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.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Rocking Your World 2017: Week 24

Hi to all my dear friends and family. On a week such as this, when the news has been filled with horror, anger and grief, it can be hard to find anything that 'Rocked your world' in a good way. But here we are at our usual Friday spot, so let's look back at the last few days, and dig out those heart-warming moments that keep us all going.

Well Sunday was a good day. We are still, (and likely to be for some months to come) in a state of 'inter regnum' at our church, which means that we are without a vicar, so we are inviting a stream of locums to come for a few weeks each, to keep us going until a replacement can be found. I have to say, we have had some lovely visiting clergy, who, as well as leading our worship,  have joined in with everything we do. But there is always a question mark in our minds when a new one arrives, as they are all 'unknown quantities' to us. This Sunday was no exception, and there was an added tinge of uncertainty as we had been told our next visiting priest was an American lady in her eighties! As people arrived for the service there was a lot of anticipatory chatter in the congregation.

But we need not have worried. She was delightful. She was thoroughly enjoying our sunshine and heat without the humidity of her home in Florida. She came with her husband who was also very friendly, and they happily posed for our resident photographer.
After the service we had a bring-and-share lunch to welcome them, and as usual the table was weighed down with a wide range of food for us all to enjoy.

The whole week we have enjoyed clear blue skies, and although the temperature has been in the mid thirties every day, we have managed to get things done when we needed to, and siesta or cool down in the pool when there was nothing urgent to do.

Each morning we walk the dogs, earlier now before it gets too hot, and we take them passed the new roundabout being built at the front of the village, so we can check on its progress. Even when we are there just after 8.00, the men are already busy. The main structure has been built, and this week they have been building it up in two layers.
It is a long oval, rather than a circle, and although we are not quite sure haw the various roads will lead into it, they have built some islands to divide the lanes.
This morning we saw four olive trees with large root balls, stacked at the side of the centre, and one had been planted in the top level.
When I drove passed it on my way home tonight, the men were busy planting the last one. (Just to the right of the Stop sign).
Across the centre of the oval there is a wide channel which will be a pedestrian crossing for people wanting to walk from the village to the urbanisation of Huerta Nueva on the other side of the main road. This road carries a constant stream of big lorries on their way to Garrucha docks, and it is very dangerous to cross at busy times. There have been a few fatalities there, hence the new roundabout. We are looking forward to it being complete, as it will give us a nicer and safer walk with the dogs each morning.

So what else has made me smile this week. 
Well it was lovely to call in to see a friend who has recently had a hip replacement, and is only just feeling up to receiving visitors. So we called in on our way to choir practice on Wednesday evening, and had a good catch-up.

I have spent several days with my friend Elspeth, doing more packing for her, and I am happy to say it is almost done now. I think she has agreed to return to UK a bit earlier than she planned, where she will have her two sons to help her. I shall miss her when she is gone, but it will be a lot better for her.

Being taken out to lunch by my husband, yesterday and today. Poor Chris must be feeling a bit neglected and is probably tired of waiting until mid-afternoon for his dinner. And for me it is two days when I don't have to work in the heat of the kitchen, so win-win for both if us.

Little things like the vast blue sky each day; the light breeze that cools us down; the smell of hot earth when I hose the plants; finding a baby mandarine on our new tree when I thought it was barren this year. I hope it hangs on in there, so we can share it come the Autumn!
Finding a couple of light cotton day-dresses in Turre market so I can throw away some of last year's faded ones.

Managing to fit a bit of card-making around everything else, even if I haven't had time to write a blog post about them.

And finally catching a beautiful sunset one teatime, which came to a very fiery end.

So now I will link up with Annie's Friday Smiles and Rocking Your World. I hope you have also found something to smile at. If so follow me and share your smiles too.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Rocking Your World 2017: Week 23

Hi folks. Here we are at the end of another fairly ordinary week, which has flown on wings, and passed before I noticed it.

