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 37ยบ 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.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Rocking Your World 2019; Week 28

We continue to swelter in the summer heat so I do not have the energy to do very much, but I do try to achieve something each day. I am extremely grateful for the air-conditioning in my car, and also for the unit in the bedroom. We don't sleep with it on as it dries out your eyes, hair and skin, but it does a grand job of cooling the room right down the hour before we go to bed, which makes it so much easier to fall asleep.
It has been a wee bit overcast some days but that doesn't stop the temperature  rising, and wise folk stay in the shade especially in the afternoons.

Last Friday night was our 'Open rehearsal' night at choir and as expected the audience was smaller than usual, but those that did come really enjoyed it, and we enjoyed singing for it, and that is what really matters.
The photos are poor because we had  big picture windows behind us and the sun was still up high enough to make photos difficult. Hubby did try to get one of me singing while the ladies only were doing a number. You can probably see how hot I am.
We have now finished until September when we will  be back, raring to learn some new Christmas music. That does mean I am not as pushed for time as I usually am on a Friday.

After a rather 'muggy' weekend, Monday dawned bright and clear so we drove down to Mojacar. There is a good pet shop there where I can buy the special dietary food two of the cats need, as well as bulk sacks of ordinary cat and dog food, so I made the most of a strong man to do the carrying and stocked up for at least a month for the Perry Zoo. None of the animals eat as much in the heat, but sometimes they come in and make up for it at bedtime.
We went on to the main post office in Mojacar as I had a few birthday cards to post, and then on to a garden centre further along the beach, which is the only place I can buy a liquid fertilizer for our three citrus trees.
All the tasks completed we went to a lovely little bar on the sea front for a drink. We sat up under the shady trees but there was a lovely view of the beach though the gateway in front of us. I must say it did look very inviting, but I can't sit on a sunny beach these days, especially when I have no beach-wear, sun lotion etc with me.
So we moved on again stopping at the port end of Garrucha where we had tapas and drinks for lunch and then drove home to cool off in the pool.

Yesterday evening I went to our back railings to look out over the green zone which is decidedly not green right now.
The olive trees have been neglected and are taller than they are usually allowed to grow, but even the orange trees have lost many of their leaves, and I am not sure the pomegranate has survived this year either.
There was a heat haze over everything making the mountains look misty. Some of the haze is caused by dust, and our outside furniture and the cars are always dusty.
The temperature has reached the right height for these little chaps to start singing. It's actually more like screaming. Just one of them can make an ear-piercing electric whine, and when they all join in they sound amazing. They are of course, cicadas.
Some people are surprised, expecting them to be more like crickets, but they have a quite different mechanism for making their sound. They are quite hard to spot as they stop singing whenever anyone or anything comes near them, but sometimes in the evening they will rest on our fly screen, or the warm bricks of the walls. By late evening they fall silent and almost immediately the night crickets start chirruping instead. But cicadas are definitely the sound of the summer out here.

They are not the only sounds we will be hearing this week as tonight is the start of the village fiesta. Yesterday this was the scene from our back railings. 
The long dark construction is the bumper cars, and to the right of this, if you look closely, about half way down the right side, you can see a frog with a colourful crown, just peeping over the slanting roof. This is the centre of the biggest ride in the fairground. It spins round and goes up really high amid clouds of coloured smoke. Not for me at all, but the youngsters love it. After that there is a dragon roller coaster. The fair gives me nightmares as it is set up on slim metal legs that rest on wooden blocks. I don't think they would pass health and safety checks in UK but you don't hear of any accidents on them. There are also kiddies attractions, bouncy castles, trampolines and ball parks, all around a plaza of tables and chairs, served by a temporary bar all along the wall. More bars surround the main plaza, and there, they erect  a big stage where there will be dancing and music throughout the five days of fiesta. Each day the music goes on until around 7.30 the next morning so we go over and enjoy it for a while, and then shut the windows and try to sleep through it! Roll on Wednesday when it will be quiet again!

Most afternoons I have opted to stay indoors with the fan on, and my own little personal air condition cube by my chair, and if I don't fall asleep I do manage a little crochet. I am making the small squares ready for my next blanket, as they are easy to hold and don't put any hot drapes on my lap as I work. These are the ones I have made so far.
There are 26 different designs and you make two of each. Last night I finished the second long purple one. They are colourful and fun, and I think they will make a bright, cheerful blanket. There will be some in red, orange and turquoise as well, and they all have the dark navy contrast, and will be joined with it too. They are nice little bits of work for the summer and there is no urgency to get it done, so I can just do a few rows when I feel like it. I probably won't be doing much next week as our son Ben and his partner Dave arrive tomorrow night. I have warned them about the fiesta so they know what to expect.

You will gather from the above that Ben is gay, so I was happy to see our Town Hall in Los Gallardos acknowledging gay pride month by hanging a rainbow flag from their balcony. The Spanish word for Pride is orgullo (or-goo-yo), and this month is gay pride month and it is celebrated with parades in many of the towns around here, just as it is in UK.
And on the same subject I am going to end with something that my friend shared on facebook today. I hope it doesn't offend anyone. It really made me chuckle.
And on that note I will link up with Annie's Friday Smiles, and Rocking Your World. Next Friday will be the last day for Ben and Dave, but I will try to get some sort of post written.

