Friday, May 31, 2019

Rocking Your World 2019: Week 22

So, looking back across the past week, it has been a very pleasant one for me, and I'll start with a couple of photos that have made me smile.

First up, this one popped up on my Facebook page as a memory of last year. Our second son Mike was visiting, but whenever he sat on the lounger to relax, an animal climbed up to join him. I guess he is quite well padded! Our little campo cat Paco got there first, and made himself comfy, but Kim decided to join him. He still thinks he is a lap-dog. He is more like a fur blanket in the middle of summer, but he was not very pleased to be told to get down.

This one also turned up on facebook, and it gave me quite a start to see Chris and I on a photo on the Town Hall page.  This was taken on the day of the Ruta de Tiendas (the route of shops), which was an initiative to encourage folk to explore the little shops in our own village. We had just been talking to the couple who are the main focus of the photo, outside their Kitchen and Bathroom shop. They are the company who installed my new kitchen a year ago, and we are thinking about having our bathroom done by them soon.

And then there are these two taken this week, as our youngest son Ben marched with the Railway group of his co-workers, in Birmingham Pride parade.

Ben is the one in the grey shorts. He has worked for West Midlands Trains for 16 years now, and is very happy there. He has worked his way through the ranks, and I am so pleased that he has been able to lead his chosen lifestyle with no fear of discrimination or bias against him. They are a colourful bunch anyway.

And now for my week. Summer has arrived and it is getting quite warm. I try to get my work done in the morning so I can relax in the afternoon, but it is not often with my crochet now as it is too warm on my lap. I can still do a row or two in the evenings, but I think the fan will have to come out soon.

We went over to the school to cast our votes in the local election on Sunday morning. There was an air of excitement and quite a crowd of folk just standing around chatting. It is the first time in many years that there has been any real opposition against our Mayor Maria. Well the 'unthinkable' happened and she was deposed, and Fran is now our new Mayor with a considerable majority. We don't think it will make a huge difference to the way the village is run, but we will have to wait and see whether he does a good job.

I had a busy day on Tuesday as it was my turn to host our house group. My friend Margie led a very interesting discussion on the book of Revalations which has always been a bit of a mystery to me. After that my friend Chris stayed to have a bit of lunch here, and then we went over to Albox for an extra choir practice just with the altos. We have a concert coming up in a couple of weeks.
By the time I got back, my Chris knew I wouldn't want to cook a dinner and neither of us were very hungry, so he suggested we went somewhere for a few tapas. We decided on Garrucha. There is a good wide, marble promenade there which is popular for evening strollers.
Garrucha has a good beach, and at the end it curves round to the new marina and docks. We were in the shadow of the tall buildings across the road from us, but the sun was still shining round on the port.
We found a bar that was new to us, and had some generous tapas and drinks for 'silly money', - two big tapas each, two beers for Chris and two martinis plus mixers for me and the bill was 8€. You can't go wrong for that really. Then we walked round to the marina and I bought us both a frozen yoghurt icecream. I chose strawberry and white chocolate and we watched as the young man put a few fresh strawberries on a freezer plate and poured over some thin yoghurt. (the photos aren't very good because there reflections in the glass).
He squashed the fruit and added melted white chocolate, and with a pair of spatulas he soon had it all mixed together and spread over the plate.
Then he scraped it off into curls and piled them in a cup. Chris had banana added to his and darker chocolate.
We found a bench to sit and eat them and they were delicious.
We watched the big barge loading up and leaving the port. There is a constant stream of them coming and going to the port, and a constant convoy of lorries take the gravel there to load onto them.
The marina was full that night and I like to read all the names on the boats. It passed a very pleasant evening, and made a change for us.

On Wednesday I  went to my sewing group as usual and then I drove back down to Mojacar as I wanted to post a birthday card at the post office there. It is getting busy with holiday folk now, and I had to drive along the front a bit to find a parking space. I guess it did me good to have to walk back to the post office anyway. It was lovely down there. There was just enough breeze to make rows of white breakers splashing on the rocks, but not windy enough to make it too rough. The sky was blue so the sea was too. I always marvel at the plants that survive there. I know cacti are used to growing in the sand, but they only have very salty water, which they have obviously adapted to.
I took a second picture because Garrucha is the next beach along, and I spotted another of the barges leaving the port. I believe there is another one coming in behind it too.

