I am sorry I was absent last week, but now I am back on home ground, so I'll do a quick catch-up on the last fortnight.
My smile this week is the next motif for my Frida's Flowers CAL. This pattern was released on Tuesday, so, of course, I had to get one made so I could see what it was like. It is called the 'Heart Rose', and I think it is the best one so far.
Because I am joining up as I go, this is already attached to the previous motifs. Now I am doing the other three as a production line, and I am up to the outer flower ring already, so they will soon be done, and I will have time to work on my other projects before the next part is published on 14th June.
Before I left for UK we had a little drama here. I had been clearing my larder out, and had a bundle of empty plastic bottles for recycling, so I walked down the road to the bin with them, and on the way back I noticed a small plume of smoke rising from the green zone behind our house. Once home we had a look over the back railings, and as we couldn't see anyone, nor hear any voices, Chris walked round and found an old armchair had been set alight, but there was no-one around keeping an eye on it. I am always worried about fire down there because the area is full of dead trees, plus broken pallets and other rubbish, and it is all so dry that even a small fire could soon take over. Then we heard the crackling of flames so I decided to phone the bomberos. I will always have a go at speaking to people in Spanish now, but on the phone it is much more difficult, but I managed to make myself understood, and before long a small fire truck arrived and the fire was extinguished.
I was so grateful that I was home at the time, and caught sight of it before it had time to spread and do any real damage.
The reason I had an unplanned visit to UK, was so that I could attend the funeral of my brother. He was approaching his 87th birthday, but I was grateful to hear that, although he was suffering from cancer, he passed away peacefully in his sleep, having spent his final few weeks in a lovely nursing home, where he was well cared for.
Of course funerals are not the happiest of occasions, but as so often is the case, this was an opportunity to meet up with family members, many of whom I had never met before. My brother was a frequent visitor to my house back when our mum was living with us, as were my other brothers and sisters, but he lived too far away for us to see him often after that, and his family were grown up and had moved to various corners of the country. So it was a real pleasure to meet his five children, in the photo below, along with his many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Although the names of his children were well known to us, it was only his eldest daughter Margaret that I had really spent much time with before.
It was especially nice to meet up with his second daughter, Kathleen Jean, who was named after my sister and I. I was twelve when she was born and I remember being so 'chuffed' that he had chosen to give her my name! She remains Kathleen Sargent, which was my name before I was married.
As well as two brothers, I also had five sisters, but as Jean and I were the only two born after the war, the rest are now all in their eighties, so it was quite an achievement that the five remaining sisters all made it to the funeral too. Here we are, enjoying a chat together.
Because it had proved very difficult to get flights at the right time to the right place, I ended up flying to Jean in Bournemouth, and we travelled to the funeral in Slough by train. My youngest son, Ben, was free that day so he came down from Birmingham by train and met up with us there, which was an added bonus.
Jean and I got back home by early evening, and I was just in time to take a photo of the sun setting at the front of her house.
Such a lovely peachy pink colour in the sky.
Once again I seem to have taken a bit of Spanish sunshine over in my case, because the weather was lovely all through my visit. I had the choice of flying back home at "silly o'clock" the next morning but that seemed a bit too much of a rush, and the next flight wasn't until Monday, so I had a few days with Jean which was nice. We fitted in a visit to our sister who lives a short distance from her, some clothes shopping and a trip to Hobbycraft, but I had to be very careful what I bought as I only had hand luggage to pack it in to. I must say I found the big supermarket near her house rather frightening! I couldn't get over the range of choices for just about everything. I have obviously forgotten what it is like but I don't think it was quite so mad when I moved away some eight years ago. Now I am used to our small supermarkets where there are only a couple of alternatives for most things, and no choice at all for others. I found it restrictive at first, but now it is actually liberating, and makes shopping much more straightforward.
On Sunday I asked Jean if there was time to walk across the common that starts right across the road from her house. It was another lovely morning and we had such a nice walk. The common, Bourne Valley, is huge, with everything from leafy paths through a wonderful mix of trees, to wide open fields and fishing ponds. I loved the variety of flowers that were in bloom, from the yellow buttercups and flag irises, to the pink campion and the mauve rhododendrons that grow like weeds across Dorset. We are so used to brown earth all year around, and only stunted shrubs and a few pine trees, so it was wonderful to see the green everywhere and I had to stop every few minutes to record some thing else. Here are just a few of the photos I took.
