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.