Friday, June 15, 2018

Rocking Your World; Week 24

As I have little news this week, I am starting my post with two pictures that have caught my eye on social media, and made me smile!

Firstly this one with the caption: Brexit: Britain leaves Europe and sails off into the sunset!

And secondly, this one with the caption,
See what happens when you cut down all the trees!

Well here we are another week further on, and what a hot one it has been. We are now averaging around 27º, with some afternoons topping the 30º mark. I've even managed to get into the pool a couple of times. We have invested in an exercise machine. I am not one for going to the gym, or jogging down the street, but I am aware that my life is becoming rather sedentary, so hopefully this will enable me to do a little gentle exercise every day. And it is a great incentive when you know you can dive straight into a cooling pool after each session. My weight fluctuates very little, whatever I eat, so I am not expecting great changes there, but I am hoping to keep my diabetes under control. We shall see!

I have finished Part 4 of my Cosmic blanket. (There are 9 parts including the border so I have a way to go yet). But now it really is time to pack it away until next Autumn. I really like the pattern and am very pleased with how it is going so far.
There have been some new stitches and techniques to learn along the way, and the most challenging for me was the ruffle stitch. I have done it already on an earlier round, but here it is again on the final round of part 4.
You can see how my hot hands are making the wool go fluffy, so it is definitely the right decision to put it away for now.

My new fur-baby is settling in well. He voluntarily came and sat on my lap one evening, though he kept a wary eye on Tango, asleep on the back of the settee.
But he soon decided that Tango was not a threat, and he settled down too. He is a lot heavier on my knees than any of the other cats.
Charlie and Tango are tolerating each other fairly well, but Paco is less inclined to make him welcome, and he really doesn't like the dogs.
Today he was really brave and followed me down to my very untidy craft room, usually the sole domain of Arwen, who is not the friendliest cats at the best of times. But after a half-hearted hiss or two, they took a desk each and settled down really well together.

And that just leaves me with a final update on my lovely new kitchen. The men came yesterday and did the finishing touches, and everything is now back in place. Chris spent this morning putting up the towel rail, utensil rail and paper towel dispenser, and at last I feel I have my kitchen back - only even better.
So here are what I promise will be the last two photos.

There are no Annie's Smiles to link up with today as Annie is enjoying a well-deserved holiday.
And no Virginia either yet, but I'll keep a look out and link up later if she does post.
Now linked up at Virginia's blog.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Rocking Your World 2018; Week 23

As I left you last week I was just on my way to Albox for the final choir event of this season. We opened the Albox music festival, with almost an hour of singing in a beautiful old church in the centre of the city. It is the one event when we have a good number of Spanish families in the audience as well as the British and other Europeans. They really seemed to enjoy our music, the majority of which were sung in English, though we did three numbers in Spanish this time. It just goes to show that music is its own language, and can be enjoyed by everyone.
After the meal, we were taken to the 'third age' club room and given a lovely meal. Jugs of beer and wine, and lots of tasty dishes were brought out to share, and there was more than enough for everyone, with plenty of time to chat to friends as well. It was a great way to end a lovely evening.

It is really hotting up here now and we have had some very warm sunny days, but warm cloudy ones too, and very high winds in the evenings. One night there were huge storms all around us, with local flooding, but they all seemed to just miss us which was a blessing. One evening we actually managed to have a bit of a decent sunset. They have been few and far between, so I made sure to capture it.

On Tuesday afternoon we had an e-mail to tell us the man was coming to fit the granite worktops in the kitchen, at 8.00 the next morning, so we had to get up a bit earlier than usual. I went out to open the flap door for the dogs, and that day there was 'almost' a sunrise!
Fortunately those clouds soon melted away to give us another lovely day.
The men arrived as promised. Their workmate who came to measure up the week before, had done a good job, and the tops were soon fitted. Then the 'kick-boards' were put in place (in the same granite), and the hob and sink were placed in their relevant holes. In the afternoon our two workmen were back to connect them up so we are almost done now. We are still waiting for a piece to fit the tall narrow cupboard, and the new fridge/freezer is coming on Monday afternoon. Then it will just be a bit of filling and sealing, and the ceiling needs a top coat of paint, but with some of my equipment in place it is beginning to feel like my kitchen again now.