And now, much closer to home, here is a beautiful jacaranda tree in full bloom at the end of our road. They are such a beautiful colour, and always have their flowers before the leaves appear.
When I zoom out, you can see there is a whole row of these trees along the slip road that runs along the front of the village. It is like a haze of blue when they first come out. They have been flowering for a couple of weeks now and soon the floor under them will be carpeted with blue petals, and then pretty fern-like leaves will open up in their place.

Finally, a new photo posted by our son Michael today. He had met up with two of his brothers, Jim on the right from Wolverhampton, and Jonathan in the centre from Manchester, and Mike's young son Fin, all to watch their team Arsenal in  the Europa League final on Wednesday night. My whole family have faithfully followed the same team all their lives, and although they lost on the night, they were still happy to have a brotherly meet up.
Mike's caption on the photo was "I've had 15 addresses, 5 serious girlfriends plus 2 wives, 2 schools, run 2 pubs, had 12 jobs and god knows how many paper rounds; But I've only ever had ONE club and ONE family"
And with that I will link up with Annie's Friday Smiles and Rocking Your World.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Rocking Your World 2019; Week 21

Well first of all, my apologies for not visiting anyone last week - not until last night anyway. I managed to comment on the hostesses of the two blogs I link up with, but completely forgot to return to visit everyone else. I will make sure I do better this week.

It has been a very quiet week except for one thing. On Sunday it is our local elections, and they are quite important. We have three or four parties to chose from and candidates are elected from them according to how many votes each party gets. And the leader of the one with the most votes becomes the next mayor. This is the one election that 'foreign' residents can vote in, so we will be going to the polling station early on Sunday morning before I go to church. This is the main plaza, with banners flapping in the breeze, and lovely flowers planted all around the platform area. You can just see two beautiful blue jacaranda trees in flower in the background.

They have a good system here, where no-one is allowed to canvass until three weeks before the election. Then, suddenly there are banners and posters on every lamp-posts, and loud speaker vans drive around the streets broadcasting their main aims. This week we have had visitors from each party at our door. We have been here long enough now to know the candidates, and they mostly brought us their manifesto in English. Yesterday they all had a big push and I could hear the main candidates addressing the crowd on the plaza.

This picture was taken a couple of weeks ago when there was a small parade including the village band, on the streets. The poster on the lamp-post is an interesting one. Maria has been our lady mayor for over twenty years and she stands for the PSOE  which is a socialist party. Fran, (pictured on the poster) has worked for her at the Town Hall ever since we came here, but this year he has changed his allegiance to the Ciudadanos  party, and is standing against her. Ciudadanos, meaning Citizens,  is a relatively new party that started in Catalunya, and leans slightly more to the right of PSOE, so the outcome on Sunday should be quite interesting.
However I am not greatly involved with politics, so I will leave it there, and let you know what happens next week.
Meanwhile here are two nice flower photos to brighten my post. The first is a lovely climbing rose that blooms each year on the corner of a house near us. The flowers are tiny and they bloom in huge numbers all at the same time. Every year I think how pretty it is.  

The second is the oleander that grows on the other side of our back railings, just outside my craft room window. It has variegated leaves and a double, double flower that is like a little rose or a camelia. It is covered in flowers already this year.

I had  a lovely afternoon on Wednesday. Unfortunately my English friends are spread over a huge area, so we don't have many opportunities to just meet up for a coffee and a chat. So one of our group offered her home for an English tea-party this week. There was quite a gang of us turned up. The sun shone without being hot enough to 'cook' us, so we sat in groups around her garden, enjoying copious pots of tea, cakes and scones, and dainty sandwiches. Just a few were brave enough to go in the pool while the rest of us looked on, but the water is still quite chilly. We had a lovely natter, and moved on to different groups so we got to chat to lots of folk. It was enjoyed by everyone and we are definitely going to organise something similar again. Unfortunately we were too busy talking to take any photos this time.
I was looking at the oleander through my window last night when I noticed two planes leaving vapour trails in the sky. I went out and watched them as they gradually broke up and melted into the clouds. It was so peaceful out there.

