Friday, August 16, 2019

Rocking Your World 2019; Week 33

I thought I'd start this week with a couple of photos that didn't get included in last week's post, as they all made me smile. 

There is no getting away from the fact that our son Mike is a 'bit overweight'! But his sons really brought this home to him when they decided to share his swimming shorts, one in each leg. In fairness, Mike has lost some weight this year, and the shorts really did need their tie-ups, but a few more pounds to go I think son.

A couple of years back, when we had our first really 'small people' visiting us, we were quite anxious as to how Kim would behave around them. But we need not have worried. Right from the start he has loved them all. Here he is having a cuddle with Herbie, and another where he is sitting on Fin while he browses his phone.

Fortunately, they all love him too. He will have two more little friends next week when my great-grandsons arrive.
Last Sunday was the end of the 'week of culture' in our village. Each evening there was some drama on a stage in the school playground. One night it is performed by some of the children, another by adults from the village and on another there was a visiting drama group. But on the last night there is always some sort of street procession/presentation, aimed mainly at the children. This year it was loosely based on a wild west show. There was a basic covered wagon set up on the plaza, and a group of performers played various instruments, sang and danced.
It is all very simple, but somehow it is fun too. Although these things don't kick-off until around 10.00, there was a good crowd of children and parents there. They soon had all the children up running around them and playing games. Then they led them off around the streets pulling the wagon with them on a trolley.
All good entertainment, and I love to see everyone getting involved.
The other morning while I was clearing up outside I found this.
It is obviously the shed skin of a grasshopper, but I think it is amazing that they can wriggle out and leave such a perfect shell. Even the ratchets on its legs can be seen. Sadly it has lost one leg, but it was blowing around in the yard so I expect it was complete when it was first shed.
We have had some slightly overcast mornings and one day I went straight outside when I got up to see what clouds there were before I did a load of washing. On the electricity cables across our street I saw this line up of young swallows. Aren't they cute. They were taking it in turns to do little practice flights and then landing again. Soon they will be moving on from here.

One morning in a mad moment I decided to try making bread again. It is ages since I last did, and I knew it probably wasn't wise in this hot weather. But to save handling it too much I used my old bread making machine. It was OK but it kind of over-grew! I ended up with a very tall loaf, with lots of holes in it.
It tasted OK and we have eaten most of it. The next day I tried again making a smaller loaf, using half and half wholemeal and white flour, and with the addition of a small cup of mixed seeds. This time it was more successful. It didn't overflow the pan and the texture and flavour of the bread was much better. But I think I'll wait until it is cool enough to make it by hand before I have another go.
We had been busy around the house all day on Wednesday so in the evening we decided to drive down to Garrucha for a stroll along the promenade. We stopped at a bar for a drink and it looked so lovely and peaceful out across the sea.
As we watched we realised the moon was rising behind the palm trees.
So as we continued to walk along I stopped to take a photo of the light from the moon on the water.To me it is the perfect picture of a lovely evening.
It is actually quite a deceiving picture because, although the beach was empty, the promenade and seafront bars were heaving with people. Garrucha is a seaside resort where many Spanish families come for their holidays. There is a great vibe there, and it reminded me of the places we came to on holiday before we moved out. I do love walking along here in the winter months when it can be almost deserted, but sometimes it is nice to be a part of the throng; everyone enjoying themselves.
I must include this photo which really made me smile. Whenever we come down here, the dock across the marina is a hive of activity with a constant stream of lorries bringing gravel to the barges which queue up out at sea to receive it. But on this night the lorries had done their quota for the day and the dock was still, with this line up of little tractors that look like a child's perfect playground.

My oldest son Jim, has been the vicar of St Paul's in Pendeford, Wolverhampton for the last fourteen years, but now it is time for him to move on. His last child starts university in September so the time seemed right, and he has been offered the seat as the vicar of St Bartholomew's in Sydenham, Kent. It is a big change for all the family. A very different church and a different community but they are looking forward to the challenge. Jim's licensing service is on 31st October, and I am going to it! Today I booked my flights. I shall be based at our son Ben's house in Birmingham, but I will include a visit to my sisters in Bournemouth, and also spend a week end in our son Jonathan's new house. So I have plenty to look forward to this autumn.
I was sitting out on the porch under a strong fan, trying to do a bit of crochet work one evening, when I noticed a rosy glow all around in the sky. I went out the back where the sun sets and found this beautiful sky in shades of apricot, pink and purple. So I'll leave you with this beautiful sight.
And now I'll link up with Rocking Your World, and Annie's Friday Smiles.

