Friday, February 23, 2018

Rocking Your World 2018: Week 8

Well even in a relatively calm week, the days seem to fly by, and looking back on the week, I wonder what I did with them all. But one thing that did make me smile was this picture of our youngest son Ben as a baby, popping up in my Facebook memories.

I had posted it on his birthday when he hit thirty last year. So this week, of course, he became 31, but he is still, and always will be, my very special baby.
As you must know by now, he is a talented musician, and loves to sing his own songs, as well as covers of others, and in January I posted about the pantomime that he, and several other family members, were in. Last week they had the 'end of season' party, etc, where they hand out awards to some of the cast, and decide on the theme for the following year's panto. Ben was given two awards: one for Best adult improver, and the other for Best vocals, so he was very pleased with that. Now I am hoping that soon I will get to see the DVD of the show.
He had some even better news this week when he was offered a new job he had applied for. So probably around April, he will move from being a conductor on trains from New Street Station, to be the one who trains all the new conductors, plus ticket office staff, and everyone else as they learn about safety for workers on the railway. I think he feels the same, but for me the best part is that after fifteen years of doing some pretty difficult shifts, anything from 4.00 in the morning to gone midnight, he will finally be a 9-5 man, making it so much easier for him to commit to any activities in the evenings such as panto rehearsals, so I am really pleased for him.

We had another special service at church on Sunday. It was special for many reasons, the first being that it was our first service with Rev. Vincent, as for his first week he was at our sister church in Mojacar. Also we started the service with four blessings. The first was for two couples celebrating important wedding anniversaries. One for a thirtieth and the other was a golden wedding. After 50 years of marriage, their rings were rather 'worn' so for their anniversary they gave each other new ones, and these were blessed before they were exchanged. Then there was a blessing for a cross that was given to Tony, who is just starting his training as a lay-reader. When they assist at services they wear a cross around their neck and we usually present them with this at the start of their studies. Finally we had a blessing of a different cross. Our building is actually a village catholic church which is now only used for fiestas and funerals, so we are allowed to use it, but we have promised not to add anything to the walls inside. However, we were given permission to hang a small cross on the outside wall, and one of our congregation had a lovely wrought iron one made, which was blessed before it was hung in a recessed area near the door. It is a lovely design.

On Monday, a new shop called Zoe's Emporium, with the added description of "Kitchens and Constructions", opened in our village, just across the green  zone from our house. Now Chris and I have been tentatively discussing revamping my very small and rather badly designed kitchen, since the Autumn, so I asked him to come to the opening of the shop to see what they had on offer. It turned out to be run by two English couples, who will design, build and install any units etc that are required, and they are agents for the electrical goods too. So yesterday, the two men came round to see my kitchen, listen to my ideas for improving it, and add a few of their own. Now we are waiting for their estimate, and then we will know whether or not we can go ahead with it. So I am very excited. It will be pretty awful while the work is being done, but wonderful when it is finished --- if it gets done! I live in hope!

We had a very lively and interesting discussion at our house group on Tuesday when we looked at some of the women in the Bible. Next week I have agreed to host it here, so I need to do some sorting out before then.

We have had some really warm sunny days, with one day that reached into the upper twenties around lunch time, and also some very chilly days. On Wednesday night we had a huge thunder storm and torrential rain that rather took us all by surprise. Yesterday was sunny but there was a very cold wind that whistled round the corners of the house. I did a load of washing in the morning and put loads of pegs in each item as I hung it on the line, so I didn't have to go fishing in the green zone for any escaped garments again. It was quite a struggle to get it hung out, but the upside of that is that even the big bath towels were dry within a couple of hours. 

It was more sheltered at the front of the house, so I decided to spend some time working in the garden. A few weeks ago I bought hyacinth and baby daffodil bulbs in Lidls. I always search through them for the pots with the most promising buds, because I know they will have a short life out here. I also bought a few winter pansies, and they have all sat in a tray on the porch just waiting for some attention. So now I have a pot on each side of the bottom step, and they make me smile every time I see them. I made them almost match - I think it is because I am a Libran, I like things that are balanced and come in pairs!

I also had one pink hyacinth that I put in a pot with a rather sad little carnation plant, that has been neglected all winter, but I am hoping by the time the hyacinth goes over, it will have recovered and will give me lots of flowers for weeks to come.