The only sound was the little birds making their way to a resting place for the night. Several chose the wires around a telegraph pole across the green zone, and I had to smile at them. They were constantly swapping places with one another, then settling down again, only to fly off somewhere else. Then back they came again.

A few weeks ago I showed you the beginning of my next crochet project - a blanket for our son Jonathan and his wife, Ella. Progress has been slow because my arthritic hand has been particularly painful this spring, but I try to do a couple of rows each night. This is all I am going to show you of it for now. I'll wait for the big reveal when it is finished but the days are getting much warmer, and I am thinking it will have to go away soon and be finished in the autumn.
Of course, Jonathan and Ella saw it when they were here last week and they loved it, so that is a good incentive to keep working on it while I can.
In the meantime here is a little look at another project I am working on as well. I wanted something more simple and more portable to take to my sewing group on Wednesdays, and also something smaller and lighter for me to handle when I can't manage the big blanket, so I started making some squares. The pattern is again for a large blanket but it is made of 53 different squares and rectangles, with two each of 26 designs, and one large one for the centre, and they are all in the same locking filet stitch I am working for the big blanket. I like the technique and it makes an almost double fabric so it is very warm and cosy for a blanket. I have about six bright colours and dark navy for the contrast on them all. Here are the first two finished pieces with one repeat half made.
They are nice little pieces of work , and quite straightforward after all my practice on the other one, so I should be able to keep working on them for a while yet.
And finally here are two photos of a rare stunning sunset that I spotted through the kitchen window one evening. The sky has been too clear most days for photos like this. Once it starts to get dark here, the light goes very quickly. We don't have twilight like we did in UK. It's either light or dark and you have to be quick to catch the little window between the two.

I prepared this post last night but I just had to come back and add one more photo. I spotted this little gecko as I returned from closing the gate on the dogs after their breakfast. He has chosen to rest on the back railings right by a branch of oleander which is really dead, but it escaped my shears when I was tidying up the bush, because it has another praying mantis nest on it. So I just tied it to the fence until the babies emerge and then I will prune it back. I like the geckos. They eat a lot of unwanted bugs, and just look at those wise eyes, and that dear little hand!

So now I will link up with Annie's Friday Smiles and Rocking Your World, and I really will try to visit everyone before the weekend is over.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Rocking Your World 2019: Week 20

Well it has been a busy week here as we collected our son Jonathan and his wife Ella from the airport on Sunday, and took them back last night. It was a short break so we spent as much time with them as possible. 
Unfortunately I did have to go out on Monday morning at it was my first PCC meeting since being elected to the church council, but it was an interesting meeting, and I knew Jon and Ella wanted to do a bit of exploring on their own, so they went out too, and then we all spent a late afternoon/evening together.
They were very lucky with the weather, and both looked sun-kissed after the first day. Jonathan is fair skinned and I had to be very careful with him at the beach etc when he was little, but they both used plenty of sun cream for the rest of the week, and went home with a healthy'glow'.
They spent a lot of their time here, sitting in the fly free porch, or out by the pool when the shade caught up with us in there. Jonathan had one dip, but the water is still on the cool side. We had some leisurely meals and a fair few bottles of wine and beers - at least the men folk did. Neither Ella nor I are drinkers, and we tended to stick to tea and water most of the time. It was lovely to be warm enough sitting outside until bedtime, with a couple of wall lights and a big candle to light our way. Jonathan had plenty to share with us about the recent tour he did with his newest band, and the songs they are booked to record very soon. He is a drummer in a heavy metal band - actually he is involved with five bands, but this is the one that he favours right now. They live in Manchester so they get quite a few opportunities for gigs. Ella is an occupational therapist, so most of her work is confidential, but she shared her hopes for the future.

