Friday, July 21, 2017

Rocking Your Wold 2017; Week 29

Well I had better warn you that this week's post is a bit photo heavy, so I will keep the description to a minimum. It is a continuation from last week, sharing bits of the fiesta that we enjoyed, and I will say here that although most of the photos are my own, a few are taken from the Town Hall's own site. Their official photographer is good, and sometimes get better photo opportunities than I do.

So we will start with last Friday night. After writing my blog, I went into town to watch the children do their traditional dancing. They are a new dance school run by a couple of young girls, so most of the members are very young, but they put on an excellent show, and one or two are real characters and kept us all smiling throughout their performance.
After the evening entertainment there is always an hour or so break while the night time musicians set up, do sound checks etc, and it is fun to sit around on the plaza, with a drink and a tapa if you want one, and just watch the people milling around. There is always such a happy atmosphere at the fiesta.
I like to look up through the lights and lanterns as the sky darkens. They are so pretty.
Temperatures have definitely been in the upper thirties this week, and Saturday was so, so hot!. They even cancelled one event with the small children, we assume because it was scheduled for the hottest part of the afternoon. However we had planned to go an event and am glad we made ourselves leave the relative cool of the house to go, because it was such fun. We only had to walk to the next street to Simon's bar, where a huge green net across the street formed a tunnel of shade. Along each side there were pierced hose that kept us sprayed with a fine mist. We hadn't had lunch - the heat kind of saps your appetite, so we started with a drink and tapa. This was my healthy lunch Spanish style - tomatoes with olives and garlic, and of course, bread.
As everyone was finishing eating I saw this large contraption being wheeled to one end of the 'tunnel'. Do you know what it is?
It is a foam machine and what fun it was. The children had mostly come prepared and soon stripped off to their swimming costumes, and before long, soft soapy foam was being pumped into an area for them to play in. Some needed a bit of coaxing to get involved, but soon everyone was enjoying it.
When the children were growing tired and parents were taking them home, the machine was turned up a notch and it was time for the adults to take the plunge. I didn't hesitate of course!
It felt lovely, so soft and cool, and the solution had a stabiliser in it, because it didn't disintegrate for a while. Then a friend asked Chris to come in too, so he could take a photo of them, and they in turn took one of us.
Every now and then the machine was turned off to rest, and I thought it had finished so I was turning back to the bar when suddenly a huge wall of foam came right over me. I have to admit I panicked a bit. I hate having anything over my face, and when I breathed I was breathing in foam. I was quite disorientated and I shouted at Chris to clear my face, but he laughed and just went on videoing me. Men!
But it was all in good fun. Then the party got a bit boisterous with water pistols and water bombs being aimed at folk so we were all soaked through by the time we went home. But at least we were cool!

Sunday night was the main fiesta; the actual day for our patron saint, Virgen del Carmen, so at 8.00 there was a mass in her honour on the plaza. Many of the villagers dress up for this and I love to see them in their beautiful dresses. All the tiny children run around in 'Flamenco style' clothes, even babies in pushchairs are often dressed up.
And the older girls look stunning. This was one of my favourites from the dresses I saw this year.
Not everyone participates in the mass, but there are a lot who do, and others who sit or stand around the edge to watch. It begins when the statue of the Saint is carried down from the church to the plaza, accompanied by the town band, and a procession of villagers.
The choir are already in place on the stage - wearing bright red dresses this year. Once the statue is in place, a long line of folk queue to give a flower tribute to her, and these are placed around her 'throne' and on a cart at the side.
To give you an idea of how many people were there, this was my view from where I was standing towards the back.
And here is the opposite view taken from on the stage.
The mass is led by our village priest who is a lovely man. I listen to his talk and am often surprised by how much I can understand.
As it ended we slipped away to find a quieter spot and indulge in my own fiesta tradition of a mojito in a quiet bar. Yum-yum!
And so the sun set on another fiesta. 
The music continued for one last night, ending around 7-00 on Monday morning. Because the Saint's day fell on a Sunday, Monday was also a Red day (or public holiday), so no-one had to get up for work, but by night-fall, most of the rides were packed up and ready to roll, the bars were dismantled, and the rubbish lorries were out clearing the streets. Now you would never know it had happened.

