Friday, March 29, 2019

Rocking Your World 2019; Week 13

I wish someone would slow the clock down. I can't believe how quickly Friday comes around, but here we are again looking for those happy moments in the past week. I am pleased to say that, although I am still coughing and sneezing, I do feel a lot better and have managed to get back to some of my usual routine.
We'll start with a 'blast from the past'. This weekend would have been the birthdays of my oldest sister and the younger of my two brothers. Sadly we have lost both of them: my sister five years ago and my brother 24 years ago. But that doesn't mean they have been forgotten. My brother's wife Pam, has just sent me these photos of their wedding.
She was just 19½ in these photos and now she is an active 85 year old, living independently and looking after her beautiful garden.
Her family are Burmese (from Myanmar as it is now called), so their wedding was a bit different. Two of my sisters and I were bridesmaids, along with Pam's sister and little brother. My sister Dorothy was born just before the war, and Jean and I just after it. I am the little one on the left. I had to smile at the great big ribbons in our hair and the severe bobbed hair cut. I was just five at the time, so I don't remember a lot about it but two things I do remember. Jean and I carried big board horse-shoes, painted gold I think. They were covered with chicken wishbones, also painted gold with a small blue bow on each that matched our dresses, and at the reception we had to hand one to each guest.
It was coronation year, and the second thing I remember is rushing home after the reception and seeing all the street parties. When we got home we were stripped of our bridesmaid dresses and quickly redressed in blue skirts with embroidered braces, and white blouses with red and blue flowers on their collar, ready to go to the street party in our road.
That's quite a lot for five and seven year old girls to cope with, but the memories have stayed, so I guess we enjoyed it.

So on to this week. On Tuesday I had more parcels to send to the UK and I was so impressed at the speed with which the last ones arrived, that I decided to go down to the main post office in Mojacar with these ones as well. It was a little overcast that day and there was a stiff breeze, but not enough to worry about the line of washing I pegged out before we left home. But when we got down to the coast it was very windy coming off the sea. In fact the sea was what you could call 'lively'. I love it like that as long as I am only watching it! I could stand for ages watching the layers of waves breaking, and listen to them crashing and sucking back on the shale.
It certainly blew the cobwebs away, as I tried to get a photo that did it justice. Not that I was very successful, but it was fun trying.
We parked on the edge of the sea, and as the wind was a bit chilly we soon set off to walk up to the post office. Right on the edge of the beach we saw this fascinating cactus.

Further along I spotted this big clump of yellow daisies growing between the stones, and then a plant very similar to vetch, that clung to the side of a rock.

It is amazing how they can withstand the heat of the summer, the strong winds and the very salty ground.
We soon posted the parcels, which incidentally arrived at their destinations in UK today, so excellent service again, and then we went for a coffee at a new bar that has just opened. It is at the back of the little shopping centre so it was protected from the sea breeze. It was actually really warm sitting on the sheltered patio, but looking up at the mountains behind the beach, the sky was getting dark, and I started to think about my washing.
I was lucky. The clouds soon blew away again and my washing was all dry when we got home.

We managed to do a very little bit of gardening this week. There was a narrow strip of fencing that needed repairing, and it looks much better now it is done. Looking into the green zone I noticed that old almond tree now has several groups of nuts on it. I like to see their furry coats, protecting them for a bit longer before they open.
I had to smile at this 'weed' that had managed to root itself just under the edge of the shed. It has virtually no soil, but still it managed to flower. It is a pretty little thing that can carry flowers that are pink, mauve and blue all at the same time. It grows everywhere, but I have been warned not to touch it at the grey hairy leaves can be an irritant.
Just beyond our back railing, growing in our little stretch of land sloping down into the green zone, there is a very pretty oleander with variegated leaves, and double pink flowers with splashes of white on their petals. It didn't get cut back last autumn so it has grown taller than usual, and as it has been a dry winter, the longest stems have fallen onto the railings and overhang the very narrow passage way between the railings and our benches. 
I was going to cut them back the other day but as I went to do it, I noticed another praying mantis nest attached to it. So today I cut all the other branches off and the one with the nest on it, I pulled behind the railings and tied it up along them, so it can stay there until the babies come in in the autumn.

