Friday, October 26, 2018

Rocking Your World 2018; Week 43

Once again our weather forecasters got it right and we were treated to some pretty heavy storms over the weekend, though not as severe as we had been led to expect. But when we got up on Sunday we discovered that the overnight rain had been laden with desert sand again. The little tiled table by my outside sink was a mess.
And this was the bowl of water I keep for the cats, just by the back door. I had only cleaned it out and refilled it the day before!
Fortunately they have drinking bowls indoors as well. We bought a new one for Arwen this week as she is still jumping in the bath and waiting for us to turn the taps on. So I decided she either likes her water fresh and running, or else, as I suspect, her eyesight is failing and the running water makes enough noise to help her locate it. So when I spotted this fountain this week I thought it would be perfect for her.
She investigated it at once, and now drinks happily from one or other of the water spouts. It makes enough noise to attract her attention but not so much that it disturbs me when I am working down here. Its other advantage is that it is ceramic, so apart from the pump, all the parts can go in the dish washer.

One evening Chris called me to see a little visitor in the front garden. It was this not-so-little caterpillar, with a very distinctive yellow and black striped head, and an orange horn on its rear end.

It reared its head when I approached with the camera, but considering the evening was drawing in, I managed to get a couple of good photos.
I have tried to identify it, and I am sure it is a hawk moth caterpillar, but there are so many different ones, and so far I have been unable to discover exactly which one this is.

I had another happy, squishy parcel this week. It was the big ball of shade changing wool that I am taking on holiday for a smaller project while I am away. We will see how much I can achieve in two weeks before I show it.

This morning I went to a coffee morning at a friends house, to raise money for our church funds. She holds one each Spring and one in the Autumn and they are usually well attended. There were stalls selling stitched and knitted items, jewelry, books, plants and bric-a-brac. When we had finished browsing and buying, we sat outside in the sun to chat, and to draw the raffle. After an uncertain start earlier, it was really hot out there. It was good to catch up with friends who we only see once or twice a year.
Just behind us there was a beautiful bed of flowering shrubs. Her roses are still beautiful, and even her geraniums still have flowers on. Her house is only a half-hour drive from us, but she is much higher than us, and her plants always seem to be a month or so behind us. My roses have almost finished, though there was a sudden rush of new buds after the rain.

On Wednesday night I was busy writing Christmas cards for all my friends and family in UK. Last night I wrote a family newsletter to go in some of them, so now they are all sealed and addressed and ready for me to buy stamps for, when I arrive in UK next week, and then I will leave them with my son to post later in the month. I am really happy to know that is done.

And now I will finish with a little story, but first let me introduce Poppy Pig. Mum and I both had a love of poppies. I bought Poppy for her many years ago, and of course she loved her. Sadly she passed away over twenty years ago, so Poppy came back to me and has had a place on one of my shelves ever since.
The little brown pig who stands with her is something that I made some fifty years ago at teacher training college. I had little confidence in my ability as a crafter in those days, having been told all through school that I was useless!! But we were charged with the task of finding some clay and making something with it. So I cycled to a place near Bosham Harbour and dug up some red clay from the road side. I took it back to the college where I shaped and glazed it, and it was then fired. He also stood on mum's shelves until he came back home to me. 
This morning I was talking to some friends about pottery and they said they had recently visited an elderly potter in Albox who still uses the old traditional methods. (He is now on my list of places and people to visit). He told them this story about the origin of the 'piggy bank'. Back in the days when many folk lived on isolated plots, they would take some clay from the ground, hollow it out and fashion a shape vaguely resembling a pig. All year members of the family would put any change they could spare into the pig, and at the end of the year it was broken open and the money used to buy a pig which would be fattened up to feed all the family for the next year. I don't know whether that is true, but it seems quite likely. A nice little story anyway.

And now I am getting ready for the final choir practice before our trip to London. I still can't believe I am going to be singing in the Royal Albert Hall next Saturday. So this time next week I will be just about arriving at our hotel in London and writing a blog will be the last thing on my mind. So I am afraid I will be absent for not just next week, but possibly the two following Fridays as well. I return here on Saturday 15th November. I will have my phone and tablet with me so I will try to pop in and visit you, but I am not very good at using them for anything as complicated as writing a blog post, so I will save up my news for when I get back.