Friday, August 9, 2019

Rocking Your World 2019; Week 32

Yes, here we are at week 32 already. And where was I for week 31 I hear you ask. My answer, I don't know. My visitors arrived on Thursday night and it immediately felt like the weekend. A few days later I realised I had completely forgotten to write my blog! So apologies to anyone who came looking for it. Now to catch up. 
In the day or two before our visitors arrived, I had a sudden urge to make some scrapbook layouts so I made this double page about the foam party we went to a couple of weeks ago. They are made digitally using Photoshop and purchased templates, but I like to print them out 12" x 12", and keep them in an album so I can look at them now and then. These will go in my "Random pages" album.

There are not many good flights for the family to come out here now, but Mike and family managed to find flights to Almeria (our closest airport), at a very reasonable cost, but it meant arriving, and leaving a week later, quite late on a Thursday evening. 

As I don't like driving after dark, and they needed the space in the car, Chris went on his own to meet them, and I used some of the time to give the front garden a good watering, knowing it might be neglected for the next week. I came across this little fellow. Although not the biggest one I have seen, he was a fair size 2.5 inches (5cm) maybe, and such a handsome fellow, I just had to take his picture.
Before long the two cars rolled up; the first carrying Mike and his two boys, and then Chris with Mike's partner Lucy and her two boys. So we were one big family again all week which was lovely.

Although it was getting on for 11.00 at night, they all jumped into the pool for a cool down before the boys went to bed. That is the joy of having your own pool. The communal ones on urbanisations, and the hotel ones, usually have a curfew time around 9.00pm, but we love our late night dips.
Chris and I no longer enjoy long, hot days on the beach so we prefer to stay at home while they go off somewhere, and then they all come back, and we eat and swim together at home.
Mike swam in the sea before he was a year old, and he loves the sea. He was determined to swim in it every day while he was here, and he did. He also likes throwing himself of rocks into deep pools and has always encouraged his boys to do the same. They had seen a recognised cliff-jumping spot near us on the internet, so one day they set off there. They started off from the lower platform and the two boys encouraged each other to take a 'leap of faith'.
Then Mike and his younger son went up to the higher point and both jumped from there. Apparently the sea below was teeming with coloured fish and other sea life and they had a good time with snorkles and masks afterwards. They scare me sometimes, but Mike is very safety conscious and even though there were plenty of local lads jumping, he still swam around and checked the water depth and rocky edges before letting the boys jump.
One day I did go out with them and it meant leaving home around 6.00 am. We wanted to go down to the beach and watch the sun rise over the sea. There was a thinnish cloud layer on the horizon so we had to wait a while. How did Mike fill the time? With a swim of course.  The sea was warm and I almost wished I had taken my costume too, so I could join him. I paddled and got most of my dress very wet, but I soon dried off.
Lucy and her youngest son spent the time raiding the pools for stones and shells and together they made a sand art cat.
I could see a small speck on the horizon but couldn't make out what it was, so I set my camera on full zoom, and took this. It was actually quite a large fishing boat, probably making its way home to Garrucha harbour.
Our wait was eventually rewarded. We saw a pale red globe showing through the clouds. It gradually became clearer until it finally burst out, a hot, red ball of fire.

The teen stood on a rock watching it but I think he would rather have been at home in bed!
Was the wait worth it? Of course it was. I love to see the light reflected off the water. Here are a couple of pictures I took before we headed to one of our favourite cafés for some breakfast.

Another day we all went up to the huge pool at the top of the village. It is only open for July and August, but it is kept spotlessly clean, and water is lovely and warm.
In the evening we all went out for a meal together and we managed to get a fairly decent group photo (excluding Chris who was holding the camera).
That picture, together with this one, sums up a perfect holiday for Mike - surrounded by his family, with sandy toes and the sea right by him. So all in all it was a good week.
In the hour before they left for the airport, the youngest boy made me this card using the cereal packet he had emptied that morning. He was using a multi-coloured biro pen which is not the easiest, and there are a few hot, sticky finger-prints, but I think it is pretty good for a six year old, and I was very touched by it. I hope you can read it. Clicking on my photos should allow you to enlarge them.

