Friday, June 24, 2016

Rocking your world 2016: Week 26

Well here we are at the half way mark for the year - Week 26. In fact on Sunday it is our eldest son Jim's birthday, and I once worked out that 26th June is exactly half way between one Christmas Day and the next. So there is no getting away from it folks; we are now counting down to Christmas!

When we moved to Spain I made a determined effort to learn at least the basics of the Spanish language. It seems the only right and proper thing to do. And I am sometimes embarrassed by my own country folk when they sit in a bar and make sweeping statements about 'the Spanish', and just assume that none of the Spanish people around them can understand English! So when I saw this on Facebook this week, it made me smile, but there is a ring of truth about it as well. See what you think.

Well it has been a funny old week, shifting between days when I am so hot I can't lift a finger to do anything, to days when I have hidden indoors while our lovely pool gets muddied by the dust and leaves that are blowing into it, and other days when we have spent hours sitting outside, enjoying the sunshine and a gentle, slightly cooler breeze that keeps it comfortable.

We were all grateful on Saturday when the wind died down for the evening because we were going to party at our friends', Margie and Richard's house. It was to celebrate the birthdays of two of our mutual friends, and the evening had a 60's, 70's, 80's theme. We are not great fans of 'dressing-up' but I did weave myself a headband and found a kaftan to wear. Some folks just wore what they were comfortable in, and others went to great lengths to fit in with the theme. Here are a few of the colourful characters who were there.
Paola and Gus are Columbian and they run a local charity shop for PAWS animal shelter. These clothes happen to have come into the shop over the last few weeks so they bought them for the party, and they both looked great.
Howard, on the left in this photo, was one of the ones celebrating his birthday.
It was also Marg's 70th birthday. She is fairly new to the area, so we showed her how we celebrate out here. She had made herself a stiff, black lace petticoat to wear under this dress. Now that brings back a few memories.
I am not quite sure what to say about my friend Phil...? except that he was intent on having a good time.
We all enjoyed burgers and hot dogs from the barbecue, and then another friend, John, set up his karaoke gear. I somehow got coerced into singing with two friends, something I don't think I have ever done before....and probably shouldn't do again!
But our friends were very charitable. Look at the scores they gave us.
Needless to say, at some point someone started doing a conga around the pool.

Margie tried to take a photo of everyone who was there, but in the end she had to take it in two parts, so one evening this week I sat and played with them on my computer, and managed yo make one long picture, and I don't think I lost anyone from it.

On Tuesday evening I decided to give the Intercambio group a miss for once, as it was the International day of Music in Mojacar Pueblo, so Chris and I went up there instead. It was a very pleasant evening. There were plenty of folk around, local Spanish as well as several English holiday makers. Several bars had live musicians playing so we strolled around to have a listen. One patio outside a bar was shaded by this lovely tree.
It was very impressive. It always amuses me the way they prune these trees to have a hollow centre, but despite that, they do give a lot of shade.

This was probably the group we liked the best. They sat on some steps and played a variety of traditional folk instruments, and sang.
They had a group of dancers with them. I wish I could play the castanets like this young man could.
Then we moved on to another plaza where this man was playing and singing. He was Spanish but he sang all his songs in English, and he was very good.
We sat and had some 'refreshments' while we listened to him.
When he finished his set, he was replaced by a large group who played more upbeat numbers. The man in the white shirt was very good on the bongo drums. (You can just see him squatting down in front of the guitarist).
It was getting dark by the time we got to the big patio at the top of the village. This girl was singing and her partner played the saxophone, and other instruments. They were only visible as a silhouette against the dusky sky.
Tuesday was , of course, the summer solstice and this was a special year as it was also a full moon, which is a rare occurrence; the next one is expected in June 2065. I wanted to try and take a photo of it, so when we got home from the music evening I went outside with my camera, but in almost every shot I got the moon and some sort of reflection beside it. it is not quite what I intended, but it's still kind of cute. I think this was my best attempt.

Well the rest of the week has been spent having long siestas, reading a little, crafting a little more, and crocheting quite a lot more. I made a card this week ready for my eldest sister's birthday next week, and when I got out a glue stick to fix the insert in with, I was taken back to find it had melted! What a goey mess. I don't think that has ever happened to me before.
Last week I had such a long post so I didn't include a picture of the latest motif for my Frida's flowers blanket, so here it is.