Normally the cats spend the night in the kitchen and utility space, with a cat flap so they can get out if they want to. As it gets warmer they tend to sleep for much of the day, so they like to go out and hunt, and play at night, and now they are all fairly traffic savvy, we let them. But while the kitchen has been in turmoil, and the hall has been full of boxes of furniture etc, we have left the door to the sitting room open, so they can sleep in there if they want to. Luna has her favourite place to be, and she has been asleep there most mornings. She has made her own little nest there and looks so comfortable.

I was told I could now start filling the drawers and cupboards in the kitchen, so I have been bringing items back out, one crate at a time. One evening I left an empty crate on the top, and Tango soon made it his. (If I fits, I sits!). Chris found him there in the morning.
He doesn't look as comfy as Luna, but he wasn't impressed to be disturbed.
We have a new fur-baby to add to our family this week. His name is Charlie, and he is a beautiful Norwegian Forest cat.
He is a big boy with an absolutely beautiful tail, which this picture doesn't do justice to. He belongs to a dear friend who is moving back to the UK because her husband is very ill, and he wants to see her settled near her daughter. She felt that Charlie was too old to cope well with the journey and the change in climate, plus she will be living with her daughter (and her feisty dog), for the first few months until her 'granny flat' is ready. So I said I would be his retirement home, and yesterday we drove over to collect him.
He is a bit unsettled yet, and looks for places to hide in. He is not keen on the dogs, but is getting on well with our cat Paco, so we are hoping he will soon settle in. I am not sure if I will be keeping him yet, as my friends husband took a turn for the worse last night and is in hospital, so we are waiting to see whether he will be well enough for the long journey to UK on Sunday. If she ends up staying here for a while longer, I think she will want him with her, so we will have to wait and see. But he did sit on my lap last night, he has had food and drink, and seems quite content, so I will be happy to be his new family.

And my goodness; It is now time for me to get ready for choir practice. We will continue to meet each week for now, to really get to grips with the songs for the Royal Albert Hall concert in November.
But there is just time to link up with Annie's Friday Smiles and Rocking Your World before I go out.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Rocking Your World 2018: Week 22

I have had a lovely week with so much to smile about, but I shall start will a silly smile because I just love it when I open a new jar of Marmite! It always makes me smile. I was brought up on Marmite, as were my children, and I still love it, and there is something special about breaking the shiny surface of a new pot. It dries up a bit and goes thicker in the heat out here, so I only buy small jars, but even so it takes a while to work through one.

That aside, our week was off to a good start when these two crazies came to stay for a long weekend.
This is our second son Mike and his partner Lucy.
They have two boys each, so usually there are two with them and sometimes all four, but from Friday until Wednesday this week they had none, so took the opportunity to come and relax and do their own thing, which is usually something slightly mad. They did manage to visit several beaches between Alicante airport and our house, and also found a waterfall with a deep pool to jump into from the rocks above. They went sea-water kayaking, swimming with turtles and visited Vera water park, so they made the most of their time.
I had warned them that we would not have a kitchen, but we all went out for a lovely meal on Sunday night, and on Monday we had a 'meat feast' cooked on the barbecue with salad and crusty bread, followed by strawberries and ice-cream and it was too good to stop and take photos!
On Monday we had a trip out together and we went to Mariposario de Nijar, which is a butterfly house about a half hour drive from here. It was so lovely. They have mostly imported tropical butterflies that like our heat, but are not native to Spain. In fact we have very few butterflies here, and I only seem to see them in the autumn, so it was great to see such variety, all flying around happily, laying eggs on the carefully chosen plants, and making their pupa. These were collected for safety and kept hanging in a netted enclosure which was checked hourly so any that had emerged could be released. Here is a collage I made of some of my photos.
Lucy, being a biology teacher, managed to find one that was clearly feeding on the nectar in the flowers.