When I was walking through the village at the weekend, I saw one of the big planters that are found in many of the streets, and this one was full of bright red kalanchoes. They were all in flower and they looked fabulous. 
They are wonderful flowers for growing out here. I bought three plants in different colours, way back in the early autumn, and they have bloomed ever since. They were in my triple-plant stand by the front door, so the top one was removed to make way for a poinsettia at Christmas. But that has finally keeled over after nearly three months of looking beautiful, so the kalanchoe is back. They are getting a bit straggly now, but while I was out there yesterday, I cut off all the dead heads, and any leaves that were damaged though the winter, and I was pleased to see new buds on them.

There was a red one in the top pot but it is much smaller and doesn't look quite so healthy, but I had another yellow one that was in the planter a year ago, and when its flowers died I just set it aside and ignored it. But when I picked it up to see if there was anything worth keeping on it, I found it was covered in new buds. So I trimmed all the dead heads off and tidied it up, and that now has top-spot on my planter.

And that is just about my week, but we did have one other event that was as usual a happy occasion. Last Saturday was our own village carnival. It was a very small affair compared with the lavish Aguilas Carnival that we went to last week, but it is probably the happiest day in the village calendar. Everyone is out to have fun. I will just run through a few of the costumes. Anyone can dress up and join in the procession around the streets, or just be a watcher from the side, but some groups make elaborate costumes, and others are hired. Here are just a few.

It is a real family affair and you see lots of parents in their fancy clothes with a matching toddler or even a baby in a pram.
Some little ones have such elaborate costumes that I wonder how they can walk in them, but this year my favourite was a dear little Nemo. She was so excited and kept running away with a patient parent or grandparent rescuing her every time she went too far. She really made me smile.

Now it is almost time for me to go to choir practice, but I just have time to link up with Annie's Friday Smiles and Rocking Your World, and I will get back when I return home, to see what everyone else is smiling about this week.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Rocking Your World 2018; Week 7

Well I have had a good week this week, and I was hard pressed to chose a 'Smile', but in the end I went for this one, which was taken at Aguilas Carnival on Tuesday night. Lots of colour and happy faces. More about that further down.

First we have a few photos of the special service that I went to last Friday morning, for the licensing of our new priest. Here he is signing his license after it was presented to him by the Archdeacon of Gibraltar.
It was an interesting service with our little church packed full with around 90 people attending. At one point during the proceedings, various people gave Rev. Vincent gifts to symbolise different aspects of his work in the Chaplaincy e.g. Water for baptism by a steward, a children's Bible for the youth work by two children, a Plaque for his work in the community by a representative from Zurgena town hall, and it was nice to see a wooden cross for his ecumenical work given by Father Miguel who is the catholic priest from my village. 
Father Miguel is a lovely man, who is trying to learn English (quite successfully too), so he can speak with the English people in our community. He is in charge of the big church in Mojacar, as well as those in Turre, B├ędar and Los Gallardos. Here he is talking with two of my dear friends, Margie, our almost qualified lay reader, and William, a worship leader.
When we went up to receive communion we were each given a candle which was then lit, and we processed outside with them, singing the lovely modern hymn "Walk, walk, walk in the light". The stiff breeze soon put paid to the candles, but we all stood around the door and those who had been involved in running the service stood by the wall.
Then the Archdeacon stepped forward to give a blessing. Behind him are, from left to right, Father Alan - a retired priest who takes services each week as we have two churches running at the same time, Margie -  our lay-reader, Rev. Vincent - our new priest, William - our worship leader, Edwin - a church army officer who also regularly helps with our services, Alwyn - another worship leader and lay-reader in training, and Father Miguel.

Of course the buffet meal we shared afterwards was a huge success. There were three tables of savouries, shown here, and also two of cakes and biscuits but I did not get a picture of those. I was asked to speak to Father Miguel as I can manage a little Spanish, and he told me it was the first time he had been inside an English church. He was also very interested in our English buffet, but I couldn't persuade him to try anything as he doesn't eat wheat, and I couldn't guarantee what everything was made from.
Everyone had more than enough to eat, and we had quite a feast from the left-overs, with our coffee after the service on Sunday!