I am in the throes of changing my bank for one in UK to one that allows dealing in multiple currencies, which seems more sensible in the current state of the country. So I have been waiting for my new card to arrive and on Wednesday it came. As is usual with such things, the envelope had printing on the inside to obscure what was on the letter. This is usually a green or blue pattern and I used to collect them for a form of craft called Iris folding. I haven't done that for a long time now, but this letter had a very different lining and here it is. Isn't it fun?

Today (I am writing this on Thursday afternoon as Friday is a busy day for me), was another special day in this area, known as Día de la Vieja (day of the old woman). It is a tradition stemming from many centuries ago when everyone was ruled by the monastery, and they were expected to strictly observe a fast throughout Lent. One sensible monk realised that the people could not carry out their usual work for the monastery for forty days without eating, so he decreed that on one Thursday in the middle of Lent, they should break their fast and eat well, so they could then fast again and continue to work until Easter. So this festival takes the form of a family meal, eaten in the open air. For many it is an elaborate picnic up at the area by the sports stadium, while other use the barbecues that are there. The connection with the old lady seems to have got lost in the mists of time, but they take the form of muñecas, (dolls) rather like a pinata. Some are made by the children at home and others are made in the workshops at the centre for people with disabilities, and sold in local shops. They are formed like an old lady, on a frame of a wooden cross, and their papier maché heads are filled with sweets and treats. These are taken to the picnic and left up against the wall until after the meal. Then the children use sticks and stones to break open their Vieja and retrieve the sweets. It seems a bit barbaric and is often referred to as "bash a granny day", but there is no malicious intent, and it is just a fun day for the children. We didn't take a picnic this year, but we did have a wander around the area so here are a few of the viejas I saw, patiently awaiting their fate.

The sports centre is at the top of the village set up on a hill, with the large picnic area beside the football pitch. At the end of it there is a children's playground, and you can walk out the other side of it onto a small flat area from where there is lovely view down onto the new pavilion and the summer swimming pool at one side, and on the other you can see the motorway with the village just on the other side of it, and in the distance the buildings of the town of Turre under the Cabrera mountains.

After the problems with my wool order I did buy some local yarn to start my new project, another blanket in another different technique. I do like to keep learning new ways to do this old craft, and I think I have just about cracked this one now. I have done a lot of unpicking, and re-working, but I think I have it now. The pattern is in six sections and I have now finished the first one so here it is.
In fact, as you can see here, I have made a good start on the next section which is two rows of zigzags. There are three repeats of the first pattern across the width. You can see it better here, even though it is at a funny angle. 
The two little pins in the bottom corner are marking which is the right side, and the one at the top is holding a stitch so I don't accidentally pull it undone. You work across a row with the black, pin it, and then work across the same way with the red. Then you turn it round and work across again in each colour. It seemed very strange at first.
I only manage about two rows each evening as it does require a lot of concentration. Most evenings Tango insists on sitting me while I work, and he was not too pleased one evening to find Luna had got there first. It is wonder I get any done at all!
And that's about it for this week. I will link up with Annie's Friday Smiles and Rocking your World, and launch into another busy week.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Rocking Your World 2019; Week 12

My how time flies. Here we are at Friday again; the end of another quiet week for me. I have been unable to shake off this virus that has plagued me for three weeks now, so I decided to take a week out from everything, and consequently I have hardly left the house, until I went out for some much needed supplies this morning. The gorgeous weather we have enjoyed for most of February and the start of March, took a downward turn this week, but to be fair, it has remained comfortably warm, and quite sunny for part of each day. The clouds were very black on Wednesday and yesterday, but the promised rain didn't come, so I was forced to get out the hose and water my dry pots.

The upside of a week at home is that some odd chores got done including fitting a new light in the hall. A good while ago I bought a fancy light bulb which has hung from the ceiling in the hall, but although it is very pretty when it is on, it looked a bit 'odd' in daylight hours, and it did not afford sufficient light at night. It was hanging from a very old fitting from a previous owner of the house, so we bought a new fitting and an open woven bamboo shade. It proved quite tricky to get it wired in but Chris managed it while I just held the ladder steady and handed the tools to him. Now we have a very brightly lit hall. I like the patterns the shade casts on the ceiling.

Unwilling to give up on my fancy bulb, I chose a small table lamp stand to put it on, and it now sits on the table in the hall, just outside the sitting room door, where it seems to give much more light, and it looks so pretty too.