So I will now link up with Annie's Friday Smiles and Rocking Your World, and I'll be back when I can.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Rocking Your World 2018: Week 42

We are getting through those weeks aren't we, and already it is Friday again, and time to look at all the happy moments in the last week. And it has been a good week here. This is partly due to the fact that it was my husband Chris' birthday on Monday and mine on Wednesday.
We don't make a huge 'thing' of our birthdays these days, but we each had some beautiful cards to open, and on Wednesday evening we went to one of our favourite restaurants for a lovely dinner. (I forgot to take any photos!). I asked Chris not to buy me a present but instead to pay for my new glasses when I have my eyes tested in UK next month. Then the money I had saved up for them, I can spend on anything that catches my eye when I browse the shops in Birmingham. I am sure I will have no difficulty in spending it there!

Our flights were booked a while ago, but this week I also bought the train tickets I will need to travel between the boys houses, and I sent them all a schedule of my plans for the two weeks, ending with "and on Saturday I fly home to recover!". It is going to be a very busy two weeks and I am so looking forward to it now. Only two more weeks to go.

Last year was my seventieth birthday and a couple of weeks before that I travelled to UK and we had a huge family gathering for a party, at our son's house, which is when the photo on my blog header was taken. Then I went down to the south coast to stay with my sister Jean for a few days, and then she came back to Spain with me for my actual birthday. When I visit her we nearly always spend a morning at the big Hobbycraft store, and then cross the road and browse round a beautiful garden centre-come-gift shop. While we were in there, Jean managed to not only find a perfect birthday present for me, but she bought it without me knowing, wrapped and packed it, and brought it here to give me on the 'right' day. Somehow there was too much gong on then so I didn't get around to showing it to you, but now it too is having a birthday, albeit a first one, so I thought I'd introduce you to duck. Isn't she lovely?

She has a rather sad look in her eye but I don't think she is sad at all. I just love things made from wood. She is so smooth and tactile and I often just stroke her for a while. When she turns her head, she shows her other face which is a deep reddish wood.
I think she is quite proud of her two colours, but her best secret lies on the label around her neck. This is what it says.
Doesn't that just make her extra special?

We have had several days that are a mixture of rain and sunshine this week, but on Wednesday we were blessed with a lovely sunny afternoon so I spent my birthday sitting out on the porch and I read a whole book. That is luxury I don't have very often.
But I have also spent some time this week with my crochet projects. My set of four hangers are finished and ready to wrap up as gifts, so I turned my attention to my new blanket. I needed to work out a proper colour scheme so I got out my yarn pegs. I keep a stash of wool and almost all of it is Stylecraft Special Double Knit acrylic yarn. It comes in 46 colours and I try to keep at least one ball of every colour. I also have wound a peg in each colour so I play with them when I am working out a scheme for a project.
This is more or less what I ended up with. I don't want my blanket to be in harsh stripes so I am gradually moving from one colour to the next always using two that contrast well, but changing them randomly. Here is the part I have done this week which I am only showing so you can see what I mean about the colour changes.
The actual stitch pattern will change a little soon but I will still stagger the colours.

The week ended on a good note too as today we had another church fund-raiser, and Yes, of course it involved food! Back in the spring we held a "posh picnic" and it was so successful, we decided to do it again. It was to be at the same site, up by the village fuente, where there is plenty of space, and some picnic tables set up under pergolas. However the weather was not so kind. We had heavy rain yesterday, and more in the night, and when the organisers checked the area, they found a lot of mud making the ground a bit unsuitable for the less-able among our group, and the seats and tables were very wet, so it was decided to use the patio outside the church instead. When we arrived the sun had decided to come out, so there were six tables beautifully laid up for eight settings each, and the big parasols were up in faith that the sun would remain for the afternoon, which it did.
Before long, the guests started to arrive and soon all the tables were filled. We were served with cava (sparkling wine) and canapés, and then a huge array of pies, meats, salads and potatoes. Here is just a small selection of what was on offer.

For those who still had a small space to fill there were trifles, chocolate mousse, meringues and lemon cake which all looked delicious.
And this is our dear friend Dawn who with her partner and daughter were responsible for making most of the food.
After the meal we were given a quiz which was a bit different from the usual. A common English proverb was written in ten different European languages and we had to say what language they were. Our table found nine out of ten and won a bottle of wine to share.
As we drove home the clouds were gathering again, so we were really lucky to have had such a lovely afternoon. It had been warm without being uncomfortable hot, with no sign of clouds until the end. It is getting even cloudier now and there is a red alert over much of Spain this weekend for the worst storm since 2005, so we will have to wait and see what happens.

With most days ending with clouds, I have seen some beautiful sunsets this week so now I am going to blind you all with their brilliance. The best ones were on Sunday when I saw this as it started, and then sat outside watching as the sun sank lower and the colours changed from yellow and orange to a deep pink.