A couple of other things have happened this week. After our 'foam fun' Chris suggested we get away from the noise for the evening and he took me to a lovely Italian restaurant on the edge of Mojacar, and we had an excellent meal, - all the better for being unexpected.

On Wednesday I had a follow-up appointment at the hospital for my arthritic shoulders, and because I had been tardy about booking a translator, I had to wing it myself. It went really well. The doctor had a smattering of English, so between us we had a good chat. She was concerned about my swollen knuckles, and lack of mobility in my neck, so she has referred me to the rheumatoid arthritis consultant just to check. She also prescribed some better pain killers for me so it was a very positive session.

Earlier in the week, we booked our flights to UK in October so I can have a family party for my 70th birthday. And I am then going on to spend a few days with my sisters down South, and then bringing my sister Jean back with me for a week, so lots to look forward to there.

Today I went to the ferreteria and bought an 'industrial strength' fan for my craft room. It is doing its best to blow me out the window right now, but it is lovely and cool.

And finally, here is an update on the new roundabout at the front of the village. The men pulled out all the stops to get it finished before the fiesta, and very smart it looks too.
We now have a wide, safe crossing, governed by traffic lights, to get us across the busy main road, so as soon as it is a little cooler we will be walking the dogs that way in the mornings.
The village name is mounted at both ends of the oval, and there are eight tall lights keeping it visible. There are a group of hibiscus plants between each pair of olive trees, which are already in flower, and where the road divides into lanes, the new little islands are covered in artificial grass - just visible at the right of my photo. It all looks very good and the traffic is moving well around it, so job well done!

And that's it for this week. So I will link up with Annie's Friday Smiles and Rocking Your World. Thank you for staying with me for this marathon. I'll see you all again next week.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Rocking Your World: Week 28

This is going to be a short and sweet post as it has been so  hot here this week that I have done as little possible. Also it is Fiesta week in our village, so from tea-time onwards, it is very noisy with three main sources of music all vying with one another to be the loudest, and they don't stop until at least 6.00 a.m. the next morning. With being away in UK for a week, we had not realised how close to the fiesta we were, but on the first morning we were back, our usual route out of the village was temporarily blocked by this lorry.
The man is busy putting up the lights that are strung across all the streets. Of course, now the fiesta has started they do look very pretty. This is a particularly colourful one this year.
Wednesday was the first night, when for a few hours, all the fairground rides are a bit cheaper for the children, so there were lots of young families milling around. We went over for an hour or two, and although not all the stalls are open on that night, there was still a good crowd out to enjoy it.
We will be going over later tonight to watch the local school of dancing children doing their traditional Flamenco display. And there will be other things to enjoy over the weekend, ending with a big open-air mass on Sunday evening.

With rather disturbed nights we have been making sure we have a siesta in the afternoon, though some days it has been too hot to laze outside. The pool is a welcome way to cool down around midnight, and the aircon makes the bedroom bearable even though we turn it off when we go to bed. This is the only week all year that we sleep with the bedroom windows closed, but we do have the ceiling fan on all night to keep the air moving.

