Friday, September 30, 2016

Rocking Your World 2016: Week 40

I just love this photo of my gorgeous great-grandson. When his mum sent it to me, it was titled "It's time to pick apples again". One of the real joys of Autumn. I am pretty sure he is in a tree at his Grandma's house, and it reminded me of when my three younger boys were little. They loved to climb the tree in their Nan's garden, to pick the apples too.

Isaac looks so happy in this shot, and his  green jumper is just perfect to go with his fiery hair, and it tones with the leaves, making a lovely picture, and, of course, making me smile.

It is a good thing you all know me well by now, because this post is a bit 'sky heavy' when it comes to photos. I just can't help myself!

But first to Saturday, which was windy but warm, and in the afternoon we went down to the seafront in Mojacar for my friend's eightieth birthday. Joan is elderly and quite frail, but she comes to our craft group every Wednesday morning, and still does lovely knitting. She enjoys seeing her friends there as she doesn't get out a lot these days. A couple of weeks ago she was really happy when she told us that it was almost her eightieth birthday (we all knew really), and her daughter was arranging an afternoon tea-party for her and her friends. "She couldn't have picked anything better for me" was what she said. It was held at a fairly new café/restaurant along the playa, run by an English lady who is renowned for making lovely cakes. Joan is still a deacon at the Evangelical church in Turre so a lot of her church friends were there, as well as her crafting friends, and of course, her family. We filled the area outside the café, and even the Chinese people from the bazaar next-door, kept popping in and out to see what was going on.

This is just a few of the guests enjoying the lovely buffet that was provided. Then Joan's daughter brought out a big cake with candles shaped like the number 80. Joan stood in the middle enjoying all the fuss and attention.
When she started to look tired, we all left so she could go home and rest.

On the way home I dropped Chris off at a bar in Turre where he had arranged to meet a friend to watch football, but he was home again by mid-evening and we decided to walk around to our local bar for a quick drink. I said I wanted to be home to watch Casualty. I have watched it almost from its first episode, and I rarely miss it, but by the time we had had a brandy apiece, I knew I'd be calling on i-player to see this week's part! It was a mild evening, and it was very pleasant to sit and chat, and watch the stars that were so bright that night.
As we were emptying our glasses ready to leave, a friend turned up, so of course one thing led to another, and it was mid-night by the time we left. He had a Spanish friend with him, so I spent the rest of the evening practising my Spanish on him, and trying hard to understand what he said to me. He was very patient with me, and we managed very well.

The forecast was not so good for this week, and the mornings are getting darker anyway, so Monday saw us leave the house on our dog-walk, almost in darkness. There was a layer of cloud on the horizon, and I wasn't sure whether the sun would break through, but it did in the end, lighting up a lovely turquoise sky.
When we got home it did rain a little, but not enough to do any good. It was just enough to leave a fine layer of red dust on the outside table and chairs, and all the window sills! 'Dirty rain' is something we have had to get used to out here.

We were hoping Tuesday would stay dry because it was the funeral of a good friend from the village. And it obliged us by staying dry all day. The service was held in the village Catholic church, but it was led by a Church Army officer who takes some of the services at my church. The little church was packed, with people standing at the back, and it was a lovely tribute to a well loved man. Afterwards we all went to a hostal on the edge of Turre for a "celebration of his life". His wife wanted music, and dancing because that is what he loved. 
The tables were dressed with pale blue cloths and serviettes - his favourite colour, and there was lots of chatter, laughter and singing. They provided an excellent hot buffet, and all in all, I think we gave him the sort of send-off that he would thoroughly have approved of.
I was busy chatting to a photographer friend when I happened to glance out the window. So he quite understood when I said, "Please excuse me for a minute. I have to take a photo of that sky". I was almost too late, and by the time I had weaved through the crowd to the door, the sun had already sunk lower, but I did get this shot. It is lovely, but it doesn't really do it justice.

My youngest son Ben knows me well. He is a conductor on the trains, and as I was taking the photo above, he e-mailed me one he had just taken from the back of his train, of the sunset in Redditch. It is kind of nice to know we are all one under the same sky.

