Friday, November 29, 2019

Rocking Your World 2019: Week 48

Not much of a post this week folks. It has been a very quiet week here. The virus is proving hard to shake and I have little energy. What I have is used up coughing! Poor Chris is much the same. He started coughing before I did, but did not have the really bad days I had last week. But he too is finding it hard to shake the cough. But one of the blessings of being retired is that, if you don't feel like doing anything much, then you can curl up in your favourite chair and recouperate in your own time, so that is what we have done.
I did venture out to choir practice on Wednesday, but had to listen more than I sang. With only a couple of rehearsals left before our concert I thought I ought to be there. 
Yesterday we went together to do the monthly food shop. We were glad to get back home, but at least it is done.
Tonight is the last practice before our concert for my other choir, so I will be going to that too. We are to run through the whole programme, so it is an important one.
We have had bad news and good news this week. Two good friends have suffered major strokes, and another is in hospital with a serious chest infection. It is a part of living in a mainly retired, non-Spanish community, that your friends start to fail, but it is sad when it hits so many at the same time. Fortunately we have a good health service here, and for now at least, we have easy access to it, so they are all being well cared for.
The good news is that son number two, Michael, wrote to say he and his lovely partner Lucy are coming to spend two days with us immediately before Christmas. They each share custody of their children from previous marriages, but just occasionally they get a few days when it is just the two of them, enabling them to go off on one of their adventures. So it is lovely that they have decided to spend this time popping over to wish us Happy Christmas. 
And now our eldest son (Father Jim) and his wife Jo, have asked to come out to celebrate Three Kings, or Epiphany with us at the start of January. It is a long time since they were here, but with their three children all away at University, they are taking the opportunity to come. Jim has always wanted to find out more about how the festival is celebrated here, and they do it so well in our village. So that is lots to look forward to.
Now to get the house sorted out after a fortnight of neglect, ready for me to get the decorations out.

So I will leave you with my only photos for this week, which are of a very interesting sunset. It started off with just a nice patch of light low down on the horizon. Then plumes of clouds formed in lovely shapes which picked up the colours of the setting sun. I am sure you will like them as much as I do.

And now I will link up with Annie's Friday Smiles and Rocking Your World, and maybe I will have more photos for next week. 

Friday, November 22, 2019

Rocking Your World 2019: Week 47

There is not much to report this Friday as I have spent the best part of the week wrapped up in a blanket in front of the fire, having succumbed to the rather brutal virus that is doing the rounds here. I have to say I don't remember feeling this bad for a very long time. But I am hoping the worst has passed now and I will soon be on the mend.

But I still have some lovely photos to share, and the first one is my little mandarin tree. It was covered in blossom in late spring, but like most of the citrus trees, much of their flowers are lost in the high winds of March and April. I didn't actually think any had survived, but gradually I saw a few fruit forming and now they are turning orange , they can be plainly seen. I think it has fourteen fruit on it which I am delighted with as it is only a baby tree, and has never had any fruit on it so far. As soon as I am up on my feet again, I am looking forward to picking them.

Now to the main event as it were, my Advent Angels Project. Over the last month or two I have invited members of our three congregations to knit, crochet, or otherwise craft, small angels. The idea is to put each one into a cellophane bag together with a Christmas greeting, and information about all the services in the three churches in our Chaplaincy. I know I have told you most of that before, but here is the good bit, when I asked them all to be handed in last weekend, I ended up with a magnificent collection of 400 angels! isn't that a brilliant response? And considering we only average around thirty in each congregation, it is an awesome achievement.