Although there were fewer clouds to break it up, the sunset last night was equally stunning. When I went out the back to give the dogs their tea, there were dark, heavy clouds with a very bright yellow line below them.
As it got darker the glow spread and widened out.
Turning around, the sky behind me was lighter but just grey, and the dying rays of the sun were reflected off the Cabrera mountains, staining them a rosy pink.
Then  suddenly the sky became dark except where the sun was setting, and there it looked as though the whole sky was on fire. Then just as suddenly, it was gone!

So there you have it. I am not sure how it will end today. It might be quite tame after that, but I am going to close here and link up with Annie's Friday Smiles and Rocking Your World on Virginia's blog, and then go and watch the sun go to bed!

Friday, October 12, 2018

Rocking Your World 2018: Week 41

Here I am a little earlier than usual. I am not able to do my usual weekend 'milk and bread' shop as today in Spain it is La Fiesta Nacional de España, or Día de la Hispanidad, which is a bank holiday so all the shops will be closed. So I thought I'd take the opportunity to blog early and save the rush before I go to choir practice later.

I am starting with two pictures that I took last week and forgot to post. These little birds (mostly sparrows), are roosting in a tree down in the green zone behind our house. They had been on a feeding frenzy and were settling down for the night, but first they had a good gossip session about their day. They may be tiny, but boy did they have a lot to say!

My week got off to a good start as we had a special service of dedication at church - where we re-dedicate ourselves and the church  for its work in our community. And of course, we followed it with one of our great fellowship lunches. I had made my offerings on Saturday, tuna fish paté wrapped in puff pastry, and a 'Yum-yum cake', a cross between a shortbread and a cake topped with cherries and walnuts in meringue. As usual there was an abundance of food, and everyone enjoyed sitting around either outside in the sun, or inside where it was cooler, chatting, eating and drinking and enjoying the 'Fellowship'. We sat with our friends David and Darren.
David, in the white shirt, is our church rep, liaising between us and the two other churches in our chaplaincy. We are lucky to have so many willing and able men in our gathering. Two others who joined us when they moved out a few months ago, are also making themselves useful.
Keith (far left) and Peter (centre back), have taken over the organisation of our food bank. This week, with the help of some friends,  they sorted and delivered twenty-three bags of food to Zurgena Town hall for distribution to needy families.

A few weeks ago I showed some wool I was knitting with. It has been a bit of a struggle, as the recent damp weather has woken up my arthritis, but I am happy to say my cardigan is finished... and even happier to say that it fits! I just love the Autumnal colours, and though it doesn't show in the photos, there is a gold lurex thread running through it too.

Needless to say I still have other projects to finish, but even so I gave into temptation and ordered some more wool! My squishy parcel has arrived and I love all those bright colours. But when one of my friends posted this on our sewing group Facebook page, I had to smile.
But I don't just collect it, I do use it, and I have already made a small start on a new blanket. I have other things that I need to finish before my UK trip next month, but I am intrigued by this pattern, and wanted to have a go. It is called mosaic crochet, and it depends on the use of two contrasting colours to highlight the interwoven pattern. There will be seven sections; i.e. seven different patterns. Some people are doing each section in a pair of contrasting colours. Others are using one variegated yarn and one plain one for the whole blanket, and some are changing colours randomly as they go along. I am going for the last of these, so at some time first one, and then the other colour will change, so I will use up some of my 'half balls' of yarn, and I think it will be an interesting result. This is my opening rows.
The designer is from Iceland and her original blanket was made in aran weight yarn (worsted weight for my USA friends), but that would make a far too heavy blanket for me so I am using my favourite DK acrylic yarn. There is a Facebook page for people making this blanket and just out of interest, the administrator asked us to say what country we are in. Amazingly there are people making it in forty-one countries worldwide. It is called Havana. I shall have to be strong willed and leave mine now until I have finished what I need to do, but I am looking forward to working on it through the winter.

Yesterday we had a drier day than of late so I decided to go round the road and into the green zone to see whether the pomegranates are ripe. It is a bit of a mission, because although the children play down there, and have trodden down some rough paths, no-one actually cares for it, or clears away the debris each season, and you have to tread carefully. To gain access you have to climb up three crumbling terrace walls, which are easier getting up than back down! All summer it has been quite barren down there. The tall grasses had died leaving long brown stalks that scratch and trip the careless walker, and the trees were bare and brown. But after the recent storm it has come alive again, and it was good to see it looking so green.