We were too busy chatting to think about taking photos, but I did like this one of Ella. She just loves all the animals, especially the dogs, and she would never move one off a chair in order to sit on it herself, so here she is perching on the footrest of a lounger, while Paco lays out on the seat!
On Wednesday night we all went for a lovely meal down on Mojacar Playa. There are plenty of people around now, but it isn't yet crowded with summer visitors. Ella is a vegetarian and that just isn't a part of Spanish culture, so we are short on choices of places to go, but that morning I dropped them on the beach, and worked my way along the street, checking the menus outside each eatery, and eventually I found somewhere that actually offered a choice of veggie dishes rather than the one obligatory pasta dish that is the norm. And we all had a lovely meal while the sun set behind us and the sky we could see, gradually turned a lovely pastel shade of pink and purple, before turning dark.
Yesterday was their last day, but they didn't need to be at Almeria airport until 7.00pm, so we decided to leave early and stop off at Nijar Cactus Garden. I am so glad we did. It was really lovely there, with extensive grounds planted with a wide range of cacti and trees, and of course, an area at the end where you could buy them. Here are just a few of the photos I took.
I called Chris and Jon to turn round just as they reached a large prickly plant...
... and at the same time, Ella was on the lower path, busy taking photos too.
The views were amazing with a range of mountains all around us standing out against a deep blue sky.
In the centre of the garden there was a small amphitheatre and I know the garden has been used as a venue for concerts, so I guess that's where they are held.
Much of the land was covered with a succulent that was a mass of small lilac daisies. It was like a carpet and looked so pretty. This area was particularly dense and it smelled a bit like almond essence.
This tree caught my eye. It was covered in big seed pods that had lots of white 'fluff' about to burst out. I asked the man in charge what it was and he said it was a kapok tree. I remember when soft toys and cushions were stuffed with kapok, before polyester fibres were so readily available.
A few more plants that I liked...

As we got to the end of our walk we came to a round raised bed with a very big cactus 'tree' in the centre.
It was rather splendid so we tried to all get into a selfie together in front of it. It doesn't do anyone any favours, (especially me), but at least we got a photo of us all together.
Of course we stopped to peruse the rows of plants on sale and came away with a few small ones. I bought one pot of the little lilac ground cover succulent. I was considering a second one, but the man told me one would cover a square metre of ground in a year, so I thought that was enough for now.
We bought two others that were rather special. This one has a long Latin name but is generally known as the dessert rose. This morning I went to the garden centre and bought a pretty hanging pot to plant it in.
This one has the fancy name Tilansia Cyanea, but is sometimes referred to as the Pink Quill plant. It is part of the family of 'Air plants', that need very little, if any, soil, but it is planted in a little soil and the care instructions apparently need to be followed quite carefully to keep it going. But it is such a striking colour, and something a bit different for the garden.
After that we continued to the airport and still had enough time to sit and have a drink with the youngsters before seeing them go through to their flight.
I have little other news this week, and I haven't had time to sort though the last section of my Ronda photos. But I will try to get them done and up in a post in the next few days, and I'll give a link to it next week.
So now I will leave you with another lovely smiley photo of our 7 year old great-grandson Isaac. It is the end of the season for the three football clubs he trains with, and he was awarded the "Best boy on the Block" trophy. He looks so very pleased with it.
Now its over to A Stitch in time and Celtic House to link up with Annie's Friday Smiles and Rocking Your World. Have a lovely week everyone.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Rocking Your World 2019: Week 19

I had an interesting chat with a worker in our "Supermarkets overseas" shop (aka Iceland but with a lot of Waitrose items on its shelves). I was asking him why I was holding two items from the fresh produce shelf with identical bar codes, but one was quite reduced and one was not. He pointed to a number on each one, 1803 on one and 1806 on the other, and told me the 18 signified the number week of the year, and the other the day in that week, so my cooking apples were week 18, the 3rd which were reduced, and 6th which weren't. Apart from the fact that I find this a very unfair way to show age - best before date -  of an item as few customers would understand it, I was wanting to tell him that I am quite sure this is week 19 of the year!! However, I was keen to finish my shopping so I let it pass in the end. I might add that I  bought both sets of apples to make a pie for my visitors arriving on Sunday!
 It may be the end of week 19, but I have very little news. The week has passed with my getting all the bed lined and towels washed and dried from last week's visitor, and making the spare bed room ready for the ones arriving this week. I can't think of much else I have done, so I must have spent a lot of time pottering around doing very little! But how lucky am I to be able to have weeks like that sometimes?

However, here, as promised are some photos of our short break in the beautiful Ronda.

