Friday, January 26, 2018

Rocking Your World 2018: Week 4

Here we are at the end of another week, and here is the photo that really made me smile.

The back row is my grandson, my daughter-in-law and my grand-daughter, and in the front is my son. They are in their costumes for the Harlequin  Pantomime Productions show that took place near Wolverhampton all last week. It was based on Red Riding Hood but somehow the Three Pigs got involved and Ben was one of them (a very camp little piggy or so I am led to believe). They are an amateur group but they give a very professional performance. I was able to go over to watch them a couple of years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. I'd love to have been in the audience this year, but it just wasn't possible, but hopefully I will see the DVD eventually.

My first grateful for this week, is that I am now feeling almost back to normal after that awful virus that laid me low for the past month. I am still a bit clogged up, but now feel able to get back to my normal activities and that is good.
So Friday evening saw me setting off for choir practice. I knew the room would be cold so I put on several layers of clothes. We are learning some great pieces of music for our big event in London in the autumn, so we had a good sing and it was good to be back. And as an added bonus, my husband offered to drive me there, so I didn't have to worry about driving home in the dark, something I really don't like but have to do if I want to stay in the choir!
On Sunday I went to church in the morning, and it was a treat to see it all sparkling white in the sunshine. When Zurgena Town Hall heard about our special event next month, they sent painters round and painted the whole building inside and out, so it looks wonderful.
On Monday I had a day at home, so when I had done my bit of housework for the day, I sat in my craft room and put the finishing touches to my big set of Christmas cards that I made last week. I had a few images left so I used them and in the end I had a set of 25 cards. I am trying to make an average of twelve a month, so this was a great start. I tried the same last year and failed miserably, but maybe I can do better this year. My set has now been posted in the Rudolph Day Challenge that I enter on the 25th of each month, so I can now show a picture of them, and you can see them in more detail if you click HERE to go to my post on my craft blog.
On Tuesday we had arranged to hold the fist meeting of our House Groups for this year, mainly to plan what we could be doing this term. Unfortunately half the folk were missing as the bug is still affecting loads of people around here. But it was lovely to meet up, and chew over a few ideas, and hopefully at our next meeting we will have most people able to join us again.
When I got home from the meeting I made us a late lunch and we sat outside on the porch, Chris with his laptop and me with my knitting. The sun was really warm and and it reached 25º by midday, so we wanted to make the most of it. I decided the plants needed some water. I don't do them as often during the winter months, but, because they are all in pots, they do dry out and need a drink now and then. When I was watering a cactus, I saw a movement and a spider ran out and up the fly-free netting. He was such an unusual colour I just had to take a photo of him. Sorry to those who don't like spiders. (I freak out if they get on me, but I can still admire them from a distance!). This one looks pretty big, but I have zoomed in on him for the photo and he was much smaller really.
While we were sitting on the porch I heard the distant sound of the bells that the goats wear around their necks, so I guessed a herd were on their way to the green zone, and sure enough, soon they were there, grazing on some very dry scrub. They were big, healthy looking animals, and they had a few babies with them. This time it was the older goat-herd with them so he had no smart phone to occupy him. But he did have a lovely young puppy with him, obviously learning to be patient and sit around with his master until it was time to move the herd on again. The goat-herds are all very friendly, and he waved and called out a greeting when he saw me, but when our dogs started barking excitedly, it was probably too much for the little pup and he moved them on.
On Wednesday I returned to my sewing group. There were a lot of people there, though several were looking as though they too were just recovering from the virus. But again it was good to meet with friends and catch up on what we had done over Christmas - it seems ages ago already!
That evening, as I called the cats in for the night, I noticed that the street lights looked different and I wasn't sure why. But when I opened the front door to investigate I saw that it was very misty - almost foggy. That is a phenomenon that we don't usually see out here. I think this is the first time I have seen thick mist since I lived in UK. It was still there when we got up Thursday morning, but the sun broke through and soon burnt it off. But now we are moving into a new band of weather with a very cold wind blowing today and the likelihood of clouds and rain throughout next week.
So yesterday I might have opted for another day at home but I had arranged to go up to the little white village behind ours, El Pinar, to have lunch with some friends. It is a tiny village and every road seems to be a hill, and I had no idea where I was going, so of course I got lost, but fortunately I could ring one of the group and they talked me back to the right house. We spent a very pleasant couple of hours together which was a nice change as I rarely meet up just for a social chat. Usually I am attending organised groups or meetings. Of course I didn't think to take a photo of the four of us, but that shows we were enjoying ourselves.
Another little happy moment yesterday was when my new Kindle e-reader arrived. My other one was quite old and the on-off button had become very temperamental, which was frustrating when I wanted to read and it refused to turn on. So I treated myself to a Kindle paperwhite, and I must say I like the look and feel of it. Although I am equally happy holding a 'proper' book, some can be quite heavy, and the Kindle is perfect for reading outside, even in the brightest sunshine. And of course it means that when I go on holiday I can take several book with me in a very small package. So I have put a few books on it and I'm ready to go.