On Wednesday my forecast showed a high chance of rain, and strong winds late afternoon, so I wasn't looking forward to driving to choir practice. Some parts of the motorway are quite exposed, and I hate driving along it when it is too windy. But it must have been blowing in a different direction from usual, because I bowled along with no trouble. I had my eye on the sun going down, because there were clouds rolling in from all around, so I thought the chance of rain was probably right. But when I arrived at our practice room, the clouds were still broken up enough for the sun to penetrate in places, lighting up the valleys below, and I got this picture which I love. Do click on it for a larger picture which shows up the rays much better.

We had an excellent practice. It is good to have our musical director back after a stay in UK, and we whizzed through all our new Christmas music. We have a lot to learn, and not much time to learn it in!

Well what a difference a day makes. On Thursday we woke up to the sound of torrential rain battering the plants and bouncing off the pool. And of course, when it rains heavily like that, it also spouts from all the corners of the roof because we have no guttering. The dogs didn't get their morning walk and had to make do with runs around the yard each time the rain stopped.
We were happy to see some rain at last and even the ground was grateful. You could almost hear it drinking it up, and it rained for long enough for some to sink in. The first lot just rolls off the top, but if it keeps going, some does get absorbed. The little birds got really excited by it, and when it stopped I could hear them singing and chattering all around us.
But the timing was not good as we had arranged for a friend who is an electrician, to come that morning to renew all our outside sockets, and fit some extra ones in the porch. He phoned to say he would wait and see how it developed. We thought it was set in for the day, but by the time we had had breakfast and cleared up around the house, the sky looked like this.
Gradually the black clouds did roll away, and Tony did come and do the sockets. So we are grateful to him, and it makes it a lot easier to be able to plug in our appliances when they need charging, and also to have the water feature switched on without needing an extension cable from one of the bedrooms.

Brian and Barbara who run the charity I send my knitting for Africa to, are both in their eightieth year, and I knew they were scaling things down, but they had asked me not to say anything until an official letter was released. Well this week I got the official letter, and amongst other things it said that they would stop taking knitted items from the end of November. Panic!! 
I have people knitting for me all over this area, and I have no idea how I am going to get a message to all of them. However it is in the church newsletter this week, and I have told the Wednesday group, and asked people to tell their friends etc. Plus I also knew I had a lot of loose, knitted squares that needed sewing into blankets. 
Then I learned that my courier friend is also retiring and his last 'official' trip to UK is mid-October, so now I had even less time to get everything finished off, and collected together.
So I spent one day sorting out all my bags and boxes, and making piles of squares for blankets. And everyone has been absolutely wonderful. One friend at church took enough squares to make a whole blanket and said she would crochet the edging too. Another took some small pieces of crochet that needed several more rounds to make them large enough, and she has finished those ready to return to me on Sunday. At the Wednesday group, one lady took home two completed blankets to crochet edgings on them, and others took bags of squares to sew into strips, so next week I will just need to join the strips and do the borders. Meanwhile I have been sorting out all the oddments - both crocheted and knitted pieces of all shapes and sizes, and patchworking them to make a blanket. That is finished and edged. It is a bit odd but it will keep someone warm. So yesterday I spent all day watching the men working out in the porch while I stitched the last squares together, and now that is edged too, so I think I will have everything done and ready for Phil to take across to UK.

I can't begin to describe how grateful I am to everyone who has knitted for me over the past five years. Their generosity in giving time and materials has amazed me. I am looking forward to having a bit more time to work on my own projects, but I shall continue to support the amazing work of Greenfields Africa financially, by making things to sell etc, and for another year or so we will still be supporting the boy we sponsor for his education through the charity.