My main task this week was to finish sorting out my craft room. Had I been in a better place, this would have been done in a week. As it is, I managed to do a little bit more each day, and now it is almost finished. Some people have asked to see it, but I couldn't get a picture of the whole room, so here it is in each of the four corners. First of all, my computer corner, where  I can sit by an open sunny window for most of the year, though mid-summer it is too hot and I need to let down the blinds. My two stacked printers are to the left, and of course, to my right is the resident fur baby, Arwen, who happily lays there for most of the day. By my reckoning she is at least 12 now, so she deserves a bit of peace.
My office chair is on casters so I can roll between it and my work desk on the opposite side. This is now much clearer so I have some space to craft again. The big pile in the left hand corner is still to be sorted out, so there will be even more space then.

Alongside my computer and printers I have my new tower of large boxes and a double unit of mixed boxes, now in a sensible order and all clearly labelled. I have an uplighter here, and the socket for my fire in winter and fan in summer. It is still the fire right now though I haven't used it for some time. On the gap at the end there is an untidy stack of zip up folders holding all my cutting dies. These will have a new home very soon.

And then on the last side, going on from my work desk, there is the other new tower of mixed boxes, and then two stacked book shelves. Again the boxes are all labelled so I should be able to find anything when I want it now. The boxes nearest to my desk hold all the things I use most often. All the ring-binders on the lower two shelves of the bookcase, hold rubber stamps, removed from their wood blocks, and mounted on EZ-Mount foam, and stored on laminated card, mostly catalogued by company and name. As with most things, fashions in stamping have changed, and many of these stamps haven't been used for a long time, so one day they too will be sorted out, and many will be weeded out and passed on or discarded, but for now, they can stay.
It was almost impossible to take a photo of the whole room, but sitting on the surface that runs under the window, between the computer and work desks, I took this one, which clearly shows that the far end of the room is a fitted wardrobe, which does still contain many of my clothes, along with Arwen's food, a ream of oversized A3+ paper, and a drawer for my rolls of vinyl!!  But it does also show that there is now a fair area of empty floor space. This is where a filing cabinet used to stand at right angles to the wall, effectively creating a very dark corner space, and making the other end very cramped. So it is all a huge improvement.
The only thing left to do now, is find a suitable time to drive over to IKEA where they sell a very tall, 12" square shelf unit, which will perfectly fit behind the door, (where there is a tatty old four box plastic unit now), which will hold those folders of cutting dies, and my stacks of A4 coloured card which are still in the garage. So now I need to make good use of it all and get crafting!

I haven't even ventured out of the house into the garden much this week, except to feed the dogs, but when I went out to do the watering, I was very pleased to see that our little mandarin tree has lots of blossom on it. It only has rather weak and spindly branches, but almost all are covered in white buds. Unfortunately this doesn't mean it will have lots of fruit on, as many will be blown away in the April/May winds, but it is now right outside the kitchen door so I will not forget to water and feed it. I'd love to see it come good as we have had it for three years now, and so far there has been no fruit from it at all.
On the other hand, our lemon tree gave us a bumper crop this year so I half expected it to rest this year, but it also has plenty of blossom on it.
The buds on this one tend to be purple, and you don't always notice them. It is quite usual to see blossom and new fruit forming on the same branch as much more mature fruit. 
Out at the front of the house I was also surprised to see a lenten lily in flower. It only seems like a few days ago that I was bemoaning to Chris that it had no buds again this year. I guess some people would say it is an Easter lily, but if it flowers at all, it flowers before Easter. It is probably a bit pot bound so I need to move it on when the flower is gone.
Around it my lovely blue squill are again in flower. I think this is so pretty. It doesn't last for long, but it is such a beautiful deep blue. I know it is a squill but can't get any closer to deciding whether it is the Peruvian or Sicilian variety. They are also known as Scillas and are part of the Asparagus family. That which we call a rose etc... I shall just enjoy it while it lasts.

I had a surprise yesterday. A full five weeks since it was dispatched, my wool order turned up! It was a bit difficult as I had accepted a refund for it by then, (and spent the money on my new speaker!), but it is easier to keep it than try and send it back to UK, so I have agreed to pay for it on pension day. As it happens I had ordered a new brand of yarn, really for my current project, that had been highly recommended and came out well in a comparison review with other similar brands, but I didn't actually like it when it came. At least, I liked it, but not for that project. But I always have a few things on the go, and I am sure I will find a better use for it. In fact I have something in mind already!