An update on last week's post when I said I am trying to finish off some projects, and I showed my Seaside Winter blanket, assembled but awaiting the finishing touch. Well it is now completely finished, so another project I can cross of the list! 
I used some of the colours from the main squares, plus the neutral edging colour to work a simple linen stitch and small scallop border. I think that was a good choice and I am happy with how it turned out.

Another project I am still working on is my digital scrapbook of the holiday we had in Ireland back in 2012! At the end of the holiday, which had been a tour of Southern Ireland from Cork to Donegal, we crossed over into Northern Ireland so that I could fulfil another wish, and visit The Giant's Causeway. I am so glad we did. It was majestic, and worth every minute of the detour. So this week I have made three pages about this part of the holiday. There is one more page to come for this section, which is planned but not executed yet.

Now today it is really windy. I can here it whistling round this side of the house. But at least it has blown some of the clouds away. As the forecast for next week is so poor, I decided I had better get the sheets washed today, so they are now hanging out on the line, with about ten pegs on each side to ensure they blow dry and not blow away like the last lot of washing did!
As I haven't shown any sky photos for a long time, I will end with four that were all taken as the sun was setting last night. As you can see, the clouds were already gathering but that just makes for a prettier sky.

Now all that is left is for me to link up with Rocking Your World, and Annie's Friday Smiles.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Rocking your World 2018; Week 3

Well here is something that really made me smile this week. As I was walking across a patch of campo to the medical centre in our village, I spotted this almond tree in full blossom. Now it may be a bit confused by the unseasonably warm days we have been enjoying, but to me, this is a herald of Spring, and I am sure we are all happy to think that Winter is ending and Spring will come again. I am sure we have some pretty dire weather still to come, but when it is raining outside, I will look at this picture and think "It is a promise of better things to come".

I wish I could say that I am now fighting fit again but unfortunately I still haven't shaken this bug completely so I have not left the house any more than necessary all week, so apart from a fair bit of crafting, I have not done a lot.

However, I did manage to get to church on Sunday morning, and although it was chilly, I wrapped up warm, and it was good to see friends again after what seems like a very long time. We were celebrating because on January 11th it was the third anniversary of our little church. And what a long way we have come in that time. From a small group of 12-20 people, we now average forty people each week, and we have a thriving team of leaders. We have worked together in the community to raise money for our own running costs and local charities, we serve the community through regular donations to the food bank, and we run weekly home groups, as well as sharing special occasions, often ending these with a community meal.

We have a very exciting event coming up next month. We are part of the Costa Almeria and Costa Calida Chaplaincy, which has four small churches, very spread out across the parish which extends from Murcia one way to Roquettas del Mar the other, and  inland as far as Granada, and next month we welcome a new full time priest after more than a year of short term locums. They have all been wonderful, but it will be good to have someone permanently in place, to give continuity to all we do. We are excited because our little chapel at Llanos del Peral has been chosen for the installation service of Rev.Vincent and his wife Robyn Ann. The Archdeacon of Gibraltar will be coming to lead the service, and all four churches from the Chaplaincy will be represented. And what better way to welcome the priest and his wife into our community than with a bring and share lunch. It will be what we refer to as a "posh buffet", and will need to be finger food as there will not be space to have everyone seated, but I am sure we will all come up with something tasty to take along.

Now, as I said, I have mostly occupied myself this week with various crafty activities. I decided that I have too many projects on the go, and I needed to finish some of them, so this week I finished the red jacket I have been knitting with wool I bought at Hobbycraft when I visited my sister in the Autumn last year. 
I am pleased with the way it has turned out. It is nice and long as I wanted, and the pockets are useful. The varegations in colour in the wool have made a good random pattern. It is a long time since I knitted an adult garment, as it seemed to pull on my shoulders last time, but this wool is described as chunky but it is soft and light, and I tried the bamboo needles for the first time, and I think they really did help. Anyway I am wearing it today, and it is nice and cosy.