During July and August, most of the usual groups and clubs have a break, so we have some time to catch up on all the jobs that have been left undone for months. So this week, Chris has drastically pruned a tree in the corner of our yard, and while he was cutting, I was shredding it to make it easier to dispose of all the branches. Then yesterday we tackled the small back strip of yard outside the kitchen door, and moved a tall plastic storage shed from the far end, up to the middle to stand next to one that was already in place there. Of course this meant emptying it and sorting through everything. We found ancient tins of paint and varnish, tail ends of garden treatments, a box of light bulbs and one of string. We worked on the premise that anything we haven't used since we arrived over nine years ago, can probably be disposed of! The second shed is used to house the boxes of dog food, and also all my plastic boxes and containers that I can never quite throw away. But I sorted those out too and did manage to dispose of two carrier bags full, so we now have two tidy cupboards, and a much neater yard.
Recently we bought three other storage units, similar to the big ones but only half height which run all along the wall of the house now to store big cooking pans, electrical 'gadgets' and anything else that I struggled to find a home for in the kitchen. So the yard is really my extended kitchen and everything is much easier to access now, so I am pleased with it.
This yard strip becomes much narrower at the front end, where it runs alongside the side of our garage, and the cupboard we moved had been used as a barrier across this while the dogs were puppies. They don't need that now, so we were happy to move it. There is still a low fence panel across there, and as soon as it is cool enough to work out there again, we are going to remove it, and a few of the crazy-paving blocks, and plant a couple of climbing flowers to hopefully ramble across the garage door.
The only other thing of note that I have managed this week, is to make a double batch of piccalilli and one batch of hot chili and ginger jam! Chris said I was mad to attempt it in this heat, but I have several orders for both, and I had promised to try and get some made. For the piccalilli, all the vegetables have to be cut up and left to soak in salt overnight, before they are rinsed and cooked, so I sat out in the porch all evening peeling and chopping. It is actually fairly quick and easy to finish it off the next day. The chili and ginger one has quite a lot of garlic in it too and it makes the kitchen smell for days afterwards. But my cupboard is well stocked now and supplies should last until the Autumn.

Most months I make a card to enter in the Butterfly Challenge, and as I won this challenge a few months back, I was asked to be a guest designer for one challenge, so this week was my time. The challenge was to make a card with at least one butterfly on it, and using the themes of M for Matching pair, and/or the colour Orange peel. I wanted a cheerful card to send to someone, so that is what I made. This was my design, and you can read more about it on my craft blog by clicking here.
And that is it for this week. It is time now to get some tea and head over for the dancing. Virginia is taking a couple of weeks off, so I am just linking up with Annie's Friday Smiles for this week.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Rocking Your World 2017: Week 27

Hi folk. I'm back after a whirlwind week in UK. What a happy week it was, and here's the reason why. Son number four - Jonathan with his new wife Ella, both looking so happy, as every bride and groom should.

 More about the happy day later, but now we have had the event I can share some of the things I have been busy making for them over the past few months.

It isn't easy when you are many miles apart, but we shared ideas by e-mail and eventually settled on an art-deco design in gold on a black  background. I was determined to make them whatever they chose but I admit I was a bit daunted when they said black, but it really did turn out very nicely. This was the basic pattern.
The design was cut from gold vinyl, and I cut nearly 100 of them on my silhouette cameo machine. Before I could use transfer tape to put them onto the black base cards, all the unwanted areas had to be weeded out. There were 110 pieces to remove from each one! I used one of my favourite fonts called Yana, to put the word "Invitation" across the centre of each one. Then I printed the inserts in black on white heavy paper, some for those who were invited for the whole day, and a different one for those who were invited to just the evening party.

Next I used the cameo design software to stretch the design to fit the front cover of a guest book with a plain black cover that I managed to buy from ebay, and I replaced the word "Invitation", with "Guest Book" They had a sort of polaroid camera so the guests could take their photo and stick it in the book with their good wishes. it was a fun idea until the camera gave up, and the last few had to just write for them.

To complete this trio I made a matching post box for their cards. I knew it needed to be quite big for this, and fortunately I found an old box from an Amazon delivery, that I was able to alter and cover in black card. This time I had to stretch the design quite a bit, but it still worked, and the couple told me what words they wanted on it. I added a roof with a generous slit in it, and decorated both slopes, and the sides with simple art-deco frames.
Finally came the favour boxes to go on the table for the lunch time meal. I made a few different designs for them to choose from and fortunately they chose the best one for me, because I could cut them out and decorate them, and pack them flat to go in my suitcase. So when we arrived Ella and I spent an evening assembling them, and popping  a little bag of jelly beans in to each one.
We soon had all seventy of them filled and closed up, ready to be delivered to the venue the next day.
There wasn't a lot we could do to help them before the day, so it was nice that I was able to make these, and they were very well received, so it was all worth while.

The actual wedding was on Sunday, which was quite unusual, but they couldn't have chosen a better day. There were a few fluffy clouds in the morning, but by midday they had gone and it was bright sunshine right through to the evening. Some folks even had to resort to using sunscreen.