Of course the cats aren't used to the floor being wet outside and they don't like it, so I had some help with my blanket making!
Tango is such a funny cat. He makes himself comfortable just anywhere. Here he is suspended across me and and across a gap to the arm of the chair, completely oblivious to the fact I am trying to turn the blanket around as I work on it.
Today I did my monthly food shopping, and while it is warm, I always take a cool bag with ice blocks in it, to ensure I get the fresh milk and any frozen goods, home safely. I always unpack that bag first, and when I had done it today, I left it on the chair in the kitchen, and stopped to make our lunch. The next thing I saw was Tango asleep on the bag, still full of ice blocks, and he stayed there most of the afternoon! There's no accounting....

Now I will link this with Annie's Friday Smiles, and Rocking Your World, and leave you with one last sunset. It was taken at our friend's wake, about ten minutes after the one above. Much of the vivid colour had gone when I went back outside to look, but it was still so beautiful that I had to take another picture! Like I said - I just can't help myself!! (I'm not even going to mention the face!).

Friday, September 23, 2016

Rocking Your World 2016: Week 39

Well another week has literally flown past. I don't think I have done anything significant this week, but that in itself is rare, and something to be thankful for. And of course there have still been little moments of joy that deserve to be told. My smile this week is a photo taken on one of our early morning walks, but it isn't a sun-rise. No it is the moon!

It was a full moon last Friday night so I think we took this on Saturday morning. It was so round and perfect, and still quite bright, and high in the sky above the jacaranda trees.

And while speaking of jacarandas, I mentioned a week ago how surprised I was to see flowers on these trees at this time of year. Then they were all on the tops of the trees, but now they are out on the lower branches too and they are even more beautiful when they have a backdrop of the pretty fern-like leaves on these trees. So here is a close up of a bunch that was hanging down at my level. My camera has not actually caught it with a very true colour as they are a more blue-mauve than this, but so pretty.

And so to my week. Monday and Tuesday were spent doing some gardening. The front of the house was in urgent need of attention so we spent some time pruning shrubs and dead-heading the flowers. Then I potted up some chrysanthemums and pansies to hopefully give us some colour until the poinsettias arrive for Christmas! I have optimistically added a few daffodil bulbs to some of the pots too, but I am not holding out for much success with them.

People often stop and admire our garden, and comment on the flowers. I guess out here, flowers are almost a luxury item. The Spanish people either use their land for fruit and vegetables, or they have potted palms etc. We have the palms, and everything has to be in pots, but I like to have flowers growing around the base of the larger shrubs. It seems to be a good year for flowering trees because our bird of paradise tree has had a second blooming too. A few weeks ago it was covered with big brown stems of bean pods, but then I notices one new flower bud. Now it is covered in flowers again.

They are so unusual, and to think I bought this as a tiny plant in a pot just two years ago.
In this close-up you can see some of the bean-pods. When I was sweeping up after my gardening session I found the seeds all over the floor. I also rescued a baby tree that had seeded itself. I have put it in a pot, but if it takes off I will have to find someone else who wants it. I have no-where I can plant it to let it grow like the first one has.
My last job in the garden was to loosen the soil around the top of the pots and add a few fertiliser pellets.  The soil does get exhausted in the pots, and this year the older hibiscus have hardly flowered at all, though the new ones have done well. But within a few days of me feeding them, I had flowers again!

When we cut the bougainvillea down round at the back, we freed up our baby lemon tree, and I was surprised to find how many lemons are on it this year.
We also have one orange tree that we bought on our thirtieth wedding anniversary, and that has the most fruit I have ever seen on it. But it is a late variety so they still have to hold on through some wind and bad weather, but I am quite hopeful we will have a good yield from it. Last year the citrus fruits were not good, and I struggled to find any bitter oranges to make marmalade, so I am hoping they will be more plentiful this year too.

Sunsets have been at an all time low this month. The days have started cloudy but by tea-time the sky has been clear so there is nothing to reflect the rays and give some colour. But one evening when I was feeding the dogs I saw this and thought it was quite interesting.
We actually had a small amount of rain later that night. And one evening I managed to take this. If my camera had been anywhere other than on the table in the kitchen, I would have been too late to take it. It certainly didn't last for long.