Next I turned my attention to a smallish lap blanket that I started working on last year on days when I found my big Sophie blanket too heavy and too hot to handle. I just had one square to finish off and then I laid them out on our bed to arrange them and I have now crocheted them all together. So here it is so far. I now need to work a fairly strong, wide border around it and it too will be done.
The pattern was called Seaside Winter Blanket, and was designed by Zelna Olivier, from South Africa, and each square is named after an African beach. So I decided to use a palette of sea, sand and sky colours, with five shades of blue, two of yellow, white, silver and to link them all together a sandy neutral shade called parchment.
Here is a close-up of one section to show some of the textures and patterns included in the design. 

I lost my mojo a bit while I was feeling so rough, so this week I really wanted to get back down to my craft room and do some papercraft. So I chose something easy to start with, using images and papers from a Christmas craft CD, and I made a set of Christmas cards to start next years stash off. I can't show them here because they are for a blog challenge next week. Now I need to think about some birthday cards needed in February, but I also have set myself the goal of finishing my Irish holiday scrapbook, so hopefully I will soon be back into the swing of things.

I will finish with a funny story that I forgot to include last week, but it made us both chuckle. We have had some lovely days in January with plenty of sun even though last week it stayed quite cool. So I made the most of this and got the washing done and hung out to dry. Unfortunately I was busy inside and did not notice that a fierce wind had got up, so when I went to check if the washing was dry, I found several items scattered around the yard. I rescued these, but my long-sleeved white tee-shirt and a short-sleeved one had gone over the back railings and were lodged in the dried grass and branches that form the steep bank down into the green zone behind the house. I called for Chris to assist me. He doesn't like me to climb over the railings as there is little ground that it is safe to stand on, but he went over and managed to retrieve the nearest shirt but the other one was out of reach. He found an old metal pole that used to hold the TV aerial way above the house, and with that he went fishing. Each time he 'caught' my shirt and began to lift it, it fell off even further down, which had us both giggling away. But eventually he got enough of it wrapped around the pole to lift it up, and then it looked likely to end up on the roof. But I held it steady while he climbed back over the railings and slowly he fed the end of the pole down the slope, until I could reach up and unhook my shirt. Needless to say, it needed another round in the washing machine, but at least it was undamaged. I'll have to double peg everything next time.

Unlike last week, this week has been warm as well as sunny. We have had temperature as high as 23º some days which is wonderful. It only lasts like that for a few hours, using reaching its highest by 11.00 and starting to cool again by 4.00, but it has been pleasant enough to sit out on the porch for an hour or so, though I am still wearing several layers of clothes which is not like me at all. In the evening it is still very cold, (Not by UK standards I know, but our houses are draughty, stone-floored and not many have any form of central heating). So we continue to close the windows and shutters at tea-time and turn on the fire, so at least the main room is cosy to sit in for the evenings.

And lastly here is a photo, not taken by me. I believe it is attributed to Richard Shanley. Our local radio station has a Facebook page, and it has been running a series of photos, sent in by the general public, called "The real Spain", and this was the sunrise over Mojacar coast on Tuesday this week. Isn't it beautiful? There is no getting away from the fact that a blue sky to start the day, does start you off feeling good, even when the grey clouds gather later on.
So now I just need to link up with Annie's Friday Smiles and Rocking Your World. Join us and look for your own silver linings this week.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Rocking Your World 2018; Week 2

I can't believe we are almost half-way through January, and I blinked and missed it! But here we are at Friday again, and as last week, I have very little to write about. But there have been some silver linings so let's see what we have.

Well, last week my smile was a box of seville oranges gifted to me for marmalade, so this week's smile has to be this mini-mountain of sugar to go with them.

I have a friend who is very active in the Lions Club in Vera. As most of their events take place on a Sunday, I am unable to support many of them, but we have worked together on some projects, so when she was offered a lot of out-of-date preserving sugar at a ridiculously low price, she thought of me and my jam-making for charity. It comes from an English food shop that is closing down, and it is properly clean and dry, free flowing, and still poly-wrapped in trays of ten x 1 kg packets. So the date does not concern me, especially as it is boiled to death anyway when you make jam. I wouldn't usually pay the extra for preserving sugar, but this was too good an opportunity to miss. I said I would take 20 kg, but she caught me when I was not at my best, and somehow I ended up with twice that amount! So I am now well set up for a good few jam making sessions! I have already used some in another batch of marmalade, and tomorrow I hope to use the rest of the oranges before they 'turn'. I have offered some of the sugar to the lady at church who also makes jam for our stall, and I am waiting to hear back from her, but either way, I am sure it will get used eventually.