I apologise for not visiting everyone last week. This virus has turned my brain to cotton wool, and I spent very little time sitting at the computer. I have done all sorts of silly things from putting milk in the teapot, to calling the dogs round for their breakfast without remembering to let them out from their sleeping area that morning. And today I got to the supermarket, a 20 minute drive down the motorway, only to find I had left my bag, purse, cards etc on the hall table! It is a good thing I can laugh at myself isn't it? But it is a long time since I missed two consecutive weeks of church, and I don't intend to miss a third this Sunday, so I have one more day to get back on track. And I will make sure I also spend time visiting each of you my blog land friends.
So now I will link up with Rocking Your World on Virginia's blog, and Annie's Friday Smiles, and go and see who else has some positives to share this week.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Rocking Your World 2019; Week 11

Well already another week has gone and soon we will be a quarter of the way though the year. It has been a quiet week for me as I am still struggling with a wretched cough and now a sore throat as well, so I haven't wanted to do too much, but I did venture out with Chris for a hour on Saturday afternoon as it was the village carnival. This is a simple affair, and this year there were very few floats, but still plenty of folk put on their fancy costumes and joined the parade around the village. There is always a lovely happy atmosphere at this event, and lots of people turned out to see them set off from the plaza. They were led by the village band all dressed up for the occasion.
I will just show a random selection of the photos I have - some are mine and some taken from the 'official' ones posted by the Town Hall.
It is a real family affair and lots of parents dress up themselves and put their little ones in matching outfits.

In this one, my friend's baby had her first experience of carnival.
Here are some of the 'stranger' visions I saw.

As the procession passed by us, a friend stopped to pose for a photo.
Some esteemed gentlemen from our community who always go the extra mile to wear outrageous costumes. They enjoy themselves as much as the children do and you can't help smiling at them.

As for the rest of the week, well, my son had been away for the weekend and was very surprised to get a message from him Sunday night to say he found my parcel waiting for him when he got home! I only posted it on Thursday, so it must have sprouted wings!! He loves his new blanket and it is now adorning the back of a very dark settee which shows if off very well. It is where I had envisioned it going.
Yesterday my sister sent a message to say my other parcel has arrived. That was the heavy one that I sent by courier, so a week was pretty good for that too.
Unfortunately I was not so lucky with my wool order, which never did turn up. On Tuesday it was the required twenty-one days since dispatch, so I contacted the company again, and they immediately offered me a replacement order or a refund. As I had by then bought the yarn from elsewhere, I asked for a refund, and it was back in my account the same day. So I used the money to send for a blue-tooth speaker, primarily to use with my computer. I had a  pair of old, slightly scratchy, plug in speakers which weren't very satisfactory, so I had thrown them away. Then I bought a blue-tooth plug-in so I could use my little, fairly standard speaker which refused to cooperate with the sound card in my computer, and I ended up using my good head-phones instead. They were fine for listening to specific tracks etc, but not practical for full time use. Two years ago I bought a very good bluetooth speaker for Chris for Christmas, and that worked fine with my computer, so I decided to buy one the same, only as his is black, I chose a royal blue one so they don't get mixed up. I am very pleased with it. Now I can listen to music while I work, and talk on video calls to the family without using headphones.
Very, very slowly my craft room is getting sorted out. I haven't felt up to doing much, so I have just done one box at a time. I had lifted a big box out of the shelf unit to sort my ribbons into, and when I turned round, Arwen was in the gap, blinking owlishly at me, and looking very at home. I gave in and let her stay there and she was still in there the next morning, but I have claimed the space back for my box now.

Because my room is such a mess I have not been able to do much crafting, but I really wanted to make something yesterday so I looked out this file I bought from the Silhouette store a while ago. With St.Patrick's Day looming I thought it was a fitting project. I used a sheet of digi scrapbook paper and altered it to become rectangular instead of square, and printed it out to fit a new frame I had spotted in one of the cupboards I was sorting out. Then I played around with the tree and script, changing one word, and choosing three different colours of vinyl to cut it out on my Silhouette Cameo. The main image of the tree and some of the words are a darkish green, but not as dark as they look in the photo. The 'significant' words I cut from metallic green, and the rest from very dark brown. I may have to do it again one day as one line of writing should have been a little higher, and it annoys me that I did that, but for now I am quite happy with it.
Hopefully my room will be sorted by next week so I will have space to make other things.
In the meantime I will link up with Rocking Your World, and Annie's Friday Smiles, and then go to feed my zoo.