Last week I scared Annie with a picture of a spider. This week my bug is less scary. We came home from the shops one day and Chris spotted it on the edge of the garage roof. It is of course, a praying mantis. I rather like these, and they are certainly welcome in the garden as they eat a lot of smaller bugs.
When I was gardening I found her again on one of the hibiscus plants, on a branch I had just pruned off. So I transferred her onto another plant. I didn't want her to feel unwelcome!

Not everything this week has been good. I had news of two deaths, a friend and then a family member, so I have had to dig a bit deeper for my "things to be grateful for", but of course, there are always some there if you really look.
Firstly I was so very grateful to a group of Spanish girls from my Intercambio group, who helped me with the translation for a flower festival information sheet. I mentioned last week that this was mostly done, but one girl was a bit uncertain as to the meaning of a part, so this week we met up and went through it together. Now I just have to finish typing up the translation and sending it to the friend who asked for it. I did have a go myself, but now that I have seen the authentic translation I think my Spanish still has a long way to go. I got some bits right, but I need to learn, and more importantly retain, more vocabulary.

I was grateful to my son who gave me an online lesson via Skype, on how to add all the accents that are so important in Spanish as they can completely alter the meaning of a word. Until recently I have used an English keyboard on my PC and on my wall I have a list of number codes that add accents as needed, but now I have a Spanish keyboard, and it is actually so much easier, ONCE YOU KNOW ABOUT IT! So typing up my document will be a lot quicker now.

Of course it was exciting when my new printer arrived, especially as it came a day earlier than expected. We soon had it set up, and I am pleased with the things I have printed so far. printing the news letter for church should be a lot quicker and easier this week.

I was grateful to Chris who suggested lunch out today, and we had the best fish and chips we have had since we came here. We had been told of this venue before, but we went on a Thursday and found they didn't cook meals at lunch time, which is when we prefer to eat our main meal. But recently someone told us that they just do fish and chips as a special meal on Fridays. There was a good crowd there, and it was worth it. I can see us going there again. I am not a huge fan of fish but I know it is good for us so I try to serve it once a week. But Chris really enjoys white fish and if someone else is cooking it, that is fine by me!

I have managed to do some more of my blanket as the weather has been a little cooler, and I can see me sitting outside to do some in the afternoons now, like I did in the Spring. I love this time of year, when it is comfortably warm outside, but not too hot. But Chris fished the thermometer out of the pool and the water temperature has dropped to 22º, so I don't think I'll be doing much more swimming this year. That is the borderline temperature for me to start using it in the Spring, so I guess it is also the line to stop using it now.

I have had two little parcels this week with some small items of craft materials in, so I am looking froward to using those. One was some new sparkly ink brush pens, and they are lovely bright colours and dry with a real sparkle. They will work well on some of my greetings cards.

So now I will end with another couple of skies. You have seen the sunsets so here are two more sunrises. We do seem to be getting more colour in the sky in the mornings than in the evenings at the minute. You know what they say about red sky in the morning.... Our forecast is promising some rain and high winds for next week, though it is staying nice and warm, so we shall have to wait and see.
This is the view we see as we step out of our door in the morning. Such pretty colours all around.

But this morning the sky was a dull silver with no colour, and I had actually put my phone in my bag in case there was a nice sunrise! But as we got to the front of the village and were walking up the slip road, I glanced behind me and from no-where this had appeared. So I got my photo after all. I like the silhouette of the tall pine tree against it. (Shame about the lamp posts!).
So now it's off to link with Annie's Friday Smiles and Rocking Your World at Celtic House, and I'll hopefully meet up with you all again next week.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Rocking Your World 2016: Week 38