Also last week, I mentioned that we had walked across to the plaza to see the children receive their gifts from the three kings, but it was chilly and we didn't stay out for long. The next day, Saturday, I had agreed to meet two friends there, for the Three Kings Fiesta. I was still far from well, but this is my favourite fiesta so I didn't want to miss it. Sadly it was a grey, damp day, the first time it has not been sunny for this occasion since we came out here. I was still full of cold, so I wrapped up well in a thick fleece jacket that I brought out with me ten years ago, but have never worn out here. We met up with our friends and joined the crowd that had gathered around the set of King Herod's palace, on the plaza.
As you can see, there were plenty of coats and scarves in use. We don't have too many really bad days, but the Spanish do not like being cold, and they dress up far more in the Winter than the English do. The crowd was also much thinner than usual, but they don't usually let the weather stop a celebration, and soon the King was on his throne, addressing his guards regarding the 'new born king'.
By the time the Wise men rode in on their horses to make their own enquiries, the rain had started and umbrellas appeared throughout the crowd.
It was too cold to stand around for the whole story re-enactment, so we went to a local bar for a hot drink. Then we decided to buy something at one of the food tents and take our friends back with us to eat lunch at our house.

There is always some free food provided at the fiestas, and at this one it is usually migas, which is not the most popular. (It is a type of flour and water paste, cooked until it can be chopped up into little pieces, with cloves of garlic and little sausages in it). But this year it was the much more popular tortilla. This is basically egg, potato and onion mixed and cooked in a huge trough over a wood fire. It is then cut into large slices and served in baguettes. Normally we would have waited for a slice of this, but I had had enough by then, and just wanted to go home. The rain had stopped for a bit, and there were some small patches of blue sky, so we did stand and watch the men pouring the egg mix into the tray, but it would have been another hour before it was ready to eat, so we left them to it. (Halfway through the cooking, a lid is fitted over the trough, and it is rotated through 180º so it can cook from the other side as well).
Behind the men, the colourful heap of material is a big bouncy castle that had to be deflated until the rain stopped. Children were eagerly hopping around waiting for it to rise up again.

I probably would have been better off staying home that day, because the next day I had a relapse and ended up in bed for nearly all of Sunday. Since then I have been very gradually improving. I haven't left the house again all week, but today, Chris took me for essential food shopping. At least I coped with that, though I was glad to be home again. So tonight I had to miss our first choir practice of the new season. I was very disappointed but hopefully I will be able to join in next week. We are starting to work on the music for our Royal Albert Hall Concert in November, so I need to be there if I can.

But like most things, there is a silver lining to being housebound for a week or two. For one thing I have enjoyed reading a trilogy of books about life in the Liverpool docks area just after the war, and the lives of a group of young ladies who had come to the teaching hospital nearby to train as nurses. It is a similar era to 'Call the Midwife'. If that sounds like your sort of story, look for the "Lovely Lane Series" by Nadine Dorries. I recommend them for easy and enjoyable reading.

I have also made a good start on a new crochet project to make another afghan. I follow a lady called Lucy of Attic 24. She does amazing crochet and recently she launched a new Crochet ALong, called  Autumn Woodland Walk, which is a ripple pattern in a wonderful array of autumn colours. I love the colour palette but knew I shouldn't attempt another all-in-one blanket. They are just too heavy for me to hold. But her previous CAL was called Summer Harmony  Blanket, and it was made up of 100 little squares in bright and sunny colours, and some paler ones for contrast. So I set myself the task of combining these two projects. The little squares appealed to me as being easy to hold, but I prefer the autumn colours. So I got out my colour pegs that I use for choosing a palette for any project, and lined up pegs for her summer colours. I divided them into cooler colours, mid-tones, brights and darks. Then I found the pegs for the autumn colours and lined them up alongside the summer ones until I felt I had a reasonable correlation between them. Here are my autumn colours ready to use.

