Hello my friends. Here I am smiling at you along with a bunch of my friends who are also smiling, so I hope you are smiling back.
This was taken at one of our 'Intercambio' sessions. There are four English people in this photo and five Spanish, but there were a few more of both at the other end of the table, and as you can see, we really enjoy our evenings together. The idea is that we speak in Spanish and our Spanish friends speak in English, but we are all on a learning curve so we help one another out. It is an excellent way to improve language skills and one I would highly recommend. Living in a mainly retired community, it is nice to have some younger people to chat with, and they bring in a youthful enthusiasm and fresh ideas.
(N:B: Several of the photos I have used this week, the one above, and some of the fiesta, are not mine. They were taken by friends and the Town Hall photographer).
The above group meet on a Tuesday evening, but we had an event in the village before that, because Saturday was San Isidro day. San Isidro is the patron Saint of agricultural workers, and is the second most important Saint for our village. The day starts with a mass in the church, and then everyone comes out to watch the statue of the saint being placed on a cart. He is surrounded by sheaves of grasses and baskets of fruit and other produce.
Everyone then starts out on a Romeria - literally a country walk - usually ending with a picnic. For this fiesta it is simply a walk out of the village and across the rambla, to the sports centre and designated picnic area along side it. It is not far, but can seem quite a way for little legs on a hot morning, so some of the children hitch a ride on the back of the cart.
Some of them dress up in traditional peasant/field workers clothes, of flowery skirts, embroidered blouses, pinafores and headscarves. Isn't this one a little cutie? When we first lived here, the cart was pulled by an old, very stubborn mule, and in later years a small tractor was used. This year it was a more modern white 4X4, but it got it up hill alright so that was all that mattered.
We went ahead and waited at the picnic site, and soon the little procession came along the road below us - the cart followed by the village band, and then a long line of villagers. The cart was parked in its usual spot, and everyone joined up with other family members who had also gone ahead to grab a table, or get a barbecue going.
Many of the children went to the football pitch for some 'children's olympic' style races, and they all looked to be having a whale of a time.
We took some chairs up, my days of perching on a brick wall are over! Soon we spotted some friends who came to join us, and our photo was taken by the official Town hall photographer for their Facebook page.
Apart from the seven of us we did not see any other non-Spanish people. It is very much a Spanish fiesta, but I think it is a shame that those who have chosen to live in this country, do not make more effort to join in with the local customs. (Our party is four English, two Welsh and one S.African!).
While everyone was busy chatting, catching up with family and friends, up beyond the sports centre, a small group of workers were preparing a Grand Paella. When I first went to look, it was simply a huge vat of rice, water and yellow spices, bubbling away over a fire.
But the next time I saw it, it had become this most traditional of all Spanish foods, a Paella, and it was so beautifully decorated to represent the flowers and produce of the land.
It was due to be served at 2.00, and they were ready almost on time, so at about that time a long line of people formed a queue. I joined the end of it, and it went down quite fast.
This is a free meal provided by the Town Hall, and is the best one of all the fiestas. There seemed to be a huge crowd waiting for some, but there was more than enough for everyone to have a generous portion. This lady had probably got one for herself and one for her husband, like I did. Men aren't so keen to do the queuing! I had to include her photo because she was wearing such a fabulous dress.
Here is my portion. Just look at that lucious gamba! It was huge.
By tea time we all drifted home for a late siesta before venturing out again at night. A stage is built at the top of our road, and from around midnight until the next morning, there is music, singing and dancing. We wandered up to see who was around, and then went home to bed.
With the warmer weather I am not very interested in food, and would happily not bother with meals some days, but I need to cook for Chris, and I know it is better for my diabetes to eat regularly, so when I have a day like yesterday, when cooking is just too much effort, I raid the freezer and find a complete meal for Chris, and I had a bowl of home-made pumpkin soup. Then we both tucked into this bowl of fruit salad. It was made from ten fruits all bought fresh from the market. Now that's my idea of a good meal! The remains (yes there were some, because I do have to limit my intake of fruit, even when I haven't had anything else sweet that day!), made a delicious smoothie for our tea tonight.