Hi everyone. My smile today is the dress that I wore to my sewing group on Wednesday. I am sure some of you are wondering why a dress should make me smile, but I love sunflowers, and when I saw this dress, it was love at first sight. The surprising thing is that I bought it around thirty years ago! It was from a stall in Wembley market, when it was in the old stadium every week. I had a baby in a pushchair and a little boy in tow, which is how I know it was thirty years ago! We had little money to spare in those days, but Chris let me buy it and I got teased mercilessly when I wore it. As you can see, it is just a little straight shift - probably even more shapeless now than when it was new, and I guess it was brighter and bolder than most young mums were wearing at the time. I always remember one day when I had already had it for a good few years, and my second son was running a little bar; he was in the habit of wearing rather garish tropical print shirts and had obviously been taking some stick for the one he had on that day, when we walked into the bar to see him. I was wearing my sunflower dress, and as we went in, everyone burst out laughing. Then someone said, "We know where you get it from now Mike!". I reckon that dress could tell some stories. It went on several holidays to Spain when our three younger boys were small, and I have worn it every summer since. It has needed a few repairs, and the material is now very thin, but I still love it. And now when I wear it everyone else loves it too. They come up and say, "Oh Kate, I love that dress. Where is it from? Did you buy it out here?". I just smile and say "It was from a little market stall in Wembley some thirty years ago". I will be really sad when it finally falls apart, but I reckon it has got a few summers left in it yet. And I will always smile each time I lift it out of the wardrobe.

Well I am still wearing summer dresses, but there is a definite feel of Autumn in the air this week. It is a few degrees cooler all day, and a lot cooler at night, which in itself is something to be grateful for! However, Monday was very unpleasant because we had the Levante wind, and it was very strong. So strong in fact, that I didn't go outside for fear of being blown off my feet. It was quite frightening with the noise of doors and windows banging, shutters rattling and debris flying everywhere. It was a hot wind, and very dusty, so the next day every surface was covered in a film of reddish dust, and the ground was covered in leaves and other garden rubbish. Here is just one corner of our pool that had been clean and sparkling just the day before.
On Tuesday there was a layer of sodden leaves all over the bottom of it, and another layer floating on top.
Everywhere we looked there were leaves forming drifts in all the corners, and you just knew that if you swept them up, some more would take their place.
But mostly it is cleared up now, though the front yard still needs some attention. We have been concentrating on the strip at the side of the house where Chris was pruning the bougainvillea. Each day he did a little bit more, and then we decided to cut it right back to get rid of the old wood in the centre of it. It was hard work for him, but we got there in the end. In the photo you can see a couple of pieces of the main stem that were embedded on the fence, so we cut around them, but after the rest was finished we worked on them until we got them free. It looks a bit sad now but my kitchen is so much brighter, and we know it will all  grow again next year. It has opened up our view of the house next door, but as the owner is only there for a couple of weeks each year, this really doesn't matter.
We now have a huge pile of branches to chip but it will take a while as neither of us can do that sort of work for too long at a time. Also bougainvillea grows with lots of small branches growing  out  from each larger one, and these all have to be cut off before they can be fed into the shredder. But we had a good session on it on Tuesday, and if we do a little bit more each week, we will get rid of all of it in the end.

I gave poor Annie a fright when I posted this photo on Facebook this week, but I did warn her that it would be showing up here as well, so she was forewarned for today. This rather splendid fellow turned up on Sunday, in the middle of a big web hung between the branches of the bougainvillea, so Chris was lucky I spotted it before he lopped off the last branches. I looked it up on the internet and it is a banded agiope spider, and I learned that although its bite is nasty - similar to a strong bee sting - it is not lethal, so that was good to know. I am no lover of spiders, and I really don't like them on me, but I can still marvel at the design of the creator who made him. His stripes were amazing and even continued to the end of each of his long legs. He was still there when we finished the pruning on Tuesday so I gently cut his web and lowered him to the ground so he could move away and find somewhere else to make his home. His web was stronger than any I have felt before, and he was a big fellow - around 2½ to 3 inches from 'tip to toe'.(I actually read that the male is much smaller than the female so probably this was a Mrs not a Mr.)

