Friday, March 31, 2017

Rocking Your World 2017: Week 13

Hi folks. I'm a bit later posting tonight and also a bit short of time so it will have to be a quickie. 

This week started with a lovely church service for Mothering Sunday. Our Spanish friends were a bit non-plussed because they don't celebrate their Día de Madres, until the first Sunday in May. After the service, all the ladies were given a posy of flowers, made up mainly of the wild daisies and other flowers that are so abundant this year, with just one or two stems of cultivated plants in with them. Mine were yellow and white and they were so pretty, and they are still looking quite good almost a week later.

The week has flown by as I have been busy completing a few little projects so I had enough to fill a small table at my friends coffee morning today. And here it is though it is not a good photo. I nearly forgot to take one, so this was after I had sold quite a few pieces, and as my Easter cards were in individual cellophane bags, there is a lot of light refection from them.

We had a good turnout, and the sun shone for us, so it was a good morning. I took 65€ altogether, and I donated part of that to church funds, (the coffee morning was in order to raise funds for our church), and the rest will go to Greenfields Africa, the charity I continue to support although we no longer knit for them.
Jasmine, who organises these coffee mornings, is always busy knitting and sewing, and like me, she makes jams. She has a variety of fruit trees on her land, so generally she makes the fruit jams and I concentrate on marmalade and pickles, and we sell them together.
There was some excitement at the end as the winners went to choose their raffle prizes.
Half way through the morning I took a little break and had a wander around the garden. I had to take a photo of this splendid cactus in flower. It was so beautiful.

I also spotted this wonderful clump of osteospermums. Such a gorgeous colour, and it was smothered in flowers too.

I did manage to do a little bit of work in my own garden this week, planting out a couple of companula plants in Chris' window box, and finding homes for two pretty minature roses. Both of these were bought from Lidls when I did my monthly food shop yesterday. Their plants are very healthy and well priced too, so they are hard to resist.
We sat out in the fly-free area after lunch today and I watched the big, black, carpenter bees flitting around our purple flowering tree. It is just coming in to bloom now, but the bees stayed up on the top level and didn't fly low enough for me to catch them on camera. I don't know the name of the tree, but it is quite common in gardens out here, more often as a bush, but we bought ours as little standard tree, and it has grown massively. We prune it quite ruthlessly every autumn, but it always grows back, and it has lots of interesting flowers on it. I like its 'pom.pom' stamens, as do the bees.
Just below it is the white shrub I grew from a cutting off my friends one. It is another year on and I still don't know what it is, but again it has an interesting flower, and it continues to produce them right through the summer.
These two have the same flowering season and they complement each other, and look good together.
Out at the front of the house, the flowers are still looking good too. The rose bud I showed last week, has opened into the fullest, multi-layered rose I think we have ever had. It has a second bud just opening now too.
The Easter lily has a couple more flowers on it. Every time I go to look at it, there are at least two black and white spotted beetles in each flower. I don't know what they are. They seem to be collecting the pollen from the stamen, and they don't eat the flower, or damage it in any way, so I leave them alone.
And finally, this one is now just opening in many gardens around here. It is what we call the bottle-brush plant. Again it varies from a shrub to a tall tree. Ours, has to be a shrub in a big pot, as our little patch of plantable land is already full, but it has lots of 'brushes' coming this year. The first one is fully open. I think they are fascinating.
Most of ours are still at this stage, but I can see it will be really good in a week or two.

And that is all for this week, except for this photo of the sky, taken early evening today. It made me smile to see the sky criss-crossed by the vapour trails of all the planes bringing visitors over for some early sunshine. It made me happy, because tomorrow one of the planes will be bringing our youngest son Ben over with his partner, and on Tuesday his nephew Marcus, our grandson, is also coming over. So the chances of me posting next Friday are pretty slim. It will be Ben's last day, and we will probably be out somewhere. Marcus is staying for another week, but he wants some relaxation time before his uni exams, so I may manage to post the following week.
Sorry this photo is slightly blurred. I had forgotten that my camera was set to macro from when I was taking the flower pictures!
Right, I had better get this linked up with Rocking Your World, and Annie's Friday Smiles, and then I shall have a shower before going to bed as we shall be up with the larks in the morning to get to the airport for their early flight.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Rocking Your World 2017: Week 12

I am sure by now you all know that I can't look at a cloud (or a cliff face, or anything else for that matter), without seeing shapes in it. In general I see faces but not always, so when I spotted this picture this week, it made me smile, to know someone else is as daft as I am!