I managed to locate the pomegranate tree that I can see from our railings and it was heavy with fruit.
They look ripe so I selected a few to take home.
I have often shown photos taken from the back of our house, looking down into the green zone, so before I left I took one of our house, looking up from the green zone. The first one shows how high above the zone we are situated.
And this one shows more clearly our lovely bright pink bougainvillea and the pink oleander next to it. The window on the left is my craft room, so this is my view when I am sitting here at my desk.
When I got home I washed my fruit. They are such a lovely colour and they shone in the sunlight. I haven't used them yet, but I will. These are the ones you saw on my blog as bright orange flowers, and then tiny fruit forming, several weeks ago.

That is just about it for this week. A week or two ago I showed our elderly cat Paco, actually sharing a table top with Charlie, and this week I was even more surprised to find him asleep on the settee with Kim. I am amazed either of them are tolerating the other at such close quarters. I managed to creep in and get this picture of them, but neither of them look too happy to have their rest disturbed.

And finally, of course, I have one sky photo. There have not been many red sunsets lately, but there have been plenty of cloud formations, and on Wednesday I just caught it as the sun funneled its dying rays down around the clouds it was beautiful.
So now I am linking up with Virginia at Rocking Your World, and Annie's Friday Smiles, and popping over to see their happy moments from this week. Why not follow me?

Friday, October 5, 2018

Rocking Your World 2018: Week 40

This picture makes me smile. Although Charlie is a lovely cat, he really doesn't like the dogs, and has not made friends with our other cats very much. He sometimes sits close with Tango, and just tolerates the rest, accepting that they live here too, but that doesn't mean he has to interact with them.

Just under the window in Chris' 'office' there is a spare table where he tends to dump folders, cables and anything else that is in the way on his desk, and Charlie likes to sit there in the mornings. But we were really surprised to go in there this week and find both him and Paco occupying a space on the table. They were both dozing, but later Charlie rolled over so he was facing Paco, and they still stayed there for a long time. There is hope for them yet!

We had a lovely service at church on Sunday, but it was a bitter-sweet one as we said 'Good-bye' to a couple who, having sold their house here, decided to return to UK. They have been a part of our 'group' ever since we moved out here ten years ago, and for several years before that. William is a trained worship leader, and his gentle wisdom has held us all together through some rocky times, as well as the good ones. They are both sign language users,(not out of need, but to help at their church in UK before they moved out here), and sometimes Sylvia would stand at the front and sign through one of the hymns, which was lovely to see. They will both be sorely missed, but I am sure we will all stay in touch with them. The lovely Father Alan took the service and blessed them on their new journey.

It was the first Sunday that we have put out the chairs and tables on the patio for our after-service cuppa, since around May, as it has been too hot. This week it was sunny and warm and several of us chose the outside rather than the more crowded room indoors.

This week I have been working hard to finish the cardigan I am knitting before my holiday in UK in November. There is not too much more to do so I think I will manage to get it done in time. I have also covered a couple more hangers but they still need some flowers to decorate them. October is our family's busy month for birthdays, so I had some cards to make as well. But yesterday I had a moment of madness and decided to make some bread. I used to make it all the time, and although I do have a bread-maker machine, I still prefer what I make by hand. But full of good intentions I do buy the strong flour sometimes, and the little cubes of fresh yeast which are readily available in our supermarkets, and in my opinion are far better than dried yeast, but they rarely get used. I can't think of when I last made a loaf from scratch, but the ingredients were in the cupboard so I had a go. I must say I was pleased with the result.
It's a bit lopsided, (quite a big bit if I am honest), so I didn't put an even layer of dough in the tin, but at least it rose, and had a good cracked crust on the top. Of course we had to eat some for tea, and when I cut it the texture was even with not too many holes, so I guess it was a successful try. The kitchen smelled wonderful while it was cooking. I must do it again soon.

This morning I made an earlier start than usual as I wanted to go to Turre market to buy vegetables for a batch of piccalilli, and you have to be early to get a parking space. But it turned out that there was no market today because it is their patronal fiesta, so the streets were lined with fair-ground rides instead of market stalls! So I drove on to Lidls for my fruit and vegetable shopping, as their fresh produce is always good, and then on to the other shops I needed to visit. In Lidls I bought two kalenchoe plants, an apricot orange one and a yellow one. In UK they are a popular house plant, but out here they prefer to be in the garden, and they keep blooming for months. They are also resilient in all types of weather, so I wanted them to sit on our porch stand. They are full of buds so should give us some colour for a long time.
And that's about it for this week. It is very pleasant here now, with temperatures around the upper twenties, a gentle breeze most days, and cooler, more comfortable nights so we sleep better. The clouds still gather some days but it remains warm. I just caught the end of one pretty sky earlier in the week, so I'll close with that, link up with Rocking Your World, and Annie's Friday Smiles, and I'll see you again next week.