Summer has finally arrived here, with less wind, hardly any rain and higher temperatures. It has almost got up to 30º now, and I have removed the duvet from the bed, and started to wear summer dresses again. The flowers are all opening to the sunshine and yesterday I went down into the green zone behind our house to get a better view of some of them. So here is a picture of the back of our house, rarely seen or photographed, and if you ignore the rather tired, dried out almond and olive trees in the foreground, you can see the lovely oleander that grows behind our fence. I would love to encourage more of it to hang over our side, but every part of the plant is very poisonous, so we have to keep it out of the reach of our animals.
The window on the left is my craft room, where I am sitting now, and where I spend most of my time. It gets full sun in the afternoons, so sometimes it is too hot to be here in the summer. But for the rest of the year it is best possible place to work in. I zoomed in on the oleander and got this picture.
As you can see, it is covered in flowers. It is a particularly pretty one with double flowers that are almost like a camellia or a rose. But this still didn't do it justice, so when I got back I took a close-up of a bunch of flowers that is dangling over the top of our fence.
Isn't that just beautiful?
While I was in the green zone I also noticed that the pomegranate trees are full of flowers. They are such a surprising bright orange-red. The trees have been stripped by visiting herds of goats, dried out by the lack of water, and broken by the children who play down there, but still they bloom, and I am sure there will be a good harvest of fruit in the Autumn. You may remember I took my friend down to pick some when she was over in October.
But this is what I had really come round to see. It is a huge patch of Chumba or prickly pear. In this area, most of these plants have been wiped out by a tiny white fly that invaded in droves two summers ago. But for some reason, this one patch seems oblivious to their attack. It is growing down the bank behind our neighbours house, and I cannot get near enough to see it properly from my garden.
The little knot of plant at the top of the bank to the left, is all that remains of a second patch of chumba once the white flies had done their work, so it is amazing that this lot survives. And now it is coming into flower, it is beautiful,
The flowers only last for a day, but as you can see, there are masses of buds, so it will keep flowering for a while yet. Each flower opens from a red bud into a deep pink flower which gradually fades out to a peachy yellow. It is hard to see in my photos, but almost every flower has a bee in it.
Life continues to be busy but I have had time for a little craft work this week so I returned to the scrapbook layout I started a few weeks ago. It was inspired by one I saw on pinterest, so I set about drawing my own, using the graphics program Libre office.
It took me a while to turn the empty spaces into photomasks, but I got there in the end using a mixture of Corel and Adobe Photoshops. Then I tried it out with a collection of photos from Fitzgerald Park in Cork, from our holiday in Ireland four years ago! And here is my completed layout.
I have also managed a little more crochet. The next motif for my crochet-along was released on Tuesday. This time it is Frida's Rose.
It is very similar to the previous one, with an added dimensional flower in the centre. I need four of these, so I made one, just to see how it will look. I have joined the motifs I have made so far and it looks like this.
Now I am making the other three motifs in a production line. I find that easier when the colours change every round. The three little flowers in the centre are the start of my other motifs.
I had an interesting day today. I have been persuaded, mainly by the intercambio group, to get Whatsapp on my phone, so I let several family members who are on it, know. So today I had a couple of messages from them to say it was a 'good tool' to have. Then one of my sons rang me on Whatsapp. It was a lovely clear line and we had a good chat. Later another son rang me using his home phone and our landline. We had another good chat. Then a third son rang me using the wifi phone on messenger! Another good chat!! All this technology. There really isn't any excuse for not staying in touch is there?!
I think it is time to wind up with this week's sunset photo. Again I took this using my phone as I came out of choir practice on Wednesday. It was beautiful, and I would have loved to stay and watch it sinking away, but I knew I would be happier making it to the motorway before dark, so I set off for home, and watched the remnants of it in my car mirror.
Well done to anyone who is still with me! I am sorry this is a bit of a marathon, but make the most of it as I shall not be posting next week.
I will be UK for my brother's funeral, and I know I will not be in the right place to write a blog. However, even in this sad occasion there is a gentle smile, as I shall be spending a few days with my sister Jean, and will also see many family members who I have not seen for many years, and I am looking forward to that.
I leave on Wednesday and return on Monday, so I will visit as many of you as I can before I go.
Now I'm off to link with Rocking Your World, and Friday Smiles at A Stitch in Time. I'll see you all in a fortnight.