On Monday, when I was still trying to kick start myself to catch up on neglected housework, I took delivery of not one, but three parcels.
I knew the big squidgy white pillow was full of wool. I know, I know! I showed you my stash of wool a couple of weeks ago, and you are probably wondering why I needed more, but when I was sorting it into colours, I also sorted a bag of the right shades to complete a couple of projects, and there were some I needed more of. Also Stlyecraft have brought out three more colours in lovely soft shades of vintage rose, buttermilk and mushroom, so I needed one of each of those to complete my collection.
The little grey parcel contained 100 tiny gold, organza bags which I managed to find on ebay. They are not the sort of thing I can find in any of the shops out here. And then there is the large cardboard box which weighed a ton, and caused some raised eyebrows from the lady who delivered it. Inside was a huge jar of jelly beans! So if you have ever wondered what 4kg of jelly beans looks like, it is this.

I took the beans and the bags to my craft group on Wednesday and came home with these.
Seventy-five bags each with around 20 jelly beans in it. (I didn't need the last twenty-five so they have gone away for use in the future). These little babies will be coming with me to UK in a few weeks time, along with the seventy-five favour boxes still flat packed that I have made, and on the first night I am there, we will be assembling the boxes and popping a bag in each, ready for my sons wedding at the weekend. I will eventually show a photo of the Invitations, Boxes, Guest book and Post box that I have made, but not until after the event.

It has been very hot this week, so I haven't managed to do very much, but on Tuesday, Chris suggested we went down for a walk along the Playa before it got too dark. So we were down there around 8 o'clock which is a funny time because what holiday makers there are, have mostly left the beach and returned to their hotel or apartment to get ready for their evening meal, and the local youngsters don't emerge until much later, so it is fairly quiet, with just a handful of oldies like us, out for an evening stroll. There is a good wide promenade along most of the sea-front and we stayed on that. I was very tempted to dip my toes in the sea but I had a new pair of sandals on and I didn't want to put sandy feet back into them, so I resisted the urge. We walked right to the end of the beach and sat on the wall to rest before walking back again. Then we sat in a beach front bar to have a drink before driving home. We had a lovely view around the bay where the sun was still reaching a few of the buildings, though it had gone from us.
It stayed really warm all evening. I must say it is nice to go out at night and still feel comfortable in just a summer dress with no sleeves. I paid the price with several insect bites on my arms. They come looking for me, but Chris doesn't get bitten at all. It is actually nicer to be outside than indoors in the evenings now. This room is very warm and I have the ceiling fan going as well as a big floor fan on me now.

The next day it was a bit overcast. They had forecast a slight chance of rain, but of course, that didn't come. But it was just cloudy enough to give us a pretty sky at dusk. I took these two out at the back of us. The sky was such a pretty colour, and the little birds were swooping around, and coming in to nest for the night. 

I stayed out for while and I saw the moon rising. I spent a while trying to get a photo of it. This was the best one. It was just beginning to wane, and I was quite pleased with the detail I managed to get on my little camera.

For the past couple of days I have been busy trying to help a friend pack up her house. She is a widow in her eighties and quite frail, and her sons want her to move back to UK nearer to them. One of them came over and did quite a lot of packing for her last week, but now she is on her own again, and she is really struggling. And the hot weather is just making everything more difficult. So I spent a lot of time yesterday, emptying her cupboards and double wrapping tea and dinner services. Today I went back and did some more, but she was not at all well and I persuaded her to go to bed and rest while I got with on with it. I don't want to see any more bubble wrap for quite a while!
We have got a big stack of boxes that are ready now. Her hall is almost full. Tomorrow I will pick up a few bits at the shops for her, while I am out doing my own shopping, and then I will leave her in peace for the weekend. She has a hospital appointment on Monday which I think will be quite enough for her for that day, so I am going back on Tuesday to climb the ladder and empty the top cupboards all round the kitchen so she can sort out what she wants to keep, and I'll get that packed for her.

