Friday, June 29, 2018

Rocking Your World 2018; Week 26

Hello my friends. It is week 26 so we are half-way though the year already! Here is what has made me smile this week.
This is my sixteen year old (soon to be seventeen) grandson. It is the same young man who spoke so eloquently in the House of Commons on Youth Parliament day last year, and at the end of this school year he also won Best Student Award for Drama. I think he going to do well in life, and I couldn't be prouder of him.
Amias is the son of our oldest son Jim, and here is our youngest son Ben, who had a great week's holiday here last week. I love this photo he took on his last day - a fond farewell to Kim - for now. He is not allowed animals in his house, but he loves making a fuss of ours when he comes here, and as you can see, the feeling is mutual.
And seeing as I am talking about my sons, here is son number two, Mike, with none other than our lovely hostess Annie. You have all seen the beautiful things she sews, and she has kindly donated one of her eye-spy quilts to Severn Hospice where Mike works as a fund-raising advisor, so he popped along to see her and took this quick selfie with her, with two of the little munchkins in the background. Small World isn't it?!

My week has been a fairly quiet one, as it often is after visitors have left. With plenty of sunshine is was no problem to get the bedding and towels washed and dried, ready for the next visitors, and I have had enough spare time to sit in my craft room and actually get a few things made. I am not interested in football, despite having a husband and five sons who all are, so whenever a match is on, I slip away and follow my own preferred way of relaxing.
We are invited to a party tomorrow for my friends birthday and wedding anniversary, and she is very fond of hearts and has several decorating her house, so I made these for her. I shall give them to her at choir tonight, and as far as I know, she doesn't see my blog, so I am quite safe to show them here.

This morning Chris and I went to Garrucha market. we don't get there often although it is only a ten minute drive away. It is very busy and parking can be difficult, but over the winter, they did a lot of work improving the roads and access to the port, and made a lot more parking spaces, so it is much easier now. We managed to buy two pairs of shorts for Chris. The sizing can be a bit 'odd' on market goods, so it is no good buying them unless he is with me.

The fruit was very tempting. The stalls are piled high with peaches and cherries in June and July and I just love them! I settled on cherries this week. They are going right down in price, so next week I shall buy some to cover with brandy and hide at the back of the cupboard. This year we are drinking 'cherry brandy' started in 2012 and it is delicious!

And I will leave you with a couple of photos of our cats. Charlie is quite at home with us now and I had to smile when it was 'feeding time at the Perry zoo', and all four of them had their noses in their dishes. Fortunately they know which is their own, and rarely try to eat from the wrong one. Tango has a special diet, so I make sure no-one else takes that! I used to feed him separately in the kitchen, but while the work was being done, he got used to having it out in the hall with the others.
Now Charlie is out there too, on the other side of the door, so I couldn't get him in the same picture. He has his own little feeding mat that he brought with him, so it seemed sensible to keep using it.
And that's about it for this week. Now we are off for our usual Fish and chip dinner, and then I have choir practice. With only three more sessions before we close for the summer, we have to work hard at those songs for London.
There is just time for me link up with Annie's Friday Smiles and Rocking your World at Virginia's blog, before we go out.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Rocking Your World 2018: Week 25

Just a quickie this week as I have enjoyed a lovely restful week with our son Ben, out here with his partner Dave for a week of sunshine.

They go home tomorrow so Ben and I took a quick selfie with a backdrop of our beautiful bright pink bougainvillea and oleander. It would have been better if we hadn't chosen to take it in full sun, but our smiles say it all really!

And they haven't been disappointed. We picked them up from Almeria airport last Saturday night, and as we drove home we watched this lovely sunset (sorry about the dirty windows on the car!).
Since then there has barely been a cloud in the sky, and although it has been hot each day, it is not yet so hot that you can't sit out in it.
They come for a break from work, and the hustle of life in Birmingham city, so much of the week has been spent lounging outside, reading, chatting, listening to music and dipping in the pool when a cool down is needed. Ben may be in his thirties now, but he still likes to prove that he can do a back somersault into the water. All those years at the gym club paid off. Our pool is not all that deep so he needs to land feet first, but he always does.

After their first full day here, we went to a local bar for the evening karaoke session. They know Ben there now and he always gets a warm reception. The same folk go most weeks, so they like to have a different voice to listen to, and he often chooses less well known songs too.
We'll probably go for another karaoke session tonight, at a different bar, after my choir practice.

We did have some more water fun on Wednesday afternoon when we bought half-day tickets at the water park in Vera. I don't go on all the scary slides, though it was so warm in the big swimming lake and the wave pool, that I had a lovely time in those. The park only runs for a short season so has only been open for a few weeks, and everywhere was sparkling clean, and there were little queues as the schools did not finish until today. I expect next week it will be much busier.
Ben, Dave and my husband Chris, tried out most of the slides before coming to the waves with me. Then Chris minded the bags etc while Ben and Dave did the slides again and I did my best to catch them on camera. That's no mean feat when they are hurtling over a blind ledge, or out of a black tube, so I was quite pleased with the shots I got.

Apart from that we have enjoyed some nice meals out together, and a fun barbecue at home. Last night we went to my favourite bar in the village for a quiz night. We came somewhere in the middle of the results so we didn't shine, but we didn't embarrass ourselves either. After the quiz there was raffle for local charities and Chris won a bottle of gin and some tonics, and Dave won a bottle of Limoncello. Then we had five rounds of card bingo, and Ben won one game, and Dave won shared-first place in the last game, so they had around 60€ in prize money between them. All in all, it was a successful night.

On Tuesday a parcel arrived bringing me the new yarn I have been waiting for. My blanket is packed away but I still need something to do when I am sitting around, so I am making a lacy shawl in 4ply cotton yarn, which will be much lighter and easier to handle during the summer. I have made a little start. It is in individual motifs, but they are joined up as you go. It will be triangular with thirteen motifs along each side, and I am doing mine in ivory with a band of turquoise along each edge. I may do the border in blue as well, and then there is a fringe along each side. So this is very much a work in progress.
And now I must rush to get ready for choir. Tonight we are being tested to see if we can all remember Hallelujah Chorus without looking at our scores, as we need to do this at the London concert in November. So I will quickly link up with Annie's Friday Smiles and Rocking Your World, and be on my way.

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.