And here is something else which lifted my spirits. When I was so poorly with a virus just after Christmas, my friends Chris and her husband Phil came to visit me, and they brought me a rose plant in a little pot. As soon as I was feeling better, I cleared a space in our little bit of plantable soil and gave it a home. It immediately started to flourish and this week it has a flower.
Isn't it lovely? They had trouble deciding which one to buy but settled on this one because it was called KT-Rosa. There are a couple more buds on it, so it is doing very well for its first year.
As I came through the front garden the other day I went to look at a pot of squill, which have multiplied each year, and normally they have a cone of blue flowers from each bulb. This year there are none. I don't know if this is down to our odd weather this year, or because it is outgrowing its pot, but I will divide it up later in the year and see what happens next winter. But while I was there I saw a dear little viola flower peeping out between the squill leaves. It must have self seeded itself. Later I went back out to take a picture of it, and I found something had had half of it for lunch!
Whenever I hear people talking about our unusual weather, someone always says "But isn't it lovely and green everywhere, and the wild flowers are amazing this year!", and they truly are amazing. The oxalis are turning everywhere a bright, sharp yellow and there are whole fields covered with them where ever you look. On top of that, there are white and mauve flowers like I showed a few weeks ago, but far more of them now. But the one that has just arrived which I am not so keen on, is this.
Out here it is known by its proper name of acacia. I believe our Australian friends call it wattle, and in UK I knew it as mimosa. It used a be a luxury to have a spray or two in a wedding bouquet, but I think that may have gone out of fashion these days. Having looked it up on the internet I learned that mimosa is really a different plant but because they all come from the same wide family, and look so similar,  their names get interchanged, so I guess it will always be mimosa to me. And the reason why I am not so happy to see it appearing is because it grows everywhere in the wild, (not usually cultivated here), and each tree has thousands of flowers on it, and their pollen give me, and many others I know, hayfever! Fortunately I don't suffer as badly as some folk I know, but it is a constant irritant and you just can't escape from it. With all those flowers, there are also a lot of seeds and they germinate easily, and in the wild, no-one is weeding them out, hence the vast number of trees everywhere. I like the look of it, but many of the species around here are not such a pretty yellow. They are a darker, more brownish yellow. I much prefer another type of mimosa plant that grows here, which is also known as the silk tree, and it has long pink fans for its flowers. I was going to buy one for our garden, but the man at the garden centre told me they are too expensive to stock. Anyway, the ground will be yellow with pollen for a few weeks, and then it will be covered with brown dead flowers, followed by thousands of tiny black seeds, and then the long thin leaves fall. It's no wonder people who have one near their land, especially near their pool, keep cutting it down!

It has been another mixed week of days that are warm and sunny in the morning - hot even on some days - so we have been able to eat our meals outside, and I have sat out with my crochet some afternoons too, but then chilly later in the day. Today it is positively cold and I have had my fire on for a while, which is unheard of late in March. But it does mean I have been able to get on with my craft items for next week's sale. It is only a small affair, so I don't need lots of things, but I want enough to make my stall look nice, and I seemed to have a lot of half done projects. So this week I have concentrated on finishing them off. I still have a few to do, but this afternoon I sewed up this little teddy bear.
He was my first attempt at amigarumi crochet, which is making small figures all in double crochet stitch. He is rather cute but I found it awfully fiddly to put together with my fumble-fingers. I knew he was supposed to sit up but I thought he might need something to lean on so first off I sat him next to Arwin. She gave me 'The Look', so I hastily moved him and found he could sit unaided after all.

Cati sent me some nice photos this week of her children that are helped by ASADIS. Several years ago, when Gema was due to start school, I liaised between Cati, Gema's parents and The Lions group, when The Lions bought her a walking frame. At first her muscles were not strong enough for her to use it, but this year, the special needs class at the village school, has an excellent teacher, and he works with Gema in the walker every day, under the guidance of the physio therapist. One of the other children is helping out as well. 

She is gaining confidence now and although the teacher told me that she still needs help with her 'equilibrium', she can now stand unaided and is taking her first independent steps, which is great news. The teacher takes the children outside each day to talk about the weather, clouds etc, and I think in this picture she is laughing at her own shadow.