And that's it for another week. I have spent half the evening chatting with my sister on Skype, so blame Jean if I don't get this posted before midnight. I've already missed midnight out here, but I might just make it before midnight in UK.

Finally here is a lovely sunset I caught yesterday. The sky was overcast so there wasn't much colour in it, but how lovely and tranquil it is all the same.

Before I go I had better just link this to Rocking your World on Virginia's blog, and Annie's Friday Smiles.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Rocking Your World; Week 22

Well, if this picture doesn't start you off with a smile, nothing will!

I saw it on Facebook and I really laughed. From my own experience with them, I can say that with Persian cats, there is not a lot of cat under all the fur, and of course, Arwen is half the size just after one of her shaves.

Tango was sitting on my lap this afternoon and I showed it to him. I don't think he was amused!
Perhaps he thought I was going to bath him!

Well cats and water don't usually mix very well, but Arwen is a bit odd this Spring/Summer. She has lived in my craft room ever since I rescued her in 2010, when she looked like this.
She had had a dreadful life, and by choice she has not really left my room since then, although the door is almost always open. She lays by the open window and watches the rest of the animals but that is all. But this Spring she has stared coming down the passageway to sit in Chris's office or the kitchen, and even followed me outside once, but she hisses at the other cats and runs back in when she sees them.
She is a bit of a grazer so I leave her food always available, and next to it there is a bowl of water, which is constantly renewed because she has a urinary tract condition and it is important that she drinks enough. But this week her water bowl remained untouched, and instead she has been sitting in the bath, appealing with her big green eyes for us to turn the tap on. We let it run gently and she stands lapping it for several minutes at a time. And then she goes back to her space on my work desk and licks her feet until they are dry! She's an odd one! I tried to get a picture of her last night but the light was not good, and her little pink tongue moves so fast you can hardly see it.
I will have to be careful what I leave on my desk if she is going to be jumping on it with wet feet too often.

This has actually been another quiet week because I found I needed more time to rest quietly to shake off this virus.
I have been starting my morning by taking my cup of tea, and sometimes my breakfast, round to the back of the house, which is partially shaded, and pleasantly cool early on.
I sit and enjoy watching the little birds diving around over the green zone, and the occasional cat, stalking through the long grass. (Sorry. It is almost the same as last week's photo but it was taken on a different day).
Across the road from the front of our house, the people are having a new swimming pool built so there has been a constant flow of diggers, and lorries of sand or gravel up and down, and on top of that, there is the major road work being done on the main road at the bottom of the village, but out at the back, none of that can be heard. There are no people moving around across the green zone, and hardly ever a voice that reaches me. If I turn slightly to the right I can see the pretty double oleander in bloom, and beyond that a few houses which are empty for most of the year, and in the distance are the Cabrera mountains with their ever changing colours. And it struck me how very blessed I am to have this little oasis of calm and tranquility to go to, to recharge my batteries when I need to.

Just beyond the back railings there is a small strip of land which is part of our ground, but it is not usable as it slopes steeply down to rocks and piles of dead wood. We throw plants over there that we no longer want in the garden, but don't like to throw away, and sometimes they take root, sometimes they die. The most successful of these is the cacti that had to be moved from near the front gate, because it caught on our skin and clothes, as well as the dogs fur. Since being there, it has produced lots of new growth, and every years it has very pretty yellow flowers along each 'ear'. They are out at the minute, and the bright pink bougainvillea that we are encouraging to grow along the railings, had dropped one branch out across the cacti. The yellow and pink together look really pretty.
From where I was standing, behind the railings, I thought each flower had a bright beetle in it, so I zoomed in on one to take a picture and it turned out to be a green centre to the flowers!