Ronda is most famous for its beautiful bridges. The town is set high up on the edge of a deep gorge with two bridges that were originally the only access into it. The 'Old bridge' was replaced by 'The bridge of Ronda' and its construction was completed in 1793. This is the one we could see from our hotel room balcony, and it is used to decorate the many tourist gifts that fill the shops.(Yes I succumbed and bought a fridge magnet and a cheese board with it on!). It divides the main town from the old Town which is the area we were interested in exploring. Here is the bridge as seen from both sides, and the deep gorge below.

From our room we could watch the constant stream of people crossing and recrossing the bridge. The first thing on the other side was this long line of shady arches, each one home to a small shop. When we opened the window on our first morning I was struck by the deep shadows cast by each of these arches.

All along the edge of the gorge there was a pathway with plenty of viewing platforms so you could stand an admire the view stretching across green plains to the distant mountains.

The main one was called Paseo Ernest Hemmingway, and then it became Paseo Orson Welles, and we liked to walk along this in the evenings before finding a restaurant for our dinner. We stopped at this parador because I liked the pergola on it. We stood on the little viewing platform and someone offered to take a photo of us together, which was much better than my shakey selfies.

A bit further along, we sat under a big tree and watched the little birds that were busy collecting bugs and seeds from the top of the grassy slopes. Chris patiently waited while I tried to get a picture of one. The mechanism on my camera makes a noise and it kept frightening them off just as I had focused on them. Eventually I did manage to get this one.
Then we sat a bit longer and watched the sun setting over the mountains.

On our first full day, armed with a good guide book that a friend lent to me, we crossed the bridge into the old town and started to explore. The roads were narrow and steep with sloping bends, and everywhere was big rounded cobble stones which made walking quite difficult.
Our first stop was at the Church of Our Lady of the Incarnation, also know as Santa Maria. It had lovely arches and balconies along the front and a renaissance belfry. At the time we only admired it from outside, but later I went back to it and did go inside, but more about that next week.
We then followed some steep roads that led down to the Iglesia Espiritu Santo. This is it taken from the ramparts nearby.
In the centre of the wall you can see the tall bell tower. From the courtyard of the church we looked up to wave at some children who had climbed up it to a small viewing platform.
Of course, I wanted to go up there too, so we climbed a very narrow winding spiral staircase, praying we wouldn't meet too many people coming the other way. And we managed to arrive at the top just as the bell struck the half hour! Had we been thirty minutes later it would have struck twelve times for mid-day and I think we might not have stayed to admire the view!
I have to say it was easier going up than coming down. I am a compulsive counter, and can nearly always tell you how many steps there were at the top of a stairway, so I know there were 65 steps up this tower. Chris managed to come down quite well, but I think I did more of a crab walk sideways down, but we made it in one piece.

I am not a huge fan of the very ornate altar pieces and icons in these ancient churches, but I have to admire the work that went into making them, and there was some very interesting art work and beautiful domed ceilings too.

We moved on to Moondragon Palace which now houses the town museum. There were some very old painted domes, and this construction showing how the first settlers would have lived.
This is just one of the beautifully carved wooden doors that we saw.
The next building was the house of Saint John Bosco, now known mainly for its gardens. They are built around the central pond with its wide tiled surround. In the centre are four giant stone frogs spouting water from their mouths.

Many of the walls were beautifully tiled, and there were beds of roses in gold and red, all in full bloom.

Again the house was perched on the egde of the gorge so the views over the back railings were lovely. There was a small strategically placed platform from where the photos of the back of the main bridge could be taken.

This man was sitting in the garden enjoying the sun, and painstakingly piecing together scraps of pottery that he said were from the neolithic age.
I think we have seen enough of Ronda for this week. Next week I will show you what we saw on our second day. But before I go I will share these pretty flowers that grew everywhere. They are I think a type of snapdragon, but they were almost as big as the antirrhinums we grow in the garden in UK. They were always pink and they sprouted from crevasses in rocks, and all along the roadside. They all seemed to be flowering together and they were so pretty.

To leave you on a lighter note, here is a meme a friend sent to me this week. It is a bit unkind to all those lovely dads out there, but it still make me chuckle. 
Now I will link up with Annie's Friday Smiles and Rocking Your World, and I'll see you next week with Ronda part 2.