Well I've only been missing for two weeks, but it seems much longer than that. So I am afraid this post is very photo heavy as I try to give you a quick round-up of my time away.
I am sure most of you are aware that the main reason for my trip to UK was to celebrate my 70th birthday with all my family around me, and that is what I did. Everyone was there except for our lovely daughter-in-law Ella, who sadly was too poorly. She really tried to make it, but half way on the drive over, she knew she needed to go back home, so my son took her back and then came on his own. Otherwise, all our children, grand-children and great-grandchildren were there, as well as some friends from our home town, and the group photo is now my blog header for a while.
We had a lovely day together, just chilling, eating, and drinking, and enjoying being together. In fact I was so busy chatting to everyone, that I took very few photos, but here are some of my favourites from what I did take.
Firstly, we did update the "four generations" photo with me, son number two, my grand-daughter, and my two lovely great-grandsons.
Mike and Tom taking charge of the food.
Two of the youngest guests tucking into it.
Ben and Jonathan discussing the possibilities of Ben's new camera.
A father and son moment - our eldest son Jim and his youngest son Amias.
Our grand-daughter Emma and her brother Mikey doing what brother's and sisters do best.
Mummy and Grandad helping little Alfie to bounce his dinner down, watched by 'Great-uncle Tom!
A fire pit is a must when our lot get together. The wood was damp so it took a while to get it going.
We were glad of it when the evening came, for the light it gave us and the warmth.
A bit of sparkle to add to the fun.
My absolute favourite of the day, taken just before we all went home, which proves that it is us oldies that have more stamina than the young ones!! They were so asleep that I managed to climb in and sit between them without them waking up.
The day ended on a high note with some good news for our grandson Amias. A while ago he was elected as Youth MP for Wolverhampton, and the day before the party he was at a meeting where youth MPs from around the country had the chance to give a speech, in the hope that they might be elected to be a front bench lead speaker in the house of commons on youth parliament day in November. That night, while travelling home on the train, he got the e-mail that said he had been chosen. He is only just 16, so this is a huge achievement for him and we are very proud of him. So is his school, which posted this on facebook.
Sixth Former Amias Perry will be speaking from the
front bench, House of Commons on 10th November as a Youth MP"
The day after the party, I travelled down from the Midlands to Bournemouth to spend a few days with my sister Jean. It didn't go quite to plan, as we had intended driving over to visit my oldest sister and her husband who are both 89 now, and also to visit another brother-in-law who has been ill for a few months and was in a nursing home. Sadly he passed away just before my visit, but through a mammoth effort of organisation from my sister and her daughter, they managed to hold his funeral while I was there. I was so grateful that I was able to be there for my sister, and of course, the rest of my sisters and many of our nieces and nephews also attended, so in many ways it was a good time for me, as I got to see even more of the family than planned, albeit at a rather sadder occasion than anticipated.
That left Jean and I with a spare day and the opportunity to do some retail therapy, so I was able to buy a few bits of crafting items, and some winter clothes, always a bonus when I go over there.
On Friday Jean and I flew back to Spain together. I don't choose to sit by the window, as I am not the best traveller and I don't like seeing it when the plane banks to turn around. But as we don't reserve seats for this fairly short flight, I did find myself by the window that day, and it was interesting to watch the cloud formations as we flew over them, until we approached Spain and the sun broke through again.
Jean comes for a rest, a change of eyesight and hopefully some warm weather, and we managed all of those, spending much of our time, sitting outside chatting, or reading together. But I thought it might do us some good to get some exercise too, so we drove down to the sea front and walked the length of the promenade, and back. It was a lovely day and we both paddled along the water edge. (Jean tied her long skirt in a knot at the front to keep it out of the water and I tucked mine in my knickers! Talk about acting your age. That is more like 7 than 70!). The sun and sea breeze did us good and I took a selfie of us while we were there.
Although my party was on 8th October, because this was the only weekend that all the family were free, my actual birthday wasn't until last Tuesday, so that night we went out for a lovely meal. The restaurant we had intended going to was closed, but we went to another favourite haunt of ours, where the food is just as good.
I had lots of lovely cards, including these ones which were all hand-made.
The beautiful butterfly on the left is Jean's handy-work and the black and white one on the right is a professional print of some encaustic wax work done by my niece Sally. Both Jean and I have tried encaustic work with very little success, but Sally is a very talented artist, and a card company have accepted her work to print for sale.
On Friday I reminded Chris that he had promised to take me back to Castril in the autumn, so I could go up to the statue that presides over this pretty mountain village. So as it was nice day, we set out and arrived there around lunch time. The tourist office was open so we did the statue visit first (access is through the tourist office so you can only go up when it is open). There were a lot of steps, but most of it was a steady, straight-forward climb, and worth it to see the view from up there. Chris took this picture just to prove we made it. The thing we noticed most as we looked down into the valley below, was all the areas of bright yellow, which we later found to be plane trees in their autumn colours. It is not something we see a lot out here as there are few deciduous trees down where we are. Of course, Castril is much higher so they get enough rain for lots of trees to thrive.
I am not posting lots of photos of our day as I showed them all when I visited there with my son Tom in August. If you missed that post you can find it HERE.
But here are just two that I particularly liked.
A rock face that looked very surprised (and not altogether happy) to see me again so soon!
And this one of the water flowing over the top of the rocks. Last time it was as smooth as polished glass, but this time, fallen leaves broke the flow of water so it reflected the light in different ways making this blue and yellow pattern. As we were walking down to the start of the gorge I saw these two old men and I had to ask if I could take their photo. They smiled and shrugged (as if they thought I was daft), but nodded, so here they are. The one on the left is shelling almonds the 'old way' with a block and hammer. That's hard work. Almonds grow plentifully out here, and for a couple of months you can take them to an almond factory which shells them for you. The shells burn well and are sold on as fuel. But if you just have one tree in your garden, I guess this how you do it. At least he had a friend to talk to as he worked.
We were tired the next day, but we were up early as I had entered a couple of items into the craft section of a community fair up near Albox, and I had to get my entries there by 9.30. We went back home for lunch and then returned in the afternoon and I was pleased to find my 'Sophie blanket' had been awarded first place in the crochet section.
All too soon, Monday came around and it was time to take Jean to the airport for her flight home. It was another early start, and it was still dark when we left home, but I was hoping she would get one more glimpse of the sun before she left. It really tried, but it was a cloudy morning and all we saw was a golden edge to the clouds.
But right at the last minute, it finally did break through. I am glad it did because she said it was cold and miserable when she got home.
I am afraid I didn't even get around to visiting anyone last week, but now I will link up with Annie's Friday Smiles and Rocking Your World, and have a catch-up on what you have all been doing.