Apart from some essential food-shopping yesterday, I have not left the house much all week, but I did drive down to Mojacar late on Monday afternoon, to run a small errand for a lovely friend of mine, who is moving back to UK to be with her son. She is elderly and is finding the heat this week makes it difficult for her to do the things that need to be done. Fortunately her son has come over to help for a few days, but I felt the drive was something I could manage. 
When I got down there the sea was lively enough to be interesting and the sand was smooth and very Empty! Holiday season is July and August out here, but this was half term holiday in UK so I expected there to be more tourists around. Again I was struck by our good fortune, to have such a lovely area to live in, with a beautiful beach nearby, and just enough people to make it feel like a lively community, but none of the crowds that can spoil a sea-side location.
If you can enlarge this you may just see a handful of folk on the spit of sand in the distance, but that is all.
I have to admit that when I got back home, I felt as though I had done a lot more than a twenty minute drive, and I ended up sleeping on the settee for an hour before tea, which made me realise that I wasn't quite ready to  get back into my usual busy life.

My only regret from a restful week, is that I missed an event last weekend that I would have liked to attend. Our church is one of a 'family of three' all very small but all part of the same Chaplaincy. The original one is outside Mojacar, and a second one is at Aljambra, way out in the campo beyond Albox. Our is the newest one, being only three years old. The one at Aljambra is the smallest with a congregation of between half a dozen and twenty people, but this was their tenth anniversary, and they celebrated with a flower festival. It was well supported by businesses in Albox as well as individuals who all donated flower arrangements, and from the photos I have seen, it looks as though it was lovely. People from all the Chaplaincy churches supported them.
Cut flowers are quite a luxury out here, and of course, most have a fairly short life, but these really do look beautiful. I was sorry not to get to see them, but I am glad it was a success. One of my friends had led the preparations, and I know how much work she had put in to it.

The upside of being at home more is that I have had plenty of craft time so I have managed to finish the favour boxes for my son's wedding and make the cover for their guest book. There is just a post box to make now. (I have ordered 4kg of jelly beans from Amazon which should arrive early next week. Then I will have to make the fillings for my little boxes so they are ready to fold together when I get to UK). I also had time to make a couple of cards, one for one of my sisters who will be 89 later this month, and one for a challenge that I am guest designer for in July. I will be writing posts about them both on my craft blog very soon.

I had a crafty surprise this week too. I don't expect mail very often. Apart from the odd craft stamp or die, very little arrives in an envelope for me, so when Chris checked our box yesterday and handed me an envelope, I was very surprised. And I was even more surprised when I saw what was inside. Not one, but two lovely ATCs; one from our dear friend Annie, and one from her sister Jo. It is a long time since I had a new ATC and I am thrilled to bits with them. What clever friends I have made in blogland!
It gave me a lovely lift at the end of a rather dull week!

As I am finally beginning to feel that I am back on track, I went down to Turre market this morning. There are lovely cherries around now, and the first of the peaches and nectarines. Something we could not buy here at all when we first came out, are raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries, but they are now available in Lidls and occasionally some of the other supermarkets, so I came home with a mixture of them all and this afternoon I made ten jars of mixed summer fruits jam. It is not something I have made before, and I am not likely to again, as the berries come in very small punnets and are too expensive to use for jam very often, but it has set well, and it should have a good flavour. I put one jar in the fridge so it would cool enough to try at tea time! (Update - It tasted very good. Even Hubby approved!)
I like the way the bottom of the jars are picking up the sun from the window. The pink in the background is the more common mauve bougainvillea that still grows abundantly along the side fence, despite us cutting it almost to the ground last autumn.

So that's another week gone. Four more and we are half way through the year.

I will finish with two more little smiley faces. Not my photos of course, but their mummy keeps me up to date with regular photos. They are of course, my two great-grandsons who I last saw almost two years ago, when Alfie was still a baby. I love this photo of him among the daisies.

And here is his brother who looks more like his daddy in every photo I get. They are such happy little fellows and always have a smile for the camera.

They are coming out to visit us in August, and I am really looking forward to the opportunity to get to know them properly.

Right so now it is time to link up with Annie's Friday Smiles and Rocking Your World. I hope to see you there.