out to say 'hello' every day. I am sure we have never had such a sunny December and as there was no sign of the fierce, cold winds that we usually get around now, it was warm enough to sit outside at some time every day. Of course, the minute the sun dropped down behind the hills, it was quite cold, and we happily sat around the fire, warm and cosy, but you don't mind that when you have been outside all day.
We did manage a few little outings, like the day we walked along the new promenade at Mojacar beach. We went right to the end, sat on the wall to rest a bit, and then walked back, stopping for a drink and snacks on the way.
Despite the nice weather it was very quiet down there. I think a lot of the English folk had gone back to UK for the holiday, and many others go to Benidorm for a few days. A whole fleet of coaches leave from Mojacar, bound for Benidorm, each Christmas, but even if we didn't have the dogs, it wouldn't appeal to us at all. We like our quiet beaches, with the palm trees waving and the sun reflecting off the white buildings.
On Christmas Eve we thought a bit of exercise would be a good idea so Mikey and I went up the hill at Vera to the Jesus statue again. It was a clear morning and the view was amazing. I spent a long time pointing out landmarks to Mikey and then he managed this rather clever selfie. I like the way Jesus is looking over his shoulder.
That evening we went to midnight mass at our mother church in Mojacar. There wasn't one at our own church, but the Mojacar one was an easier drive on a dark night anyway. It is a service I always loved going to in UK, but this was the first time I have been since coming to Spain. The church is tiny with little extra facilities so they set up a trestle table out in the courtyard, and after the service we went there for mulled wine and mince-pies before driving home. It was still relatively warm and dry, so we were able to stand around chatting for a while even though it was by then, Christmas morning.
The next morning we got up to bright sunshine and took our cups of tea outside for the obligatory Christmas morning photo to post on facebook for our family and friends.
Then Mikey joined us for a self-take one to make all his friends jealous.
They looked so un-Christmassy that we went inside and took another one next to our tree!
I believe you are never to old to enjoy a Christmas stocking, so I had done one each for Mikey and Chris. So there were lots of smiles as they unwrapped the little parcels.
Then it was time to give the dogs their special treat. I had bought a huge pigs ear for each of them. Sounds revolting doesn't it, but the ears are baked crispy, and the dogs absolutely love them.
Just look at that eager expectation in their eyes.
Foxy took hers straight behind the big plant pots, where she knew she was safe and could defend hers if anyone tried to steal it.
As usual, Kim carried his round and round the garden before finally settling for a corner of the patio to eat it.
By the time I had finished following him around, Mikey's was long gone. She has the strongest jaws and it never takes her long to munch through a treat of any kind.
Soon it was time to drive to the nearby restaurant where were having our dinner. We met up with our friends in the bar, and soon we were all sitting round a square made up of four tables. There were sixteen of us altogether and we wanted to sit so we could all talk to anyone else, and they had done their best to arrange it for us.
It was good to see Mikey and his Grandad chatting and sharing a few jokes together.
We stayed there until gone 5.00 and as we went out to the car it seemed strange to still find the sun shining. The view from the restaurant of the distant mountains was beautiful.
On Boxing Day (a normal day out here), we wanted to walk off some of the previous day's overindulgence, so in the afternoon we took the dogs over the campo for a run. We use the car for the first bit as it is just too far to them to walk all the way there and back, and have a good run when we get there, and I love to see them enjoying their run. So Kim and Mikey go in the back section of the car, and Foxy on the back seat, all strapped in with car harnesses so they are quite safe. Mikey thought they looked so funny and he took this photo of them.
Do they look excited, or what?!
On Sunday we went to the morning church service and went home to a roast beef dinner. I have never been very good at making Yorkshire puddings but I had seen a Jamie Oliver recipe on the internet that I wanted to try. It was amazing. Impressive eh?
On Monday it was time for Mikey to go home so we drove him to the airport. He is a good lad, and always pays the slightly higher airfare in order to fly to Almeria airport. It is only a half hour's drive from there to home, compared with nearly an hour and a half to Murcia and over two hours to Alicante. (There are not many flights to this part of Spain, especially during the winter, so sometimes the family have no choice which one they fly to, but fortunately there was a Manchester to Almeria flight that suited Mikey well).
Almeria mostly handles internal flights, and many of the larger UK companies no longer use it. We have been told that the landing fees there are too high. So we knew it wouldn't be too busy on a Monday morning, but the whole place was almost deserted.
You almost felt like you were trespassing! But their security was high, and we saw police with sniffer dogs, and Mikey was thoroughly searched before we could wave him goodbye as he went through the barriers.
The rest of this week has passed quietly. I have done a little clearing and cleaning, but I will do it more thoroughly when the Christmas decorations come down after Three Kings Day.
We have continued to enjoy some lovely weather and each afternoon I have sat outside with my crochet and some music or audio files. Chris has downloaded the whole set of Harry Potter books as audio books for me, and I am enjoying listening to Steven Fry reading to me as I crochet. My boys have read all the books and seen the films, so I thought I would catch up with them, and I must say, it is quite a good yarn! And while listening I have caught up with my blanket making, and am on the final square.
I have had long chats on Skype with each of our boys, even Jonathan who is currently having a wonderful holiday in Canada with his partner and her family. While they were there, they announced their engagement so we are really happy for them, and I am looking forward to another family wedding eventually, (probably summer 2017!).
One day we had a couple of parcels and several late cards all delivered together. We are used to this now as our post office often closes several days before Christmas, and the last mail accumulates until they decide to open up again! Two parcels were craft items I had bought in the sales, so I have some more new stash to play with now.
I saw a lovely scrapbook layout on Pinterest this week, but I was not able to trace it back to it source, to ask whether the template was available to buy, so I decided to try and design something similar myself. I was getting there slowly but then Chris, who knows a lot more about the computer than I do, even though he doesn't use the same sort of programs as me, suggested that I try again in a new graphics program, called libreoffice_draw. I wasn't keen to try to learn yet another new system, but he helped me with getting started and it proved fairly straight forward to draw the template. Then I had to use a combination of Adobe photoshop, Corel and Gimp to get it into a format I could use for digital scrapbooking. I also made a Studio file so I can cut it on my Silhouette cameo for a manual layout. So I was really happy that I had acheived that. There is still a lot for me learn, but it is very satisfying to be able to do it.
We had a quiet New Year's Eve at home, with the TV on, the fire to keep us warm, and the dogs all laid out around our feet. I have to admit I was dozing when it reached midnight in Spain and Chris had to wake me up! but I was awake an hour later to toast the incoming year in UK, and to hear Big Ben chiming midnight. Then we watched the fireworks in London, and went to bed.
Now it is New Year's Day, and 2016 arrived with another beautiful dawn. I sat outside with my morning cup of tea and soaked up the peacefulness of our little village, shining in the sun.
When the dogs had finished their breakfast they obligingly posed for a group photo.
I turned around and saw Tango hiding behind the flower pots. He is not a fan of the camera! This shot reminded me of one I took of my grey persian Baggins, just before he died.
I am sorry I have rambled on for so long today. January and February are usually quite quiet months, so I don't suppose I will be writing another long post for a while.
Of course I have a couple of sky photos to leave you with. I missed the very best sunset which was last night, as I was having a marathon Skype session with three of my boys, and that is more important than taking photos, but I watched it through my window as I talked with them and it was rather special. But here are a couple taken on different evenings this week.
Right then. I'm off to link up with Virginia at Celtic House. I don't think Annie has done a Friday Smiles today, but I hope I have still made a few of you smile.
Here's wishing you all a Positive, Peaceful and Healthy 2016.