While the young folk were away kayaking on Sunday afternoon, Chris and I went up to Mojacar Pueblo for the Indalo fiesta. The Indalo symbol is a stick man, holding an arc between his outstretched hands, and he comes from ancient cave drawings found in a cave to the north of here. He has become the symbol of Andalucía and can be seen in fences, as statues in public areas, and on countless tourist items from T-shirts to egg cups and everything in between.
In Mojacar this weekend, local businesses were supplied with a base figure (I am assuming that because they were all the same), and they decorated them with flowers and put a display around their base. Each was numbered and the public were invited to vote for their favourite. Most had dark red mini-carnations on them. This was my favourite because they had made a face on him!
This one was plain and rather dark, but they had made an effort with the display around him.
This was the first one we found, and I liked that too.
Mojacar Pueblo is the little village of white houses (and hotels) that sits on a rock above Mojacar beach. It is a rabbit warren of narrow, steep streets (not passable by vehicles in many places), and flanked on each side by white buildings on several levels. There were flowers everywhere. The walls along every street were hung with potted geraniums in red and pink, and this lovely pink one was around the entrance to one of the many corner bars to be found.

As we turned one corner we were 'wowed' by this glorious bougainvillea tumbling down the side of the buildings. It was exhausting walking around, and we were glad to sit on the top plaza for a cold drink. The view from there, out over towards the sea is breathtaking. It is a shame about the electricity cables, but there is no escaping them out here, and they mar most of my photos.
We decided to take the lazy way down to the car, and walked round to a fairly new lift that takes you to the lower edge of the village and the car parks. These are shaded by trees which can be found in many public areas around here. Twice a year they are pruned hard to keep them circular with a flat top and a hollow centre. That way they cast the maximum amount of shade, and I like watching the men when they are working on them. From the top of the lift shaft I looked down on to one park of these trees and they looked so funny. I thought 'doughnut trees' and when I showed them to Mike and Lucy they said 'polos!
Despite a not too reassuring weather forecast, Mike and Lucy had plenty of sunshine and it was really warm. After our barbecue on Monday we stayed outside until bedtime, and it was very pleasant. Mike loves our animals and the feeling was mutual. Paco, the white and tabby cat, sat on his chest all evening and then Kim decided to climb up too. It was almost more than our sun longer could take! It really is time he stopped believing he is a lap dog!

On Tuesday, they headed back to the airport, taking in more beaches and the water park on their way. Meanwhile Chris and I set off for a place called Saliente alto (high up), which is an ancient monastery on a high hill outside of Albox town. There is a shrine there of the 'Virgen de Saliente', known as the Sanctuario, and our choir had been asked to sing at a wedding there. I asked Chris to drive me up as the road is steep and very winding. It took just over an hour, and this was our first glimpse of our destination.
The mountain ranges we drove through were very brown and dry, but in season they are made beautiful by field after field of almond blossom. This week it was rather barren.
This is the last part of the road we had driven. It was beginning to straighten out again by then, but most of us were glad to be at the end of our journey.
At the front of the building there was a large plaza where the wedding guests were milling around after the service. It was quite windy up there, but the rain held off so everyone was happy.
The building was very ancient and showed many signs of the Moorish influence that abounds in Andalusian history. This was one of several beautiful doors I found.
We were singing up in the choir loft which was surprisingly spacious, but rather chilly. From there we had a good view of the ceremony below. The small shrine behind the altar houses the statue of the Virgin, but it had a glass case which reflected the light, so you can't see her in my photo.
Our singing efforts were greatly appreciated by the wedding families and their guests and we were invited to have refreshments with them in an inner courtyard after the ceremony, before we started back down to home level.
Tonight we have our final choir event for this season. We are opening the Albox music festival in the big parochial church there. So I will have to get myself dressed up soon. I enjoy the performances, and this is a lovely venue. We sang there last year so we know what to expect.

