Friday, August 17, 2018

Rocking Your World 2018: Week 33

Well another week has flown past, and though I have been too busy to take many photos I have some to share.

Happy Moments often involve happy memories too, and yesterday my memory on Facebook was this photo of my curly-haired grandson Finlay, taken nine years ago. I loved it then as he is the image of his daddy at that age.
He was here on holiday with his parents and brother, and it just so happens that he is here again this week, though nine years on he looks somewhat different!
His hair is still curly but he keeps it too short to really see them, and next month he will be starting at the secondary school. As you can see, Kim has found another new friend.
In fact he is spoiled for choice this week, as we have our son with his two boys - aged 14 and almost 12, and his partner with her two boys aged almost 6 and 9, so we have a full house, and Kim spends his time going from one to the other, wherever he thinks he may get some special attention. All four boys love all the animals, and are happy to fuss any of them.

The family arrived last Sunday, which happened to be the end of theatre week in our village and this is always marked by some sort of street drama. It ranges from the sublime to the ridiculous and this year's show definitely fell into the latter category. I guess it was slapstick, a sort of circus clown act, but the 'cast' were dressed in a range of vaguely Scottish costumes. They had several noisy instruments and did some rather bizarre dancing/marching around the plaza. Bear in mind that, like most Spanish events, it didn't kick off until 10.00 at night, but like a film of the Pied Piper, young children slowly appeared from every direction, with a fair number of adults behind them, and they all sat on the ground around a makeshift stage to enjoy the performance. It was a strange series of 'mixed metaphors' with bagpipes, some highland dancing and a mock up of tossing the caber and other events from the Highland games, though I doubt whether young Spanish children have much knowledge of Scotland and its traditions! But they loved it all, from the noisy lady shouting instructions, to the odd costumes, the 'castle' that became a train and was driven around the plaza, and the 'pretend' bus with twirly umbrellas for wheels.

I didn't understand all the Spanish but I heard them say something about a storm when there was a loud clap of thunder, and the lady with the microphone was shouting about a Phantom. Then this weird creature appeared from behind us and caused a stir among the children.                    For the final dance sequence, the umbrellas came out again and this time they were filled with glitter that scattered everywhere as the umbrellas were opened and twirled. It was very effective against the dark sky and bright stage lights. The children loved it and were soon busy trying to collect it up to throw again.
By midnight we were wandering back to home, and I think our visitors knew they had arrived in Spain. You don't see anything quite like that in UK.

Most of the week, the family have been visiting one of the beaches. Mike loves the sea and I think he has managed to get in it every day. One day they drove over to Roquettas to the big water park there, but we stayed at home. It was a bit too far for us on such a hot day. We all went up to the village pool one afternoon and had a good swim up there, and we have spent the evenings playing cards and relaxing at home. I have taught the older ones how to play gin rummy and we have enjoyed getting to grips with that.

This morning Mike took his two boys off to a water fun park on their own. There was a minimum age of seven, so Lucy's boys are not old enough for it yet, so she took hers down to the beach. I went with Mike because the park is a new venture this year, so I wanted to see it so I know whether or not to recommend it to other visitors. It was set in a large man made canal or reservoir that was constructed back in 2008 for the Mediterranean Games. The dam at the top is painted to depict an Indalo man and the flag of the games.(You can just see the head of him as he disappears over the top).
The park itself is a series of inflatables linked by floating walkways, and each participant can book a one hour session. By the state of the boys and their dad at the end, an hour was more than enough.
At the water's edge, there were groups of old-fashioned style deck-chairs under sun shades and I was happy to sit on one of them to take care of the bags etc, and I was armed with two phones and instructed to take some photos. In the bright sun shine it was hard to see which was my little group, so the photos are not that good, but they had so much fun climbing, jumping and swimming. It's no wonder they were tired out at the end of it. Here are just a few of my photos. I am hoping there are some better ones on Mike's phone.
From the big splash at the bottom, I am guessing Mike has just come down the slide in this one!
Here are a few more that I think I can identify our boys in.