Today it seems very quiet here! I am taking it easy, but I did get the first two loads of washing done. There is still a lot of bedding and pool towels to go, but the upside of these hot days is that they only need half an hour on the line to be dry. This is the thermometer on our Farmacia in the village today. (it said 42º when I drove passed it an hour ago).
Although neither of us have much appetite in this weather, we decided to go to the campsite for our usual Friday fish and chip dinner. At least it meant I didn't have to turn my oven on, and it was a very good meal, as it always is.
And that's it for this week. We have just under two weeks to recover before our next visitors arrive. If I haven't melted away completely by then, I shall be back next week. For now I will just link up with Annie's Friday Smiles and Rocking Your World.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Rocking Your World 2019; Week 30

This week has flown past as usual. Our week with Ben ended with a very pleasant evening at a bar in a local village, where we had gone so Ben could sing some karaoke. It wasn't the best one we have been to, but he wowed them all at the end with his rendition of "You raise me up".
Saturday was spent fairly quietly, sitting round the pool and chatting, as on Sunday we were all up at 'silly o'clock' to see them drive off for the 6+hours trip to Barcelona. It is a good thing there were two of them to share the driving. From there they caught a 1 o'clock train across into France, and picked up the night sleeper train to Paris. Then it was the Eurostar to London, and a final train home to Birmingham, where they arrived Monday lunch time. Whew! I'm glad it wasn't me. Ben hates flying, and because he works for the railway they can travel that way at very low cost, but it would be too much travelling for me.

I filled big bagettes with plenty of meat etc for them to eat on their journey but I think they had fairly basic meals the rest of the way. We still have a traditional Sunday roast just about every week, even when it is this hot, so just to make them jealous I sent them this photo of my oven. Mean aren't I?!

So the rest of this week I have been stripping the beds, washing all the pool towels etc ready for son number two who arrives next Thursday with his partner and their four boys. That will be a hectic week with excited boys and animals, but I look forward to seeing them all again.
When they leave we have two weeks to 'recover' before my grand-daughter, her husband and two gorgeous little boys arrive. Three days before they leave, her brother is coming with his girlfriend, so we'll be playing 'sardines' for those few days. Mikey will be staying for a full week, and I think that will be the end of our visitors for this year. He has been in the summer before, but he usually comes to spend Christmas with us. This is the first time he has brought Lily with him so it will be nice to get to know her better.

On Monday I had a quick trip down to Mojacar to run a few errands. I parked on the sea front and it looked so lovely. There were quite a few holiday makers enjoying the sun but the sea was 'lively' and the red flags were flying all the way along the beach, warning that the sea was too dangerous to swim in. (There are some very strong currents there).It is a shame for the tourists though they mostly have a good pool at their hotel if they want to swim, but I love to see it like that. As the waves rolled over they reflected the sun, and the spray made little rainbows so the surf sparkled like little gems. I tried several setting on my camera to try and catch it, but these were the best I managed.

And one on 'Auto' setting for good measure.

I enjoyed going to my new choir again on Wednesday evening. We are working on part one of Handle's The Messiah for a recital at Christmas, and as one of the pieces is the wonderful "For Unto Us a Child is Born", I decided to use that theme to make a set of eight Christmas cards, all the same, for a challenge I enter each month. Here is one finished one.
I have just started work on a Scrapbook page which I hope to have printed out very soon. I have a big flat-bed colour printer that allows me to print out 12" x 12" scrapbook pages, and this week it decided to stop working. So I am very grateful to have an IT buff for a husband. Chris worked on it this morning and it is fully functioning again now!
And that's about it for this week. I thought I'd leave you with this cute picture that I spotted on Facebook this morning. 
Do follow me over to Annie's Friday Smiles and Rocking Your World, and maybe link a brief post about what has made you smile this week.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Rocking Your World 2019: Week 29

Hello All. This is a photo heavy post so I will keep the chatter to a minimum.

This was, of course, Los Gallardos Fiesta week. It started on Friday and ran through until Tuesday.
We went over for the first time on Saturday afternoon when there was a new feature; The usual 'ribbons event' was run on horses for the older boys and men. Usually this happens over the four days, on little trikes, and push-and-ride toys for the tinies, bikes for the children and motor bikes for the oldest group, but it is more traditionally run on horses; It was just the first year horses have been used in our village. A rope is tied across the street at an appropriate height for the folk taking part, and round it there are rows of ribbons with a metal ring at the bottom. As they pass under the rope, the riders try to catch a ribbon by hooking the ring onto a stick. If it unfurls there is much clapping and cheering, and the successful rider takes it over to a row of girls in pretty dresses, who tie it round the boy like a sash, give him a kiss and a small gift. This is quite amusing as the young men obviously enjoy it all, but some of the youngest contestants refuse to kiss the little girl who is pursuing him. Obviously the ribbons were much higher for the horsemen, and when they managed to catch a ribbon they were given a carnation to give on to their girl, in exchange for the kiss! All good fun.
When we arrived the street had barriers each side and was filled with a good depth of sand for the horses to run on. Then the young ladies filed down and took their places to watch, and finally the horses arrived to take their turn. It was harder than you might expect and a couple of lads were very proud to capture more than one ribbon.
We stood watching for quite some time, but Chris caught me having a little sit down in the sun. Soon after that we went home as our youngest son Ben and his partner were arriving late evening and we wanted to be there ready for them.
They arrived around 10.30. Ben came bearing gifts including a selection box from a special tea company. He knows I love their tea and usually takes me to their shop when I am visiting him. We have tried most of them now and they are all very nice.