Sorry if that was a bit of a photo overload, but I was enjoying it so much, and just wanted to share it.
As we came off the common, we walked down to the end of the road where there is a small weir, built as part of a flood relief system. The water was rushing down at great speed, but as it levelled off, there was a calmer pool formed by the stones, and a mass of fish were sun-bathing in its shallow water. They had to fight to hold their place as the current was trying to wash them under the bridge and into the shadier water on the other side of the road.
That night I was too late to catch the sun setting in front of Jean's house, but I did get the pretty sky before the light was gone.
I was grateful to Jean and her husband Ron, for getting me to the airport at 4.30 am on Monday morning! We had all only had about three hours sleep, so I hope they got a bit more when they got back home. I am not very keen on flying, especially on my own, but it was quite a good flight and I passed some time trying to take photos out of the window, with my phone. It was quite clear, and rather lovely as we flew over the snow-capped mountains.
It was lovely to step out of Arrivals and find Chris waiting for me, and of course, I also had a very noisy and warm welcome from the dogs when we got home. Chris then took me down the road for a quick meal and I managed to get a few hours sleep before we were off out again to Albox. My choir had the honour of being asked to perform on the opening night of the Albox week of music. We were singing in a big church that was a very strange mix of traditional and modern. Seats were reserved for us at the side of the altar, but the rest of the church was full. Here we are sitting chatting while we waited for things to get started. Things move at a leisurely pace here, so you have to have patience!
This photo shows our little group of altos and also some of the men. I included it because this one that Chris took of us during our performance, makes it look as though we are nearly all women, when we actually have a very strong men's section too.
We are all looking a bit dazed because this was our first proper public performance, and we were given a standing ovation. Very gratifying!
(There are some very modern angels in the fresco behind us aren't there?).
The whole concert was a great success and we had lots of very positive feedback afterwards.
When it was over, the concert organiser, and the town mayor, invited us to the pensioners club across the road for a drink, so most of us trouped across. I was debating whether or not to go straight home as my early morning start was catching up on me, but I was so glad we stayed. When we got in there we found a long table set up with plates and glasses, that ran the whole length of the room. We all sat down, the choir, our partners and friends, the town dignitaries etc, and soon the bar staff came out with bottles of water, jugs of beer and jugs of a very nice sangria. (My nice husband said he would drive home so I was able to enjoy the sangria!! Another little extra grateful). Then the food started to arrive, plates of salad first, followed by meat in sauce, fish in sauce, baked potatoes, calamaries, tuna pastries, bread and allioli, and much more. We couldn't believe it as another and yet another dish arrived, and there was more than enough of each one for everyone to try. The chatter was lively up and down the table. It was so unexpected and a really good way to end a lovely evening.
I am glad to say the rest of the week has been fairly routine, so the washing has all been done, the larder restocked, and my new flowers crocheted!
So now I will close with two more little things that make me happy. This is my first motif for another crochet project. I just love the colours.
I wanted to take something to do in the evenings at Jean's, so I was really happy when the wool for this project arrived the day before I went. I had, had the pattern for a few weeks but had only just ordered the wool, and it came really quickly. The pattern is for a blanket called Persian Tiles, and I want to make it twice as big as the pattern says, so it will cover our orange bed settee in the spare room. I made this one while I was at Jean's, and on the last evening I started another one. But when I got it out at home, I thought it was a bit 'wavy' and when I counted, I had made nine repeats of the pattern instead of eight, so I have some unpicking to do!!
I loved the motif when I saw it on the internet and the colours reminded me of our tiles which are on the risers of the all the outside steps. Moroccan influence rather than Persian, but the colours are right.
The other thing I have been doing that I am quite pleased with, is a little bit of photo editing. Our other brother, John, sadly passed away back in 1995, and I have very few photos of him, but while I was at my sister Dorothy's house, I saw this photo in a frame. I only had my phone with me but I took a few shots of it, none of which were very good because of the light reflecting off the glass, and my shadow on it, but I spent some time on it using my graphics program, and I am quite pleased with the result. I know Dorothy reads my blog, and I wanted her see how well it had turned out.
Now I will link up to Annie's Friday Smiles and Rocking Your World, and hopefully I will see you all again next week.