Afterwards, as we were walking back to the car, I spotted this monkey face in the cliff, and just had to take a photo of him too!
And that's about it for this week. We are all off down to Mojacar for a meal together now, so I'll quickly link up with Annie's Friday Smiles and Rocking Your World, and I'll be back later to visit you all.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Rocking Your World 2018; Week 32

Hi folks. Sorry I was missing last week. I had every intention of posting as usual, but I was having a good time with our visitors and simply forgot what day it was! But I'm back today, looking back on those very good times.

Because we have several lots of visitors coming this summer, we decided we needed to replace a couple of our loungers for the patio. So the day before they arrived, I bought one to try it. (We are pleased with it, so yesterday we went and bought a second one.) It came in a huge cardboard box. I pulled it out and took it outside to open up, and when I came back in, I found my lovely Tango had taken over the box! They just can't resist a box, however bad a 'fit' it is.
Fortunately all our visitors this year have managed to get flights into Almeria rather than Murcia, which is only a 40min drive from us - much better than the 1hr 20mins to Murcia. So on Wednesday morning we set off early as this lovely pair and their two boys, were due in at 9.30. They were delayed a bit but not too much.
This is my beautiful granddaughter Emma, and her husband John. I minded Emma for the first eight or more years of her life, and it was lovely to see her with her own little family. She always was, and still is a natural mum, looking after her younger brother as a child, and now with her own two.
The boys don't know us very well, and were a bit shy at first, but they were soon posing for us. Emma had sensibly bought them special swimming tops and shorts, so neither got sunburned, and they were happy to show off their new clothes.
Of course they were eager to jump in the pool. Isaac who is 7 this month, is already a good swimmer, though his main love (dare I say obsession) is football, and it wasn't long before little Alfie, who is 3½, did his first strokes without his armbands. 
The four of them, mum, dad, and the boys, spent hours in the pool and it was so good to see them having such a good family fun time together.
One day we went up to the big public pool at the top of the village. It was busier than when I went with Jonathan and Ella last month, but still not at all crowded, and we had a lovely time there. It amazes me how long little ones can keep going. I gave up long before they did, but eventually they had to get out, and they looked so cute sitting chatting together.
One day I went to the water park at Vera with them. We knew Alfie would be too small for the big slides, but we were hoping Isaac would get on some of them. Unfortunately he was still just 1cm to small, but it really didn't matter as they had such a good time in the children's pool. They must have come down this yellow slide and curved red and green ones on either side, at least a hundred times.
There were not too many steps to get up to them, but even so I was worn out just watching them! We managed to secure some loungers just near this pool so I kept an eye on them while Emma and John went off to try the bigger features. Then we all went into the wave pool. It is good to see the little ones so confident in the water already. Their year of swimming lessons has definitely paid off.
I also went to the beach with them one day, and then they went on their own a couple of times. We had to go down as early as possible to find a parking space, and came home at lunch time as the afternoons were too hot for the beach. The sand was scorching but the water was lovely. The children were equally at home in the sea. The first visit the waves were too rough for them, but the next time it was better and they had such a good time. Alfie thought he was afraid of the waves and would only sit on the sand and dig at first, but once we enticed him in  at the edge there was no stopping him.
We have known for a while that at the far end of Mojacar beach there is an Italian ice-cream parlour, but we had never been there. Somewhat bizarrely, their opening hours are from 4 in the afternoon until 2 the next morning! 
So one day, we had a quiet morning, and towards evening we drove down to the sea. We parked up and for the first time all holiday, we sat Alfie in his buggy to walk along the promenade to find the ice-cream shop. Of course he fell asleep, so he is looking a little confused to be woken up and find an ice-cream mouse on the table in front of him. Needless to say, once he was properly awake, the mouse had a short life!
We all had something special. Mine was a delicious concoction of caramel ice-cream on a sponge soaked in Baileys, with a butterscotch sauce. Very naughty but very nice! 
John's was rather clever. He chose 'steak and chips' which turned out to be a big slab of chocolate ice-cream, whipped cream and apricot halves for the eggs,
and chips made from slices of banana with strawberry sauce drizzled on them. It really looked very convincing.