On Wednesday our car was due its itv (M.O.T. for our friends in UK), and normally we have it fully serviced the week before this. Unfortunately our mechanic friend who always does this, went off for two weeks holiday so he was unable to do it until Tuesday, the day before its test. He lives, and has his workshop, on the campo beyond the urbanisation of Huerta Nueva, across the road from our village. It is quite a walk back for Chris when he takes the car over there, so I suggested we drove over early with the dogs and walked them back, rather than going out with them first. They got very excited as we loaded them into the car, and by 8.00 we were making our way back home with them. It was so peaceful around Andy's house and the rising sun made a misty haze over the olive trees. There wasn't another soul around.
Usually we take the car for its test ourselves. It is a drive through system here and we have done it several times now so we know what to expect, but the best test centre is over at Lorca, a good 45 minutes drive from here, and it was going to be difficult fitting it in between my sewing group in the morning and choir practice in the evening, so we were very grateful to Andy who got the service done in good time and took it over for the test for us before we got it back on Tuesday night. We were also grateful that it passed well and didn't need any expensive work done on it.

I thought our intercambio group might start back this week, but everyone was busy so we are going to try again next week. I was a bit disappointed as I had a document that I had promised a friend I would try to get translated from English to Spanish for her, and I was hoping some of the Spanish girls who come to the group might help me. So I sent out a message and straight away three people offered to help, so now most of it is done. I am grateful to have friends so willing to help.

The morning have been lovely this week. With a few clouds always being present, the sun has risen gently and lit up the sky beautifully. I'll save the best for the end of this post, but here is one I took yesterday as we were walking up the slip road at the front of our village. There were some white puffy clouds ahead that turned a lovely golden yellow. Here they are up through the jacaranda trees that line the slip road. It must be something to do with the weather this year, because as you can see, there are some lovely lilac blossoms on the top of the tree. Normally these bloom in the Spring before there are any leaves on the trees, so it is really strange to see both leaves and flowers together.
The reason the clouds turned yellow can be seen if I turn right round and look down the road. The sun had just broken through. Isn't it lovely?!

The courier came yesterday afternoon and handed me a parcel which turned out to contain the set of black and coloured toner cartridges for my new laser printer. I have to wait until next Tuesday for the printer to get here, but at least when it does arrive I will have the toner ready and be able to try it out straight away.

Today it was the post lady who called and she gave me another lovely squishy parcel which I knew would be more wool! It is always wrapped in this way.
Inside was the usual lovely white organza bag containing lots of pretty colours of wool. This time I did buy one of each of the two-coloured yarns that they do. I still don't like them as much as the plain colours but I saw something on the internet that was made using one and it was really nice, so I thought I might as well have one of each in my stash. More importantly I now have three more balls of the parchment yarn that I need to do the borders on all my blanket squares.
While I was waiting for this to arrive I made another small square - I liked the way this one turned out, and I also did the second of the much larger squares. Now these can both have their borders done. Then I am almost half way though the blanket. I need to make one more of each motif and start fitting them together.

I have also done some more mystical lantern motifs for my shawl. I am half-way through this as well. It is a good project to have handy when I am watching TV or talking to someone, as they are easy motifs to make and don't require too much concentration. I started joining the chains of lanterns together this week, so I can see what I need next. I quite like the way the random colours are working out.

And finally here are the photos of the truly splendid sunrise we had on Monday morning. I woke up to a rosy glow in the bedroom and leaping up, I threw on a cotton kaftan (don't want to scare the neighbours!) and grabbed my camera as I rushed out the front door. I know how quickly these skies can change and I didn't want to miss it. The whole sky was a fiery orange.
We quickly got ready to take the dogs out for their walk and by the time we had got round to the flat area beyond the green zone at the back of our house, it looked like this.
The cloud was breaking up, and the sun was breaking through. We continued down to the front of the village and up along the slip road. By now the sun was winning over the clouds, and the sky was getting lighter.
Then we turned up and walked along the side of the village up to the top, and back home down through the main street. The next time we had a clear view of the sky, the sun was out. So this was my final shot.
I took all of these photos on my phone as I cannot manage to carry my big camera and handle the dogs at the same time, and I thought they came out really well.
The reason I am so late posting tonight is because I have just chatted to my sister for over an hour on Skype. That is something else I am grateful for. Skype has helped me keep in touch since we moved over here, and it is great to be able see people when I am talking to them. It is almost like being in a room with them.
So now I had better get this linked up to Annie's Friday Smiles and Rocking Your World, and tomorrow I will do some visiting and see what everyone else is smiling about his week.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Rocking Your World 2016: Week 37