Yesterday was another local celebration know as the Day of the Old (or of the Grandparents). It is only celebrated in this region of Andalucía, and takes the form of a picnic, up at the area around the sports centre in our village. The origin of this was to give the workers one day when they could break their forty days of fasting for Lent, to enable them to continue working efficiently for the whole time. But around here, the picnic ends with the children all using sticks to break open pinatas made in the shape of old ladies, to get the sweets out of their heads. (Sometimes referred to jokingly as 'bash a granny day'!). It is a strange ritual, and one that I have not been able to learn any reason for, but it is a tradition which goes ahead regardless of the weather or anything else. We often take a picnic and go up there for a while. It is fun to watch the children enjoying it. But this year it was cold and windy and we opted to stay at home. However the Town Hall posted some photos today and it seems a lot of families wrapped up warm and sat enjoying a family picnic. Here is just one of the Grannies who was awaiting her fate.
Some families make their own figures, and other are made by a local day centre and sold in the village shops. Cati went into school and helped her little friends to make one, and she sent me this picture of them all.

Because there have been some clouds this week, we have almost had some pretty sunsets, but the clouds have been too thick by evening on some days. However, there was a lovely peachy pink colour in the sky when I was walking round to my Intercambio group on Tuesday, so I took a photo just to have a different skyline from the usual one in our back yard!
I then turned around and took this one,because I just love the shape of the big, old olive tree  on the rough ground where we start our dog walk each morning. If it were a cultivated tree, it would not have been allowed to grow this big. They are kept small to make picking the olives easier.

I turned out to be the first one at the group, so I continued walking for a bit,  and soon the sky colour deepened and turned pink. My Spanish friend came round the corner and saw me taking the photos, and she told me that in Spain, when the sky is that colour, then they say that the next day will be windy. So I told her our little rhyme "Red sky at night, shepherd's delight: Red sky in the morning, shepherd's warning". But she insisted it wouldn't be a nice day on Wednesday, just windy, and I think she was nearer the truth than I was!
And finally one from last night. After an afternoon of really black clouds that I was sure would drop rain on the pic-nics, it started to clear, and the wind split the clouds into layers giving us this stripey sky.
It has taken me ages to write this tonight. My computer wasn't in the mood to cooperate! So now I will just link up with Annie's Friday Smiles and Rocking Your World, and go and see what others have been up to this week.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Rocking Your World 2017:Week 11

Let's start this week with two gorgeous smiley faces. These are my two lovely great-grandsons, Isaac and Alfie. They just love one another so much, and looking at them together, you just have to smile.

We have had another week that has been dominated by the weather. I seem to go on about the weather a lot, and I do appreciate that many of my readers have more than their share of rotten weather all the time, but out here we just don't expect it to deviate so far from the norm. And this year it seems to have forgotten the plot altogether. Here's an example of what I mean. These photos belong to a friend and they were taken at a place called Velos Rubio, just a few kilometers inland, and higher up, from us. The first was taken last Saturday.
The almond blossom looks so pretty against a blue, blue sky. The second one was taken in exactly the same place, just two days later, on Monday. Some difference!

Well we are not high enough above sea level to see the snow, but we got rain instead. It started Sunday night and just kept going, and the temperature dropped too. On Monday afternoon I thought I'd go for a little look around as we had been indoors all day. The rain on my face was like icicles hitting me and it really hurt! So I didn't stay out long but I did just grab a picture of our usually dry and dusty ramble with a small stream in it.
Then I walked across it by the bridge that runs alongside the main road passed our village, and I saw this water fall. The large volume of water shooting out of the lower tunnel is coming from the flood drains installed below ground when our road was completely restructured a few years ago, which at least shows the system is working well, as there was no flooding in the village at all. The higher waterfall is from the gulleys along the road that take the surface rain away from the carriageways.They are also working well.
Other places are not as well protected as us, and there was bad flooding along the coast at Alicante, and other resorts. It continued to rain for much of the next night and into Tuesday and many roads were closed off for a while until it had subsided a bit, but the motorway was clear so we were able to keep an appointment with a friend who we were meeting at a hotel just off the main road.

We had little damage at our house but we did nearly lose our beautiful jasmine. The weight of water made it hang down from the wall and snapped the wire that holds it. So on Wednesday, Chris and I man-handled it back up and put temporary strings across to hold it there. When it has finished flowering for this year, we will prune it back hard and put a new trellis on the wall ready for next year. At least it is still alive, and still filling our house with its lovely perfume.

Of course it is not all bad, and the agricultural workers must be happy to start the Summer season with the reservoirs full.