For the summer blanket, Lucy had provided charts for each round of each colour, and it proved confusing to try and work from those in my new colours, so yesterday, after a quick tutorial on using Open Office from my husband, I manged to 'find and replace' each shade with my new one, so I now have the charts in autumn colours.
The way it works is that you take each colour in turn (17 of them) and make six round one squares. Then you place all 17 balls in front of you, and using the first chart, you place six different coloured centres on each one, and use that ball to work round two of each square. Here are some of mine when they had been sorted, and one ball where the second rounds have been worked.
Then you repeat this using the next chart for round three. So, for example, the six squares in my photo with 'mocha' for their second round, will each have a different colour for round three. It sounds complicated, but with a decent system in place, and Lucy's excellent charts, it is actually quite straight forward. And you end up with 100 (102 if you've done the maths, but you discard 2) squares that are all unique, and Lucy has even given us a chart to show how they are all placed to make up the blanket. I love the colours, but I can't be sure that my choices are right, and I am looking forward to finding out how it all comes together.
There was one new colour in the range that I needed for this, a pale shade of blue-green called lincoln, so I sent an order off last Friday to Wool Warehouse in UK, and my parcel arrived yesterday. They are a wonderful company to trade with and their service is always prompt, but that was even faster than I had expected. So last night I made the missing green centres, and now I am about halfway through the second rounds. I am sure you will be seeing it again when I get further on into the project. By the way, in case you were wondering, I work my ends in as I go along, so there won't be hundred of tails to sew in at the end.
In the same order as the wool, I ordered a set of lovely red buttons for the jacket I am knitting. I am on the last piece now so soon there will just be the sewing up and front ribbings to do. I didn't feel like working on this while I was not well, but now I am a bit better, I want to get it finished, while it is still cold enough to wear it.
Well that's it for this week, so I will pop over to Virginia's blog and link up with Rocking your World, and then over to Annie's blog for her Friday Smiles. Do join us if you want something to smile at, and share your own happy moments too.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Rocking Your World 2018: Week 1

Hi everyone. I am starting the new year with my quickest post ever. The head cold I said was starting last week, turned into a full blown cold type virus and I have been very under the weather all week. The doctor gave me a cocktail of strong analgesics and antihistamine, which knocked me out so I slept for the first few days. They also prevent me from driving safely, so tonight was the first time I stepped out of our gate all week.
But that doesn't mean there was nothing to smile about. On Tuesday I heard the front door bell, and when I went to answer it, there was friend with a big box of 'sunshine' for me. Don't they look lovely?
They are, in fact, not quite as lovely as they look, because these are bitter oranges, but I am very pleased to have them as they are what I use to make my marmalade. The friend has moved away now, but she used to live in this village so she knew I make marmalade to sell for charity, so when a friend of hers asked her if she knew anyone who could use them, she thought of me, and drove over with them. The lemons are from her own tree, and they are also very useful, as each batch of marmalade I make uses 4kg of oranges (about 15 fruit), and five or six lemons, which yields around sixteen jars of marmalade.
So this morning I set to and made one pan full, and there is enough fruit here to make two more batches sometime next week.

After a whole week indoors, I was ready to venture out tonight, so I wrapped up as warmly as I could, and Chris and I walked over to the village plaza to watch the Three Kings handing out presents to the children.
There was an excited chatter in the big marquee as the Kings entered and sat on their thrones up on the stage.
Then one of their helpers started calling out the names on the parcels (left at the Town Hall by the parents earlier today), and the children filed out to receive their gifts, say a few words to their King, and have a photo taken while sitting on his knee.
The format is exactly the same every year, and it is more important to them than a visit from Santa on Christmas Eve. I love to see their excited faces, and see them all tearing off the wrappings from the presents.
Tomorrow is the Three Kings Fiesta in our village when there is a re-enactment of the Kings' visit to the palace of King Herod. There is also a small medieval market with craft and food stalls. Hopefully it will be a nice enough day for me to wrap up and get over there for an hour or two. It is our tenth year here and so far we have never had a wet Three kings day, but the forecast is not so good for tomorrow, so we will have to wait and see what the morning brings.

One last little smile before I go. Because I can't drive on these tablets, yesterday I asked Chris to go down to Garrucha to buy bread and milk for the weekend. He was soon back with the milk but he had forgotten the bread! He did buy a bottle of wine and one of bacardi though! So I guess we are fine until Monday. (To be fair, he did go out again this morning for some bread). 

That is all from me this week. Hopefully by next Friday I will be fighting fit and ready to get involved with everything again.

So I will link up with Annie's Friday Smiles and Rocking Your World, and go and see what has started everyone else's year off with a smile.