The next exciting thing to happen was our trip to Aguilas carnival on Shrove Tuesday. We had to forego our pancakes until the next day as we needed to be at the coach pick-up point by 4.00. It was a trip organised by the local camp-site, and as this was something I have wanted to go to ever since we came out here, it was too good an opportunity to resist. Most places have their own special 'thing'. For our village it is our Three Kings fiesta which is unique for this area, Lubrin has the bread festival, for Lorca it is the Easter parades, and for Aguilas it is the carnival. There are two main parades, the one on Tuesday that we went to, and an even bigger one tomorrow. The main street is lined with tiers of seating, fenced off from the pavements, so people can still pass behind them, and you need to book a seat to get through. Of course that was all done for us through the coach company. When we arrived it was still quite sunny and we had an hour to wait, so we left our bags on the seats and walked down the road to the beach. There was an air of excitement, and by the time we walked back, most of the seats were taken.

We bought a drink and an ice-cream and watched the sun setting over a deserted beach, and then went back to our seats.

The parade itself was great fun. The costumes were amazing. So much work had gone into designing them. Each group had a chosen style and colour and they came passed first the tiny ones, then the bigger children, and then the adults, all dressed the same. Each group was accompanied by a van towing a trailer with usually five 'man'sized' amps, blaring out their music, and every few yards, each group stopped and danced in the street before moving on.
One thing that we noticed was that the men are just as enthusiastic as the ladies. They happily dress in shocking pink latex suits, weighed down with rhinestones and sequins, and head-dresses of feathers, and they dance as energetically as the ladies do. This starts from when they are quite small. Boys who in UK would be wearing a football kit, and who would laugh at a boy dressed for dancing, were on the floats strutting their stuff, along with the girls, because of course, it is their culture to do so.
How some of them kept those head-dresses on when they danced I don't know. The other thing that certainly wouldn't have been allowed in UK and elsewhere I expect, was children and adults dancing on high trailers with no safety rails, and floors that were rocking around to the vibration of their feet. But we didn't see any casualties, just one adult man who got off and joined the street dancers. He looked as though the motion of the float was making him feel queasy!
It took nearly five hours for the parade to pass us, 6-00 - 11.00, and I took so many photos that both my camera and phone ran out of batteries! And it was very difficult to chose some to show you the range of costumes etc. In the end I got it down to about 25 which I will add at the end of this post for anyone who is interested.

That was the two highlights of my week but here are a few other happy moments. At the sewing group on Wednesday I have been helping a lady learn to crochet. I started her off on just straight lines going back and forth, which needs care at either end to keep the edges straight, and she had just about mastered that. So this week I showed her how to make a square. She was struggling a bit. She was really concentrating, but it is quite noisy in the group and there are a lot of distractions. 
But when she got home she had another go, and that evening she sent me this photo.
She was so excited, and it is lovely when I know I have really helped someone. I have another lady wanting to get started next week. I usually do a bit of my own work while I am with them, so they don't feel I am watching their every move, so that is my squares on the table, abandoned while I took the photo. I am making good progress with my blanket, and am looking forward to seeing how it all comes together.
Yesterday I found another of God's wonderful creations by my outside sink. I really don't like spiders, especially if they get on me, but I can't help but admire the work of the creator. This little fellow was no more than a centimetre long, but there was so much detail on it.  It had a red body with a white design on it, and a black thorax also patterned, and it obligingly sat still while I took its photo!

Today I made the effort to get up a little earlier than usual, so by 9.00 I was heading to Turre market to buy the ingredients for another batch of piccalilli. I have sold out of it, and people keep asking me when I am going to make some more. It was one of those days when all the fruit and vegetables looked so fresh and beautiful. I usually post a photo of my 'harvest' in the Autumn, but as I unpacked my shopping onto the kitchen table I thought it deserved a photo too. So here is my Spring harvest. It is coming to the end of the orange season now, so I made sure to get some of these huge oranges, and a bag of mandarins as well. The strawberries are just come back in at a sensible price now, and the sweet peppers are just perfect. The fruit and potatoes are not for the piccalilli but most of the rest is, so I guess I'll be having a chopping up session this afternoon, ready to cook and bottle it tomorrow.
 And that just leaves me with some sky pictures. We had some small lenticular clouds one day. I thought someone was sending me a smoke signal. 
The next day was very windy and the clouds were torn apart into long thin strips.
But then we had one day when the clouds gathered just as the sun was setting and we had this beautiful sky.
Now I will just link up with Annie's Friday Smiles, and Rocking Your World, and then I will post all the carnival photos promised above - but only if you want to look.