This blog is all about being positive. On her blog at Celtic House, Virginia encourages us to look for the silver linings, to find the things we can be grateful for, and then somehow the low points of our week don't seem so bad. I have had another lovely week, but rather than highlight one little part of it, I thought I would post this list that I saw on Facebook a while ago, that is really the essence of what we are aiming for in our weekly blog posts. So I hope you can agree with most of the items on this list today.

And now to what was probably the brightest point of my week, last Saturday when the choir I am in -Incognito Singers - was invited to sing at a charity afternoon to raise money for Paws/Patas, the charity which helps to care for and re-home many of the abandoned and abused dogs and cats that abound here. The event was held at the home of a lady who is very involved in this charity work, and the tickets were all sold well in advance of the actual day.

The house was truly amazing. It was set at the very top of a mountain on the edge of Mojacar. It was only accessible by a single lane dirt track, that hugged the edge of the mountain, so we (choir and guests) had to park our cars at the bottom and be shuttled up in a convoy of six cars, that travelled together and went up and down many times until everyone was up there.
As we stepped out of the cars at the top, this is the view that was directly in front of us.
Looking to our left we could see Mojacar playa below us. The large orange building set into the hillside is an exclusive hotel, and opposite it is a piece of rough ground where we had parked our cars to wait for our lift up to the house.
Inside the house we soon found that there were views to enjoy from every room. The room we sang in had huge windows all along the side - I am glad I didn't have to clean them - some of which were open, and this was the view through them.
Imagine being able to look at that through all the changing seasons. Stunning isn't it?.And by turning just a little further you could see along the coast away from Mojacar, almost as far as Carboneras.
Although some parts of the house were 'out of bounds', there were plenty of places that we were free to roam in, so I went through to the landward side of the house and took this view of the mountains.

Next to that was a narrow pathway where we lined up to process in for our performance. This led to a lovely swimming pool area, with a built-in barbecue and lots of shady seating which we were very grateful for as it was an extremely hot afternoon.

And I couldn't resist one last photo of this delightful archway that framed the view so beautifully. I am sure if I lived there, that is where I would sit with my morning cup of tea, most days.

The concert itself was a huge success. There were about sixty guests as well as a team of workers from the charity, and they were  all very generous with their praise, including giving us a standing ovation at the end. We had very little space to actually stand in. At the end of the room there were three steps leading up to a bar, that had the garage behind it. A curtain was hung across this and we stood in front of it, making use of the steps to ensure everyone had a good view of our musical director, David. When we had planned our 'arrangement' at last week's practice, we were told we each had the space of one floor tile to stand on! In fact it was not quite as cramped as that, but I am not good in small spaces, so I was glad I was on the end of the front row, so I could step down onto floor level, and feel relatively free.
Even David said he thought it was the best concert we had ever done. We liked the fairly informal arrangement. It was formal enough to be like a theatre performance in that the audience sat and listened to us (I have sung in bars where there is a constant background noise of murmuring voices and coffee machines etc, which can be very off-putting). But the seating was informal in that everyone sat on sofas, window seats, stools and even the hearth around the fire, as you can see better in this panoramic photo taken by one of the guests.
Two thirds of the way down the room, there were two steps which led up to smaller area, also filled with seating for the guests, and David stood on these steps to conduct us as there was no space between us and the front row seats. He is an excellent musical director, and really knows how to get the best out of us. And he is generous with his praise when we do it right.
As you can see in this last photo, we have all learned to sing out and not bury our faces in our books, and we all love doing it. His eyes are sharp and he always says there is no room for 'shrinking violets'. He expects us all to give of our best so we do.
There was an interval half way through, and we were each given a lovely plate of dainty canapés, which we ate sitting round the pool. There was a loosely French theme to the everything and Chris won a nice selection of cheeses on a glass tray in the raffle.