The venue was beautiful - an old country house called Sweeney Hall in Oswestry, Shropshire, where they both grew up. It was set in lovely grounds with several separate areas of grass and flower beds, and lots of comfy outdoor seating. We were among the first to arrive so I took the opportunity to take some photos before there were too many people around. Next week I may have some more official photos to share, with the actual guests in them!
This is Sweeney Hall.
On the lower lawn there was seating under a pergola, and this is where they said their vows. Ella arrived on her dad's arm to the music of Jane's Addiction! Jonathan plays drums in three heavy  metal groups, and that is the type of music they like.
She looked radiant in a white dress with a lace overlay. It was almost backless but was joined at the waist and neck with silver buttons in the shape of skulls. She also wore a bracelet of skulls! Her bouquet was slightly goth style with dark plum calla lilies and blue sea thistles. Jonathan had a dark plum suit with a black shirt and tie. It is a long way from weddings as they used to be, but suited them perfectly.

The registrar was a lovely man with a great sense of humour. He made several jokes, and really made the ceremony such fun.

Over to the side of the pergola, there was an archway with a high flowering rose around it, and we all took a turn to have our photos taken by it. Even Chris and I did.
While this was being taken, there was a tractor herding sheep in the field to our left!
We all sat outside to enjoy a cocktail after the ceremony, and then we all went back down to the seats for our oldest son Jim (who is a vicar) to say a few extra words. Then there was a brief interlude before the meal so I popped into the marque to have a look, and it was stunning.
You can just see several glass baubles hanging from each blossom tree, which each had a battery operated tea-light in it. Also the black section of the ceiling was threaded with tiny fairy lights like stars, so it was really pretty by the time the evening party was underway. I did take a photo, but it didn't come out too well.
Now for a couple of group photos that I am pleased with. The first is of our oldest son with his wife and three children. They are all rather camera shy so it is very rare to get a picture of them all smiling like this.
Needless to say, the second one is of Chris and I with our five boys (I should probably say men now, but they will always be our boys to me). My prescription glasses are reactolights, which I need in the bright sun out here, but unfortunately it means they are quite dark in most of the photos. But I love this line up all the same.

And now for a couple of other happy moments from our week away. After two days in Manchester, staying with Jonathan and Ella, we left them to do their final preparations and moved on to stay with Ben in Birmingham. As you must know from earlier posts, he is our youngest son who sings and plays the piano. He has just invested in some very complex equipment, I think he called it a midi file controller, that enables him to play his music on the keyboard and the controller plays it in a variety of instruments. The piano sounds amazing, but in this picture he is demonstrating the brass family to me. Each colour light section plays a different instrument, and they blend together as though he is playing in a brass band. It is all clever stuff, and I can see he is going to have loads of fun 'playing' with it.
Ben does shift work and happened to be off on Thursday so he drove up to Manchester to collect us. We all walked round to a lovely bar/restaurant for some lunch before driving back, and we spotted this on the patio. It did make me smile.
And I will leave you there for this week. Now to link up with Annie's Friday Smiles and Rocking Your World, and I will be back with more, next week.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Rocking Your World 2017: Week 25

I'll go straight in with my Smile for this week, and here it it.

Yes, I have finally completed my Sophie blanket. It is heavy and warm, and covers our bed perfectly. (The centre will lay flatter when I have blocked it).
It is really made up of several patterns.
The inner circle started out as Sophie's Mandala. Then it was made into a square with some flowers worked into the corners, and this was Sophie's Garden.
It continued to grow with various rounds of criss-cross fences, more flowers, and then a wider border with butterflies on it, and finally some more lattice work fencing, and this was Sophie's Universe.
You will probably have noticed that some of the colours have changed. This is  because this photo and the one above it are not mine. They are the photos off the patterns I used, because it is so difficult to get a good square photo of such a large piece of work.
But back to my blanket now. Many people stopped at the end of S.Universe, but it was not big enough for me, and when others also said this, it was suggested that we work a round of two squares, used alternately, and these squares were called Jack and Lydia. I chose colours from my blanket to make each of these, and they looked better than I had expected.
Then I wanted a way to finish it off. All the above components were designed by Dedri Uys, and their patterns can be bought on the knitters site, Ravelry. She also designed a narrow border but again I needed more so my blanket would fit our king size bed. Someone from a Facebook knitting page pointed me to another designer on Ravelry who had designed a much wider border of 35 rows, using elements of the Sophie patterns, especially for anyone who wanted a bigger blanket. So I have been working that. It is Anne Grethe Bjerrrgaard's border - Sophie's Univese Growing Up. 
This took a long time, not because the stitches were any more difficult, but really because the rounds were now so big. The blanket weighed heavy on my lap and I have been battling with the heat as I tried to do one side each night, determined not to put it away unfinished again this summer. And finally I made it.
It has been a challenge and I have mastered several new techniques as I worked through it, but I love the bright colours, and when next winter brings the chills, we will be glad to have it over us I am sure.