Today we drove a little way to Vera, and we saw there is still a lot of water covering the fields and in the ramblas, but the sun has been trying to shine for the latter part of the week, and once the water has gone, everything is going to grow 'a mile a minute'. It is not just green now, it is positively lush, something we are not used to seeing and it makes a nice change. I am hoping it warms up again soon though as we have two lots of visitors coming in April, who will want to see and feel the sun.

I had a little accident with the car on Sunday in the church car-park, when I reversed out of my parking space and bumped a friends car. Sadly I dented her door so it needed an insurance claim to repair it. However I managed to fill out the claim form all in Spanish which was quite an achievement, and I am grateful to my friend for taking it all so well, and to my husband who hasn't complained at all, and I know he won't keep throwing it at me every time I want to drive anywhere, like some men would. It was entirely my fault, but I am glad we are on the way to putting it right again, and thankfully no-one was hurt.

We had a session at the vets this week - not really to see the vet, but to visit the groomer who has a room in the surgery. We had our big boy Kim trimmed and bathed. I do brush him regularly, but only as far as his haunches. Any further and he warns me off in no uncertain terms, so he needed his back end trimmed. Because of his size they muzzled him, which he doesn't like at all, but I warned them he may need it. Even so it took two of them to get him trimmed. Then the girl bathed him but when they tried to dry him, he got so stressed that they rang us to ask us to take him home still wet. He is such a softie, and new things always upset him. Anyway we fetched him home and he looked lovely. His coat is much tidier, but right then he was all fluffy and cuddly. Luckily the sun decided to show its face, so he soon dried.
We also took Arwen with us for her twice a year shave. She is beautiful, but like most Persian cats, her fur mats very close to her skin, and she is not very friendly so I can only give her a quick brush when she is almost asleep, and she soon starts hissing and scratching. It is kinder to her and to me, to let the vet put her to sleep for a while so the groomer can go all over her quickly. I always ask her to try and leave some fur on her face, tail and feet, so here is my little puss in boots. I think that look is her just daring me to laugh at her!
I actually think she looks rather cute, and she is much happier without her woolly coat. Her fur is as soft as silk, but when it mats the clumps are quite hard and must be uncomfortable for her to lie on. She slept most of yesterday, but today she wanted to go out on the windowsill and soak up the sun.

So having been house-bound for much of the week, I have been working on a few bits for my craft table at the end of the month. I made a paper sculpture picture for the frames that my sister sent me, and also down-sized the cutting file to make a matching card. You can read more about how they were made on my other blog HERE.
I also did some crochet to make these little drawer scenters. They each have a small bar of soap in them. I found working with fine cotton on these small projects quite difficult. My fingers are not as nimble as they used to be, but I am hoping to get some more done in the next week or two.
So at least I used my time more productively than I would have done if the sun had been out every day.

And now I will just link up with Annie's Friday Smiles, and Rocking Your World, and then it is time to go and feed the zoo.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Rocking Your World 2017: Week 10

Hi folks. yes I have remembered it is Friday this week, so here are a few positives taken from the last few days.

Here is my rather strange smile for this week. Those who follow my blog regularly will know that my son Ben had an accident on his push-bike a few weeks ago which, amongst other things,  left him with two broken wrists. The right one needed an operation and he now has a fair-sized metal plate in it, but today he had the dressing removed and what made me smile was not that it has healed so well, though that of course is a real positive, but the fact that when the nurse removed the dressing, and accidentally removed a patch of skin as well (!) she put a Star Wars plaster on it. (Ben is a young man of thirty years old). I'd have thought they might reserve those for the children. Of course he will be wearing a wrist brace for a couple of months yet, but at least he can shower properly now, and even have a swim while he is on holiday if he feeling brave.

Our week got off to a good start with a party on Saturday night for my choir's second birthday. We have come a long way in that time. We all had our partner or a friend with us, so there was quite a crowd. We met in a local, family run bar, and they put on a splendid buffet for us. We were grouped around tables, but there was plenty of mingling and chatting done as well. These are just a couple of pictures I took as I walked around the room.

The man in a red jumper in this one is David Murphy, our musical director.

Natalie, one of our sopranos, made a cake and cut it up into enough pieces for us all to enjoy.