When we got home I was completely worn out, so we cooled down in the pool, had a light tea, watched a bit of TV and went to bed earlier than we have managed for a long time.

The rest of the week was quite tame by comparison until we got to Thursday when were involved in another event. This was quite a different occasion as it was the 'Celebration of Life' Service for our dear friend Jean. Her daughter and son-in-law are back out here now, and they wanted it to be sooner rather than later, so a group of us got together and had it all organised in no time. It was held in our little church at Llanos del Peral on another hot and sticky afternoon. Chris had arranged the flowers herself and they looked beautiful.

There was also a lovely montage of photos on display that Jean's Grandson had prepared for the funeral. He selected all the photos and sent them to the printer along with poems and messages from immediate family which are the pieces of writing below the pictures. The printer put them all onto this screen which just rolls down into a neat little box at the base so it is easy to transport, and display again. I thought it was really well done.

Our pianist friend Sue played some of Jean's favourite music at the start and end of the service, we sang some of her favourite hymns, and Margie, Chris' closest friend who is our lay-reader in training, read a beautiful eulogy that she had prepared from notes we had all sent to her of our memories of Jean. I was honoured to be asked to read a poem - A Mother's Love by Helen Steiner Rice, and Pat read another poem that Chris had written about her mum.
It was all lovely. Our little church was full with over eighty people coming from all around this area. Jean certainly left her mark on everyone she met, and they all loved her.
Afterwards we went to the nearby bar to share a light buffet, and just spend time chatting to folks, many of whom we hadn't seen for a long time. It was a fitting tribute to a lovely lady.

Other than that my time has been spent doing as little as possible. We have had another mini-heatwave and on Monday  the thermometer was showing 42º in the shade. (For those that don't relate to Cetigrade very well, that is around 107ºF). It was an all time high even for here, for September, and I really didn't enjoy it. We called all the animals in with us and sat in the main room with the air-con on, but I find that kind of heat is very draining and saps all my energy. It didn't even drop far at night. When we went out with the dogs at 7.30 the next morning, the thermometer on the farmacia was already showing 30º and had moved up to 34º by the time we got home, just under an hour later.
So one of my big gratefuls this week, is for the air-conditioning units in the main room and our bedroom, and the pool that we spent time in as soon as the fierce sun had moved round and it was in partial shade.
Since then the temperature has dropped a bit, though not by the ten degrees that were forecast. But it is down to around 25º when we go out in the mornings, and is only rising to the mid-thirties at lunch time. That is still high for September, but we can cope with it, and before long we will be moaning that it is cold when we get up! So we will enjoy it while we can.
Most days it has been too hot to do my crochet, but one day I managed some and as I put the border on a finished square I noticed my ball of 'parchment' yarn was very small. And I finished my square with just a centimetre of wool to spare. Now that is what I call a happy ending. So today I have ordered some more, and hopefully there will be enough to edge the rest of my squares and do a border round the whole  blanket.
Another order I made today was rather exciting. I have ordered myself a colour lazer printer. I have been thinking about it for a long time, and I am fed up with buying ink cartridges every few weeks, so I am really looking forward to seeing how I get on with it. I shall still use my inkjet printer for my scrapbook pages because it is a wide-bed printer, and I like to make make my scrapbook pages 12"x12". But for cards etc, I think the lazer will be better. I use my computer more and more in card-making as my silly arms and hands fail to co-operate with my brain sometimes, making too much colouring and gluing difficult. At least on the computer, I can put things right before I print them. It is going to take a week or so to arrive, so that is something to look forward to.
And finally - Thank goodness I hear you sigh! - here is one sky photo that I took this evening while I was watering the plants around the back of the house. There are a few clouds gathering, but I don't think they are bringing any rain our way.
A big thank you to those who faithfully read my ramblings week by week. I am grateful for your visits and comments, and I enjoy reading about what makes you smile too. So I will link up with Rocking Your World, and Annie's Friday Smiles, and visit as many as I can of you lovely people too.