Finishing my blanket is not the only thing I have done this week. On Saturday we took a break from everything to go to a seventieth birthday of a friend in our village. It was a splendid affair, held at a local hostel, and there were around 120 guests. The room had been beautifully decorated.
It started off very warm when we arrived, but later they turned the air-con on and it became more comfortable. There was a good hot buffet overseen by the bar staff.
There was also a very good band, and soon people were up dancing and singing.

I have spent much of this week round at my friend's house, finishing off her packing, and accompanying her to lawyers, and other appointments. On Wednesday afternoon our friend with a courier van came and collected all her boxes, ready for delivery on his next trip to UK in July. With an empty house, and just a few loose ends to tie up, she is now ready to return, so she is flying out on Tuesday. I shall miss her, but I am glad she will be close to her sons.

In the evenings I have been working on some craft projects, mainly finishing off items for our son's wedding, and making family birthday cards to take to UK with me, which will save me a lot in postage.

We also fly out Tuesday, though not until the evening, and we shall be away until the following Tuesday, so next Friday there will be no blog post from me. We will all be busy making the final preparations for the wedding on Sunday.

We have been getting up a bit earlier in the mornings so we can walk the dogs before it gets too hot. Even then they really don't want to walk very far, so we use a shortened circuit, and then bring them into the house to cool down. On Tuesday Kim stopped to sniff around a wall, and when I looked I saw this beautiful moth. Kim didn't hurt it, so I hope it managed to crawl away into a dark corner until the night time.
After breakfast most days, I come down to my room to check my e-mails and Facebook before getting on with that days chores, and every day this week I have been deafened by a pair of magpies, shouting at our cats in the green zone. I think they must have some babies down there, but there is no need for all the noise. The cats don't even seem to notice them, and they are too hot and lazy to climb trees to find their nest. One magpie was sitting on the fence pole just outside my room but I couldn't get his photo because I have black bars (rejas) on the windows, and wire netting on this one to deter the stray cats from bothering Arwen. So I crept outside with my camera, but of course he flew further away. He was sitting on a roof top across the green zone and I took this photo of him, still shouting. My little camera has a good zoom on it, and I was quite please with the clarity of this.
Then he was joined by his mate, and they stopped their racket for a while. But they'll be back tomorrow, and every day until those babies have flown the nest I expect.

I have been trying to work my way through the oddments in the fridge before we go away. We are only going for a week, but some things won't keep that long. So I have made several smoothies at breakfast time. It is a great way to use over-ripe bananas, and any other fruit that is lurking in the salad box. Usually I add a raw carrot as well, just because I can, and you would never know it was there. This one was made from a banana, cherries, a few strawberries, one tangerine, frozen melon and a carrot, and it was delicious. A real glass of sunshine to start the day.

I have had two sessions of physio on my arthritic shoulders this week. It was so hot today, and I really didn't want to drive over to Vera for it at 5.00, but when I got there, the room was comfortable cool, and I dare say it did me some good. It was lovely to come home and have a cooling dip in the pool before tea.
Well I have an exciting week ahead, and I'll be back with all the family news the week after. We have chosen the right week to travel to cooler climes. It has been in the mid-thirties all this week and they have forecast three degrees hotter from next Tuesday, so it could be hitting forty degrees. We usually only get that sort heat in late July and August!
For now I will just link up with Rocking Your World, and Annie's  Friday Smiles, and I'll see you all again in a fortnight.