It is called Ring of Roses, and this time I needed to make six of them. It was the most challenging one so far, but I took my time and managed it in the end. The bit that seems to have caused the most trouble, is the ring of bullion knots stitched around the centre. Several people on the web page gave up, and used long beads instead. I had to undo mine a few times, but I watched some helpful videos, and in the end I got them right - not perfect but good enough. I worked on all six motifs together, because once I have mastered the stitches for a round, it makes sense to do it six times, and then learn the next round. So now they have been worked together and put in place in my blanket, and here it is so far. There are still a few ends trailing, but I'll soon sew them in, and it will look better when it is finished and pulled into shape.
Next Tuesday we will get the pattern for the last motif. I will need five of them, two on each side and one in the centre. Then a fortnight after that will be the last part which will be about making the edging. I have already been asked if I will sell it, but I haven't said yes or no yet. For me the pleasure is in the making of it, and the success when I learn a new technique, and there is a limit to how many such blankets I can make use of.
As I had some time to spare before the next part is published, I spent yesterday sorting out my wool stash. I tend to stick with Stylecraft Special DK, an acrylic yarn that comes in an amazing 82 colours. It is sometimes hard to chose which ones will work well together, just from the colour swatch on the internet site where I buy it, so I have made a colour peg of each one that I have, and I can now play around with them to make the best combinations.
I have 47 colours (so far!), so there are another 27 to get, as well as eight marled colours (two tones twisted together), but I may not add those to my collection as I am not so keen on that effect.

So that just about sums it up for this week. There were a few other highlights like a call from our middle son to ask if he could come out for a fortnight in August. Of course I said he could. Even if I had other visitors booked, I would always find a space for one of our boys.
Tonight we went to the little theatre in Zugena for a technical rehearsal for our choir's summer concerts there, tomorrow and Sunday. Both sessions are a complete sellout and we are really looking forward to them. We just did seating arrangements, sound checks etc tonight, and saved our voices for tomorrow.
I have one pretty sky to leave with you and then I will pop over and link this up with Rocking Your World, and Annie's Friday Smiles. Why not follow me there. Annie has a cute new puppy, Millie, to introduce to us.

I have deliberately kept away from the topic of the referendum today. I think the country needs a while to come to terms with the result and wait to see what the effect of it is. But a line from a book I read many years ago, came almost unbidden to my mind this evening, and this is what I posted on Facebook just now. 
"Many years ago I read the book by Alan Paton called Cry the Beloved Country, first published in 1948. I know I enjoyed it at the time, though I can't honestly say I remember too much about it now, but the opening line has stuck in my mind ever since. "Cry the beloved country for the unborn child that is the inheritor of our fear". It is written about Africa, but I can't help but wonder what inheritance we are leaving for our unborn children in UK."
I'll leave you to ponder on that, and I'll see you all again next week.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Rocking Your World 2016; Week 25

Hi again folks. I warn you now this post is a bit photo heavy but I will start with my smile which is this.

I am smiling because it is a photo of Jonathan, our son number four, playing his drums at the Eindhoven Psych lab festival in Holland last week. I don't pretend to particularly like or understand his style of music, but it makes me smile to see him play. He looks so fierce at times, but he puts his heart and soul into it, and he was so thrilled when his band was invited to play at this festival.
It makes a change for me to feature him rather than his younger brother Ben, whose own compositions, and covers of power ballads, I can relate to. He came home from work this week to hear the news of the tragedy in Orlando, and straight way sat down to write a song as a tribute to the fallen there. He always turns to his music to express his feelings, and it might not be the best song he has ever written, but I love the fact that he cared enough to write it. I can't share it here as he has only uploaded it to Facebook and not youtube, so not everyone can access it.

Well we have had quite a week here. The temperature has hit a high for June with the thermometer on our shady porch, showing almost 40º on Monday. Add to that a strong wind that felt like the air steam from a hot hair-dryer, and you can tell that it was more comfortable staying indoors on that day. Most other days it has been well into the thirties, but I can cope with that. I am not keen on hot wind though!
We do stay in on the worst afternoons but there have been a few events to take us out too, starting with last Saturday. The nearby town of Mojacar had its annual Moors and Christians Fiesta. We have been to the main acting and parades up in the pueblo on other years, but we have never been to see the horses down on the beach, so this year I managed to prise Chris away from the football for a while and we drove down to Mojacar Playa. Needless to say nothing happened until at least an hour after the advertised time, but you come to expect that in Spain, in fact it can really catch you out when something actually starts on time!! However, there are plenty of beach bars where you can sit and wait, and eventually various groups of girls in elaborate costumes started to arrive.

The clothes are amazing but I am glad I didn't have to wear them under the relentless sun.
Then a group of horses that had been mustering to our left, started walking along the beach in front of our bar, and on to the far side of a metal gantry that had been set up in front of a small platform with rows of chairs on it. The horses where all shapes, sizes and colours, and they stepped carefully across the hot sand.

They were all beautiful beasts but this one was my favourite.

When they arrived at the area marked off with plastic tape, the riders donned their costumes and walked the horses around to keep them settled. We were able to walk among them and take photos.

Then the 'jousting' began. A wire was stretched across the gantry, and on it were wound lots of coloured sashes with a loop at the end. The horses took it in turns to gallop under the wire as their riders tried to catch a loop with a long wooden pole. If they caught one, then one of the girls, who were now sitting on the rows of shaded seats, tied it around the man's arm and off he went to try again. 

We watched the men who were dressed to represent the Moors. Then it was the turn of the Christians, but by then we had had enough sun, and we decided to go home to cool down and see the next football match!