On their last day we went up to Mojacar Pueblo, the little white village above the beach. I like going up there. It is a maze of narrow, hilly streets with loads of little shops overflowing with nick-nacks, and ideas for gifts to take home. It is very geared up for the tourist trade, and I would not choose to live up there, but it is lovely to visit. In several places, the narrow lanes had bougainvillea growing right across them, often clinging to the many electricity cables that try to spoil the view. This one had such pretty pink flowers, so I got Emma to pose under it for this picture.
Although Alfie sometimes had a little nap at siesta time, Isaac had limitless energy, and he found it difficult to settle down. But we wanted to go out again that evening so we bribed them by saying if they had a chill-out time, we would then go out for dinner down by the beach and they could have a late night swim in the pool before bed.
They are both active little boys so they don't spend too much time on 'technical toys', but when a spell of rest is required, the tablet came in handy and they did both sit quietly for a while. What strange positions they make themselves comfy in! But it must have been comfortable enough, as he stayed there for quite a while.  This one shows how at ease they were with the animals, especially our big boy Kim, and how at ease he was with them.

Eventually we set off to find dinner at one of our favourite beach bars. It was still light when we got there, so we managed to take a few photos. I snuck in on a family group and then we got one of Emma with both her Grandma and Grandpa, which doesn't often happen as I am usually the one holding the camera!

And finally we took one of two lovely sun-kissed boys who had had a great holiday. Everyone went home with a lovely tan and no sunburn, which was good, and I think they had all had a really happy, relaxed week. I was sad to say Good-bye to these two smilers, but I am sure they will come again one day.
And yes, they did get one late night swim. As they stepped into the pool just at dusk, I turned on the under water light and little Alfie said, "Oooh. That's cool!" They had to pack some damp swimmers for the journey home, but it was worth it to give them such a fun last night.
So Wednesday it was off to the airport to see them safely away. I have had a couple of busy days replenishing the fridge and cupboards, and washing all the bed linen and towels. The beds are now remade, the cupboards are restocked and we are ready for the next set of visitors who arrive on Sunday morning. We take them back the following Sunday and at the same time collect son number three who is coming for two weeks. So I can't say whether or not I will post again for a while, but I'll do my best to pop in. Now I will link up with Annie's Friday Smiles and Rocking Your World, and them maybe have a wee siesta!

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Rocking Your World 2018: Week 30

I am a bit late starting my blog this week as I was so busy making a run of Christmas cards, that I almost forgot it was Friday!
It is a run of twelve cards, but this is the only sneak peak I can give you as I will be using them for a challenge in a few week's time.

It hasn't been a particularly busy week, but it has been a very hot one. A friend of mine goes to the hospital in Almeria regularly, to translate for various British folk, and while she was there she took this photo of one of the thermometers that appear outside most Farmacias. While none of us believe these completely, as their sensors are often in an exposed position, plus it is a known fact that the many stone buildings in a city hold the heat, it is still and exceptionally high reading, and an example of how hot it has been. (If you are not used to the centigrade scale, 51ºC is around 123.8ºF!!)

Fortunately it was not quite that hot last Friday afternoon when we set off for our end of season social with my choir. We were at a small restaurant in a village house belonging to a couple who sponsor us. One of them used to sing with the choir until his business caused too many time conflicts. We had not been there before, but we knew it was up in the hills a bit, and we had had very good reports about it. It turned out that I was very glad Chris was doing the driving as it was a long slow climb, on winding roads with blind bends, and sheer drops at the side. We both decided that we might return for a lunch time meal one day, but not an evening one, as neither of us fancy doing the drive after dark. There is, of course, no street lighting away from the towns.
However, it was a quaint house, with lots of interesting nooks and crannies, and there was a lovely patio with a pool, and we had tables and chairs out there. We were just about at the top of the number they can accommodate, so there was not a lot of space to 'mingle', but we still had an enjoyable afternoon sitting chatting to those around us, and enjoying an excellent buffet.
It was a sun trap on the patio and we were glad to find some seats under one of the sunshades. Beyond the pool, you could see over the wall to a vista of agricultural land spreading below us. This photo doesn't do it justice. 