Friday, July 5, 2019

Rocking Your World 2019; Week 27

Last week I started my post with a photo of my great-grandson Alfie with his football trophy. Well I just couldn't resist starting with another one today. Here he is all ready for his induction day at primary school.

Next to him is his brother Isaac on his induction day back in 2015. They are wearing the same pair of shorts! Good old M&S. I understand, as I too had a family of all boys and was able to pass down the clothes. (At least until the youngest outgrew his older brother!) Today's fabrics are so hard wearing, even for little boys in the playground!
And here is another smiler, big brother Isaac, now almost 8, who came third in a 'Voice' competition. He said/sang his own rap in front of the whole school, staff and visitors. So much confidence.
These two had a big surprise this week when Mum and Dad fetched them from school and took them to their new house! They had managed to keep it a secret while all the negotiations were going on. They now have separate bedrooms, a bigger garden to play in, and a nice playpark  just a few doors down the road, so I am sure they will enjoy settling in over the summer holidays.

And now for my week which started last Friday night at a fundraiser for my church. It was a "Curry and Country" evening. There were around 32 people there and when we arrived we sat around two long tables on a semi covered patio. It had a roof and the sides were netted which we were happy about as the night midges can be a nuisance. We were served with an excellent chicken curry followed by trifle or fruit salad.
Our hostess was Kath Clayton, who is our church pianist. While we were waiting for our meal to be served, and again after we had eaten, her husband John played his guitar and sang some well-known favourites. They were well know to us anyway, as Chris and I used to listen to a lot of country and folk music back in the day... A friend of John's, Billy Curtis, who plays and sings for a living, also came along to sing with John, and they were very entertaining. It was a good evening and raised 400€ for our church funds.

This is our thermometer which lives outside on a wall of our porch which never gets direct sunlight. We always think it gives a more accurate reading of the temperature than the very exposed ones on most farmacias (Chemist shops). This was ours read just as the sun was going down. It had been higher in the day and must have been several degrees more outside the porch even at that time. I am finding it a bit harder to cope with this year, but we don't complain as we are both in the enviable position of not having to do anything unless we want to. I have had several dips in the pool, and the water is just perfect now, but apart from shopping, hanging washing out etc, I spend much of my time indoors during the day. But I have now put our big, industrial strength fan out on the porch, and with that on, I have managed to sit out some afternoons and evenings.
The rest of my post features local 'wildlife' so skip it if you want to. But you know me by now. All the little creepy crawlies fascinate me. So we will start with these little creatures. I went out to water the front yard on Monday night, ending up at the bird of paradise tree, and I couldn't believe how many bugs etc I found on it. Most of them are harmless and I try to just let them be, but I do like to know what they are. I belong to a Facebook group called Wild life in Southern Spain, and there are some very knowledgeable folk on there who help us to identify our finds. I loved all these colourful little beetles, especially the green one with a red fringe and patch on its back. It later turned out they all are nymphs of the shield bug (bottom right picture), in various stages of development and moulting. What a shame they will all end up plain green!
The tree is part of the bean family, and it has long pods of seeds. One of these was covered in tiny flies with red bodies, and then I found one of the spotted beetles feasting on one of them. But I soon found the little flies were feasting on me, and decided it was time to move indoors.
I also found the long green fellow on the right and at first I thought it was a praying mantis. Now I now it is a type of cricket, probably a bush cricket, also know as a Katydid. At night we hear the crickets take over the singing when the cicadas go quiet. Today I went back out to our tree and the cricket was still there, but I did also find a praying mantis (left hand photo).

I also found this almost white spider. There is something far less menacing about a spider that is white rather than black.  It was moving all over the place but I soon realised it was catching bees and paralising them in its web for dinner later.  I was a bit sad to see this as we need our bees, but for now I have left them to do what nature designed them for.

And finally I found a caterpillar. It was already quite fat and had its head well and truly buried in the bud of my tree. Again I left it to enjoy its meal. The tree has masses of flowers on it so we can spare a few. I hope to find out what it will turn into later.

And now for something more amusing. Chris goes out into the yard each morning and cleans up around the pool, and while I popped to the shops this morning, he discovered this little fellow hitching a ride on a foam 'noodle'. It looked a bit stranded out in the centre of the pool, and I don't think they can swim, so he encouraged the noodle to drift to the side and lifted it out so the little gheko cold climb off. I'm not sure how grateful he was as it looks as though he is considering jumping back into the water. I don't think he is just after a drink as we have numerous bowls of water around the yards that are always kept topped up for our cats and dogs, and he could always drink at those. Maybe he was just hoping to cool down a bit.
Now I must away and prepare for our final choir appearance before the summer break. It is not quite a concert. We are calling it an open rehearsal, to which we invite friends and family. I am not sure how many will turn up on such a hot evening, but I am sure our 'regulars' will be there.
So I will get linked up to Annie's Friday Smiles, and Rocking Your World, and if I haven't melted away completely, I will be back again next week.