Also on Saturday, in the morning, I met up with my friend Cati for coffee, and then we went to a local shop to buy some equipment for the speech therapist to use with the children of ASADIS.
The money for these items was part of the donation made by a group of lady bowlers. I posted a few weeks ago about our visit to the school to take them the main items, and I agreed to look after the balance of their donation while the staff chose suitable items for the classroom and the therapist. As Cati was unable to go to the therapy session this week, I then agreed to go there on Monday and give the books and games to her. It was Jose Antonio's session with the therapist when I got there, and he was eager to see what was inside the boxes.

On Wednesday I went to my sewing group as usual but I came home early so that we could drive over to Palamares to collect a second-hand barbecue that we had bought through a local internet sale page. It is big and robust, and we are going to enjoy using it. Fortunately the man selling it had warned me that it was too big to go in our car and we would need two men to lift it, so I was very grateful to our friend Phil, who agreed to come with us with his courier van. Between them, Chris and Phil got it into the van and home safely.

Then in the evening we had a choir practice. It was important to be there as there are only two more before our big summer concerts. It was very windy and I didn't enjoy the drive to get there. We saw a small van get blown off the road, and I could feel my car being pushed out of its lane. I was grateful that I had just filled the tank with diesel, which gave it a bit more weight and stability. I'm glad it has calmed down a bit since then.

Thursday was another big day as it started with my long awaited hospital appointment for the problems I have with my arms. I set out at 8.30 as I was picking up a friend to translate for me on the way. (I could have told him most of what I wanted to, but I couldn't be sure I would understand what he said to me, so for something as important as that, it was worth taking a translator along). As the sun was rising we noticed an interesting pattern of clouds in the sky. They seemed to be in separate strips, all funnelling into one. I took a quick photo of them before we went on to the hospital.
We were there all morning, but in one visit I saw the consultant, had an X-ray, saw the consultant again and had a chat with him, had a cortizone injection in my shoulder, and was given a prescription for analgesia, and an appointment with the physiotherapist. I was sure the problem was caused by tearing muscles which resulted in major surgery for me twelve years ago, so I was surprised when he said it was not muscular, but I have severe degenerative arthritis in my right shoulder and moderate in the left. So not wonderful news but at least he took me seriously and did what he could for me, and you can't fault the service which was excellent. So I guess I keep taking the pills and rattle along doing what I can, and leaving what I can't!

I was glad to get home by lunchtime, because that afternoon I was on the fund-raising committee that had organised an "Ascot Ladies Day" to raise funds for our church. The clouds had all gone by then, but it was hot and unfortunately too windy to keep up any parasols, but we managed. It was a wonderful afternoon and everyone who came really enjoyed it. It was good to see lots of 'non-church' people there too. Everyone joined in with the spirit of the occasion, with the men looking smart, and the ladies in their 'posh frocks' with hats or fascinators to match.
It was held alongside the church, and the railings had been decked with flags and bunting.
Each of the committee members had a job to do.
Sylvia looked after the lucky dip for the children. She found a shady corner to sit in!
Three gentlemen looked after the Royal Enclosure where cava and canapés, beer and wine could be purchased. Sadly we had to abandon the idea of their pergola for shade.
No-one got through the door passed Dudley, without buying a raffle ticket!
Margie and Chris were heading up the catering team who prepared and served the sandwiches and cakes that were a part of the entry ticket.
Honest Al and his helper Jasmine took the bets (one euro only allowed) for each race.
Chris and I look like we are just enjoying the sunshine here, but we were ready at our table to pay out on all the winning tickets at the end of each race.
The whole idea for the day was down to Di who did an excellent job of organising it all, and carefully explained to everyone how the races would work. I love the names she thought up for each one.
We needed six 'horses' for each race so we encouraged the children to be these, though some of the adults enjoyed having a go too, (and they were equally as excited as the children when they  won one of the winners rosettes I had made for them). There were plenty of helpers on hand to get them ready at the starting gate.
Each had a number and they moved forward one floor tile each time their number was rolled on a dice. It kept things moving quite quickly, and was a lot of fun.
Here are a few our guests. Some pretty ladies trying to find some shade from the surrounding shrubs.
My friends Sue and Keith showing us what this dressing-up lark is all about.

Jean is the oldest, and a much-loved member of the church. Didn't she just look the part! I believe she is eighty- eight now, and she is one lovely lady.
The whole afternoon was a great success, and I am sure on Sunday we will hear how much we raised. The funds will be useful but the real aim was to show the local community that we are an active and lively church, and I think we managed to do that very well. (Disclaimer - some of these photos are my own, but most were taken by our 'Press Photographer', a friend who gave me permission to use them here).

We got back home at around 7.00, so the dogs were getting anxious about their tea. I quickly fed them and made a cup of tea, and then I promptly fell asleep for the next three hours! Amazingly I still slept when I finally got to bed, so I must have needed it.

I think that is about it for this week. I do have some pretty, tranquil sky photos to close with, taken early on Monday evening, when the wind had whipped up a few clouds - but only very little ones.

That's a nice peaceful ending isn't it? Now I will link up with Annie's Friday Smiles, and Rocking Your World. Keep smiling everyone, and have a good week.