Sunday was very hot. Our thermometer was showing 37º in the shade, the hottest so far this year.     My two golden fur babies, Foxy and Tango, were laid out in the coolest place they could find.
But we had a better way to cool down as Sunday afternoon was the now traditional foam party at a local bar. It was a new experience for Ben and Dave, and they didn't know what to expect, but they had a great time.
The street outside the bar was covered with big white parasols, but when the foam cannon appeared it came on quite gently, just covering the area at the end, so the children could have a good play in it. When they had had enough, the power was turned up and the man handling the machine started targeting those of us sitting around the edge. Dave was determined to stay in his seat, but eventually he was buried and had to admit defeat. By the end of the session the foam was billowing right through the covered area and over the bar, but we left to dip in the pool and rinse off the soap.
It feels really soft and cool, but it does sting your eyes a bit after  while. I think it is a very mild soap solution. It soon disappears again and the street it hosed down and back to normal by the evening.
Before we left, Chris and Ben decided to have a father and son competition at drinking out of a porron. On this day they are filled with a mixture of white wine, beer and soda water - quite a heady mix that tends to get drunk very fast. But it is all part of the day's celebrations, and we didn't see anyone getting too silly!
We had a swim when we got home and a rest, and then set out again in the evening. Dad and Dave marched on ahead while Ben and I were taking photos.
The lights were pretty this year, especially as the sky darkened.
The plaza was heaving with families all out to have a fun evening. The plaza is set out with a big stage, lots of tables and chairs, and three temporary bars whose staff work endlessly serving everyone with drinks and tapas. They carry on until around 7.30 the next morning, so after four days they must all need a holiday!
The fair ground is in full swing all night as well, with a dragon roller coaster, a 'big ride' that goes high and fast, and a very big bumper car rink.

Before we went home to sleep, we each had a very good mojito. That is always my fiesta treat, but last year the staff were too busy to make them. This year there was a new stand only making mojitos, so we made sure we got one this time, and they were delicious.

I think in UK the Health and Safety officials might have a heart attack, and some things just would not be allowed. For example, the fairground rides were just standing on small concrete blocks set out on a hard mud pitch, and this was the wiring for the foam cannon. To announce each event as it starts and at the end, rockets are set off. They are very loud and not pretty at all. If you do see one go up there is just a quick, bright flash along with the bang. They start half the dogs in the village barking. Foxy spends most days in her bolt hole behind the sofa, but Kim toughs it out with just a whimper now and then. On the last day they set of volley after volley of them, from wire rings fixed to a street barrier, but the single ones are often let off from someone's hand!
Despite this rather worrying approach, no-one ever seems to get hurt.
Tuesday was the final day of the fiesta, when there is an open air mass for our patronal saint, Virgen del Carmen. An altar is set up in front of the stage and the village choir assemble there, always dressed in something pretty.
People from all over the village flock to the plaza and it is an occasion for many of them to dress up, regardless of their age. They look so pretty, though I sometimes wonder how they walk or sit in them.
Then the statue of the Virgin is carried down from the church and everyone offers flowers to her, stacking them up around her feet and on a trestle at the side.
After the mass, the altar is cleared away and the band and singers are back for one last night of music.
We had had enough by midnight and made our way home, stopping for my second treat, churros with thick hot chocolate to dip it in. The churros is a batter squeezed into hot oil in a spiral and then cut up. I love it and so did Dave. The other two had a piece each but we ate most of it.

So, with another fiesta under our belts, Ben and Dave have enjoyed a quieter few days, dipping in and out of the pool, reading and just chatting with us. On Wednesday night we went out for a Chinese meal which was lovely as usual, and last night we went round the corner to our local bar for the regular quiz night. We didn't do particularly well in the quiz though we didn't come last, but Ben won a prize in the raffle.
Then Chris won a half share in a round of playing card Bingo, pocketing enough to cover the cost of our games, and then I won a round of Bingo, another 47€ so it was a good night for us.
And finally here is my attempt to photograph the partial luna eclipse. Its not brilliant, but not too bad.
And on that note I had better link up with Rocking Your World and Annie's Friday Smiles, and get back to my visitors. We are off to a bar in the next village soon so Ben can sing some karaoke. I'll be back tomorrow to visit you all.