Friday, March 8, 2019

Rocking Your World 2019; Week 10

Hi everyone. Here we are at Friday again. This will be a short post as it has been a 'flat' week, but there are still things to reflect on and smile. Like, for example, these lovely freesias. Last week they were all in bud, but the sunshine has brought them all open. Such a lovely range of 'autumn colours' for pretty spring flowers, and they smell divine.

Yesterday I had two parcels to send to UK. Both were too big and one too heavy, to post at the little office in our village, so we drove over to Vera where there is a main Post Office for the lighter parcel, and a Mail Box company that acts as a collection point for some couriers, and a very pleasant lady there, helped me find the cheaper option for the heavy one, and did all the necessary labels for me, so hopefully both will find their way to their new homes by the end of next week. I felt it was a good mornings work.
As we walked through the centre of Vera, which is mainly pedestrianised, we crossed the plaza in front of the big church  and along the edge we saw two long beds just full of bright red geraniums. They were all in bloom together and made a gorgeous splash of colour on what is otherwise a fairly plain plaza.
It was lunch time when we got home so we went to a bar in the village for a drink and tapa. They were particularly nice tapas so between us we had four drinks and four tapas and the bill was 8€. Talk about value for money!
I usually buy my wool online from the same company, and their service is second to none, but my order for my next project has hit a snag. They wrote to me straight away and said they were one ball short of one of the yarns but expected more the following week, so I agreed to wait. But then, I received my dispatch note but the order did not arrive. I have written to them twice more but they say they cannot track an international package until 21 working days after the dispatch. It is not really their fault as they did dispatch the parcel on 11th February, but they can't even investigate it until next Tuesday. Then they will hopefully send a replacement order which will be at least another week before it gets here, so I decided I couldn't wait that long. I wanted to get started on another blanket and it won't be too long before it is too warm to work on a large project. So I went to a local Chinese 'todo' shop, (todo meaning everything), and bought wool. It is not quite as soft and nice as what I buy from UK, but for a blanket that is not so important. So I have done the first eight rows. There is not much to show but here it is.
As you can see I am working with two balls of wool together, going across with one, and then across again with the second working through the first row, and then turn around and work back with each of them in the same way. I am using a big hook so the 'fabric' is not too dense, so it is all a new experience for me. It is not a pattern for when I am watching TV. Every row is counting all the way and I have to mark off every little group of stitches as I work them so that I know where I am! It takes anything up to 45 minutes to work one row! The design comes in five sections so I will show it again when the first section is done.
On Tuesday it was my turn to lead our house group and we talked about Lent and some of the traditions that surround it, why  and how we observe it. It was interesting to hear other folk's views and everyone seemed to enjoy our discussion.
I had a phone call from Jonathan (son number four) this week to say he had found very reasonable flights from Manchester to Almeria so he and his wife will be here for a short break, five days, at the start of May, so that is something to look forward to.
I have been hit by my annual bout of hayfever as the mimosa, (acacia or wattle depending on where you live), and olives come into flower, and the long haired cats all start to moult. So I have been coughing and sneezing and the medicine always makes me feel dozy, so I spent most afternoons sitting on the patio with a book. It is ages since I read so much but it made a nice relaxing change. Unfortunately my cough has deepened into something a bit more, but hopefully it will clear again soon.
And now I just have some sky photos to share that I took on Wednesday evening. We had a day of horrendous wind that rattled the windows, tossed the trees around, and left the yard covered in debris. By tea time it had settled down but cloud had blown in and hidden the sun, though it was still warm. But just before sunset, the sun tried to break through giving this lovely view.
Suddenly the sun won, the clouds broke apart, and the sky was a mixture of deep blue, orange and yellow. It was beautiful.
The orange quickly turned to red and the clouds darkened, and few minutes later it was gone.
Meanwhile, as I turned just a few degrees to my right, the sky looked like this!
It never developed into anything more sinister and we are back to sunshine again now.
So time to link up with Rocking Your World on Virginia's blog, and Annie's Friday Smiles.