Throughout the week, our two builders have been working on the kitchen. First they put in the supports for the suspended ceiling with spot lights.
That is all finished now and it makes it so much brighter in there.
Then the shells of the cupboards were built and the man came to measure up for the granite work surfaces.
On Thursday most of the cupboard doors were hung, and the oven was fitted into its allotted space. My own microwave went in the box above it. Although it is a sizeable space, the microwave they would have supplied had a wide fascia around it, but was actually much smaller inside than mine, so I decided to stick with mine for now.
Most of the doors were given handles yesterday and the tiles were replaced to fill the gap where the wall was taken down.
The hole on the left will house the hob, and the tall one in the centre, the fridge. The tall, narrow space beside the fridge needs a door that will carry pull-out shelves. There is still a hole in the floor where the wall was taken down, and the granite man has said he will look out a tile the right colour to mend that, and the end of the wall to the right of the fridge, where the door frame to the larder was, still needs to be boxed in. Now I have to be patient until Wednesday when the work tops will be fitted, and then the sink and hob can be fixed and plumbed in, and that will just about be it. I have been told I can start filling the cupboards now, except for the ones under the sink and hob, so I may do some of that over the weekend.
And finally a picture I took in the garden this morning. About three years ago we planted a little tree in a pot in front of our garage. We chose it, without knowing what it was, because it has leaves that are bright green in the spring, but turn deep red when it gets cold. It has fairly insignificant flowers on it and each year it has had a couple of small fruit. I looked it up and it is called a Pitanga or Surinam cherry. Apparently it is edible, and offers considerable health benefits, but although it is not unpleasant, I wouldn't choose it! But this year our little tree had loads of fruit on it, and as they ripen to a deep red, they stand out more.
Here is a close up of the fruit (internet photo).

I think this may be a good year for fruit. Our baby lemon tree has many more lemons on it than we have had before too.
Now I just have time to link up with Annie's Friday Smiles and Rocking Your World. I thought it was odd that I didn't get any comments last week, but I now know I have to go and look for them. What a pain that is! But thank you all for visiting and leaving comments. I do appreciate your continued support.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Rocking Your World 2018: Week 21

Well having missed last week's post altogether, I am now a day late in posting this week's, but I guess that's just how it goes sometimes. As you may know, I was missing last week because I paid a flying visit to UK for a family funeral. I was able to stay at my sister Jean's house for the week, and three of my sons came down from the Midlands to join us. Despite the occasion, it was lovely to meet up with family and friends, both close and more distant, and we had fun trying to match all the small people to their respective parents and grandparents. Such is the size of our family, that we can never keep up with all the extended families. So from that day came my Smile for this week, and I shall treasure it as such photos are few and far between.
This is me (centre back) with my four remaining sisters. I am 'the baby' at a mere seventy years old, and the one front right celebrates her ninetieth birthday in June. Between us we have around 400 years, which is quite something, don't you think? And although we have just given thanks for the life of a very dear brother-in-law, we all still have the 'Sargent smile', Sargent being our maiden name.

Going to the funeral, I traveled in my son's car, and we had some time to spare, so we went by the scenic route, first crossing from Poole on the Sandbanks ferry, and then driving around the hill where the ruins of Corfe castle still stand proud.

This was home territory for me as a child so it brought back lots of happy memories. We then followed some lovely green, leafy roads lined with lush grass and cow parsley, so different from the dry scrub land out here. Our destination was the sea-side town of Weymouth, a lovely spot, which I have also visited on many, many occasions.