March now has us really feeling like Summer is on the way, but not until it had come in "like a lion...". We started the week with some really nice sunny mornings that deteriorated by tea-time, into grey and windy evenings. The storms roll in quickly and I sat and watched this one forming.
The sky got dark so quickly, and in the picture below you can see a flock of little birds hastily heading home to the shelter of the trees. (You may have to click on the picture to enlarge it, to see them properly).

These storms usually pass as quickly as they come, but they do leave a chill in the air for that night.
However, things are looking up now. We have had some beautiful days, and it is so much warmer. It was almost up to 30º today! We have spent time doing some more tidying up outside. Chris has done one layer of stain on the chairs we bought, and they already look a lot better.
I picked up a bargain in a sale at an English shop in Turre. They had several offers on bedding, and I got a new duvet and pillow case pack, and some cotton fitted sheets which will nice for the summer. So this week, I picked a sunny day and gave them a quick rinse through and by lunch time they were dry and folded ready for me to get on the bed tomorrow. I like to buy bedding at the English shop because we brought our English bed out with us, and the Spanish ones are a different size so their bedding doesn't fit so well.

I went shopping as usual this morning, and I came home with what I went for, plus a box of new plants.
I love the fact that our garden is in the minority here because I try to always have flowers in it. They take a lot of looking after when it heats up, so many people just have palms and cacti. Right now I have a splendid pot of freesias in bloom. I bought them at a table top sale last year and I am really pleased with the way they have come on this season.
I picked a small bunch to have on our table in the sitting room and it smells lovely when I open the doors in the morning. My Easter lily is in the pot in front of them, and as you can see, that has also decided to bloom, rather earlier than usual this year.

At the beginning of the week Chris pointed out that our pink jasmine which climbs all along the front wall, was also ready to burst open, and now, just a few days later, it is covered, and as you can see from all the darker pink bud, there are lots more flowers to come. The smell is heavenly, and it wafts through the whole house when I open the windows. We hear people commenting on it as they walk by, because you really cannot just ignore it. It amazes me afresh every year.

So why did I buy more plants today? Well there is always room for another pot in my garden, and when I drive past a garden centre, my resistance is low. As we don't have mains gas in our village, and electricity is too expensive to use for everything, we mostly have some appliances that run on bottled butane gas. For us that is the water heater, the cooker hob, and the fire in the sitting room. Whenever possible the bottles are housed outside and the gas fed in through a tube, so we have one for the fire right outside our window on the front of the house. Partly to hide it (the bottles are bright orange), and partly to shelter it from any extremes of weather, it is inside a little stone and wood house, and I have a pot of plants sitting on this, which are now rather tired and old. So I bought this little broom to replace them. It has small flowers that are very delicate, and will give us a different colour spot for a month or so. Then I may have to add a few summer annuals around it until next year.

I also bought two types of lavender plants to go in a pot round the back, by the new chairs. They smell lovely and are said to repel flies which will be a bonus.
The small and large bright orange daisies are succulents. Their colour is quite harsh but they blend in with everything else and they will have loads of flowers on them in a week or two. And the little pink ones are more baby kalanchoes. They are so robust and flower for ever. I will try to get outside for a while tomorrow to plant them up.

I have been busy this week trying to make a few things for a table at my friends coffee morning soon. I have a few bits and pieces now but still need to get more done. I wanted to try something I had seen in a shadow box frame but I have not been able to find any of these out here. When I am in UK I buy them at the Range where they are very cheap, but I don't have room in my case to bring back many. I went to The Range website and apparently they send to ten European countries, but not to Spain!? So my lovely sister Jean has stepped in and bought some for me, and the parcel is winging its way over to me as I write this. (There are other companies who sell them, who will deliver here, but their prices are more than treble the prices at The Range).

Anyway, that just leaves me with some lovely sunsets for you to enjoy. Earlier in the week, when the clouds were around, there were some stunning evening skies. As I have taken many like this  before, I concentrated on my favourite style of using the surrounding foliage etc as black silhouettes against the sky, so here we go.

I haven't forgotten that I said I would show last week's carnival photos today, so I will link up with Rocking Your World, and Annie's Friday Smiles first, and then I will add a few from the carnival. They don't need much explanation. Just enjoy seeing other folk having some fun. I love the way the tiny children and their parents all join in. The man from the Farmacia always does something daft with his friends, and one family group together to do a display that has their wheelchair-based son at the centre. This year he was a very splendid Neptune. The Granny in her bed had to come out of her mask for some air every now and then, and there were a lot of Red Riding Hoods and Wolves following on behind her.