Aside from that, we have spent most of our time at home, having a much needed siesta through the hottest part of the afternoon and staying up late to compensate.
Last year I bought a new fan for my craft room which proved to be too strong for in there, as it blew my papers everywhere. So this week I bought a less fierce one which I am happy to have on, even this late into the evening. We have moved the strong one out onto the patio, where it is proving to be really useful. With that blowing on me I have been able to sit outside and do my crochet, or read, in comfort. It is lovely to have enough spare time to do some serious reading, and I have 'devoured' two books this week.

Our only other outing was last night when we went to Mojacar for Noche de Velos, or Night of Candles. This takes place up in the Pueblo, the little white village set on a hill above the playa or beach. Posters from the Town Hall warned that parking would not be allowed close to the village but a series of special buses would be leaving from stops along the playa to take people up. So we parked on the beach and found our way to one of the temporary bus stops. We got up there just before the sun went down. In fact we sat and watched as it disappeared behind the mountains.
We sat at a tiny bar and had a drink before we went any further into the village and we were glad we did, as there were long queues at the main places on the plazas. The bar tender told us that 23,000 people attended the night of candles last year! I don't know how many people were there last night, but they were all milling around, and though you had to hunt to find a seat or a step to rest on, it was still possible to walk around.
The first candles were lit before it was properly dark, but as the light faded, the whole place came to life. There were little candles strapped to all the railings. It took ages to light them all.
There were also small candles and tea-lights in paper bags, with some sand in them, all along the streets and on the plazas. (The Spanish have a more sensible approach to health and safety than other countries where it has often gone over the top in my opinion, but even so I was a bit alarmed to see long skirts swinging above these paper bags, and little children playing around them). But there were no fires that we saw anyway.
As we walked around the little streets and many plazas, we saw several stages prepared for musical events, though we knew these would not start much before midnight. This was a nice view looking down into the courtyard behind the ancient church, where instruments were being set up for a reggae session.
We sat on the steps of the main plaza and just 'people watched' for a while. There were people milling around everywhere.
Then we went to the upper plaza and dodged in and out of the candle bags, and just enjoyed the atmosphere.

Much later we sat and watched this couple. The lady was a great singer and excellent violinist, and her friend accompanied her on guitar. I had to smile though, as when she came out she did a long introduction in Spanish, and then broke into an Ed Sheeran song which she sang in flawless English!

As we walked passed the front of the church we saw lights inside and went in to look. The whole place was lit by many candles, which were reflected in highly polished marble, and it looked beautiful.

Just as we were making our way back down, to find our bus back to the beach and our car, we saw a group of people carrying various sizes of drums, collecting together, so we stayed to watch them. They were great, and at the same time, some men started juggling with lit torches. Note again that it was up to the crowd to keep a safe distance from them, and hold their children back.
I took a short video of them which I have uploaded to Youtube so I can share it. I didn't catch the best bit of their display, but it may give you a feel for what was going on. You can see it HERE.

When we got back down to the Playa at a bit after midnight, we suddenly remembered we had not had any tea, so we found a beach café that was still serving, and had tostadas with fries. It is a wonder either of could sleep after such a late meal, but we did!  It was a lovely night out, and something a bit different. Apparently it has only been running for four years, but has already become the most popular tourist attraction of the year.

Despite the days of unrelenting sun, the early mornings and most evenings have remained very warm, but have been quite cloudy. As a result we saw very little of the moon's eclipse tonight, and I thought I would have to settle for this picture of the almost full moon that I took last night!
However the clouds did thin out and I managed to get this set of the moon emerging from out the other side. It is probably fully visible again now, but I am not going out to take any more tonight, so I will leave you with these. They are not brilliant, but not too bad either seeing as I only use a 'point and shoot' camera on full zoom.

And that's it for today (in fact out here it is tomorrow now!). So I'll be off to link up with Annie's Friday Smiles and Rocking Your World, and then I shall find my bed. Good-night all.