After the services and refreshments, when all the 'Good-byes' had been said, my boys each had to drive back up to their homes in the Midlands, but it was a glorious day, so they decided to spend a couple of hours on Weymouth's sandy beach first, and I went down with them. Needless to say two of them ended up in the sea, while the third one, and I at least got our feet wet. The sea was surprisingly warm, and had I had more suitable clothes with me, I might have had a dip too.
Two of them then headed northward, while the third one drove me to back to Jean's house, and stayed for a rest before continuing on to his hotel at Stansted, ready for an early morning flight to Denmark where he lives and works.
The next day, Jean and her husband had arranged to drive our sister Brenda home, about an hour away, so I went along for the ride. Again the countryside was beautiful. I have never seen hawthorn trees quite so laden with may blossom, and they seemed to be everywhere. Brenda lives in a very pleasant ground floor flat with patio doors opening onto a small communal garden area. Each day she puts a plate of food out for the birds, and we sat and watched as a beautiful but greedy wood pigeon made sure he got his share first. But a pair of blackbirds dared to come for theirs too.
Brenda has always loved pansies, and she had such a pretty tub of them just outside her door.
Thursday was my last day, so Jean and I did some shopping in the morning, and after lunch I sat doing my knitting while she made a card for her great-grand-daughter's birthday. 
There is a big Sainsbury's near her house, and I wanted to see their new season's clothes, so we walked there, keeping away from the main road, and using footpaths along the river. I am usually there in the autumn when the bracken is tall and rusty, so it was nice this time to see the new green stems gradually unfurling in the warm sun.
There were lots of wild flowers, especially buttercups,...
..but all the paths were lined with this type of tree. It wasn't a true willow, but it had lots of catkins that were ripe and tuning into fluffy seeds so the air was full of them.
They were also on the heath opposite Jean's house, and looking out of her window it was like seeing a snowstorm. It played havoc with her husband's hayfever, but surprisingly I was not affected by it too much at all.
I flew home the next day, arriving quite late, and then we had a very busy weekend as I had a choir concert on Saturday evening and another one Sunday afternoon. I had to do some basic shopping and washing Saturday morning so I was not able to watch all of the Royal wedding, but I saw highlights, and thought what a lovely couple they made.

This week has been all about the kitchen. The start date was postponed from Monday to Wednesday so I had another couple of days to make sure everything was ready. By Monday night it was quite empty.

It was really strange to see it like that. The dark room to the right is the larder which will cease to exist when the work has been done. Much as I like the idea of it, it is too narrow and difficult to manage, so it never really worked for me.

The men arrived Wednesday morning and by the end of the first day, the wall was reduced to a heap of rubble. The house is well built, and it took a lot of knocking down. Now the rubble has been removed, all the new electric sockets and switches are in place, and there is a new suspended ceiling with spot lights. That is an added bonus that wasn't in the original plan.
This weekend we are going to clean the walls a bit, ready for the shells of the cabinets to be built on Monday.
I feel quite disorientated without a kitchen, but it is exciting to see the new one taking shape.

When I was sitting out at the back with a cup of tea one day, I noticed that the chumba (prickley pear) at the back of our neighbour's garden, is starting to flower. It is an amazing plant, and I think it is a special decorative strain of it, which somehow manages to avoid the white fly that decimates its plainer relative. It is covered in flowers, and although they only live for a day, there is always another one ready to open the next day. The bees love it, and bury themselves right inside each flower, coming out covered in pollen.
I decided to walk down the road and round into the green zone to get a better photo of it, as it was hard to get much of one over our railings. It is a rough old bit of ground, but I managed to get there. The chumba has spread a lot since last year, and now comes right down the bank and onto the floor.
The flowers are red, often fading to yellow with a mass of yellow stamens in the centre.

While I was down there, I also went to the pomegranate tree that I had photographed with a zoom lens from our back yard. The flowers are already turning into fruit , so as some of you had commented on them last time, I am including this shot. There could be quite a lot of fruit this year.

I am so late posting because we had our third choir concert this evening. It was at the camp site where we go for fish and chips each week, and it was nice to have one on my home territory for a change. It gave me the opportunity to encourage several of my friends to come along. It was a good concert and we were given a standing ovation at the end, which is always very gratifying. But now I am tired so I am away to bed, as soon as I have linked up with Annie's Friday Smiles and Rocking Your World.