There were a large number crafted from paper and card...
Some cute and colourful ones in felt, fabric and ribbon...
And a good number that were knitted or crocheted. It was good to see a few ethnic angels in the collection.
Here is a group, just a small selection to show them in more detail.
So, on Tuesday morning a group of friends met at my house to get them all bagged up ready to distribute. (By the end of the morning I knew I was 'going down' with something, so I hope I didn't repay their kindness by giving them the virus too!).
My first estimate was that I would get around 200 angels so I had sent for  pack of 200 small bags. But when I realised we were going past that number, I ordered a further 200 slightly larger ones. We divided the angels into two sets by size and I worked with three others to get the small ones done, while the other three worked with the larger ones, and within a couple of hours, they were all done!
We all enjoyed chatting and looking at the variety of work involved in making some of them.
And one last picture to share on this theme, at the bottom of the box I found two baby angels. how cute are they!
Fortunately my friends are used to my cats wandering in and out when they are there, and as soon as we emptied one box, Charlie jumped in. He sat there with our feet all around him, quite unconcerned. We did offer him his own angel but he wasn't interested.

What is it with cats and boxes? I had dozed off that afternoon and when I woke up, Tango had commandeered another box and with that grumpy face, I think he was just challenging me to make him get out. But I left him there and he curled up in it and had a snooze. They seem able to fit into the smallest spaces.

And that's it for this week. On Sunday the angels will be blessed in the three churches and given to the congregation to leave in random places around their communities, such as supermarket shelves, buses, bars and park benches, for folk to find and take home to enjoy. And hopefully some who find them, will even join us at one of our services. I am gutted that I will have to miss this last stage of my project, but I am not fit for public gatherings yet, but I am hoping someone will take some photos for me to share next week.
Until then, I will link up with Annie's Friday Smiles and Rocking your World.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Rocking Your World 2019: Week 46

Hi everyone. I am starting this post with the rest of my photos from U.K., as I thought I had done enough last week.
Ben and I returned from our visit to Sydenham for Jim's licensing service, to Ben's house in Birmingham. I was staying with him for a couple of extra days, mainly because there was a flight on the Tuesday that was £200 less than for the same journey at the weekend! He had to go to work but there is plenty for me to see in the city so on the first day I went to the Botanical gardens which are just a short walk from Ben's house. It is lovely there, but last time we went together it rained, so we only saw a small part of it, and I wanted to explore further.

You start by walking through a series of rooms where the climate is controlled so they can grow exotic plants. The first room has a pond with huge koi carp in it. They are very used to people and swim to the surface if you stop to see them. I love all the strange flowers. The curled up purple one was called a Snail flower, for obvious reasons. All the waist high surrounds had deep green moss on them, and several pea-hens were enjoying a dust bath by the warm glass. The pea-cocks were strutting around on the grass outside.

There are several areas with natural pools and streams, and the ferns and grasses around them make them look so pretty. The big fountain was also running, and the moss grew thick on its stone bowl and base.

Of course the trees were all wearing their Autumn coats so I had to make another small collage to show off their glory.
Everywhere you walked the leaves made a carpet of gold and brown, with sometimes a few spots of red too.
In the centre of the gardens is a sheltered aviary for these pretty love birds, and I stood watching them interact with one another. There were so many different colours in their plumage, and they are so sweet.
I finished off my visit with a trip to the café for a cup of tea and delicious scone with jam and clotted cream.
The next day I decided to visit the cathedral in Birmingham city. I walk through its grounds to get the bus back to Ben's house, but I have never been inside. But I get off the bus on the other side of New Street station and have to walk through it and out again to get to the cathedral. On my way I found myself in Broad Street which was a hive of activity as they were preparing the chalets and stalls for the Christmas market which was opening the following weekend.
So I had a wander round that, feeling sad that I was going home just too soon to enjoy spending time there. I was at my son Jonathan's house in Manchester last year and loved the time we spent browsing the stalls and tasting all the special food and drinks. Birmingham's market is not as grand and most of the stalls did seem to be food and drink only, but I am sure there would be other items when it was all set up. They had put up a beautiful Christmas tree outside the Town hall, up on stilts so it provided an area of shade and shelter underneath for the visitors. It was decorated with big red candles. Another tree further down the street had more traditional decorations and an angel at the top. Some stalls were just covered in lights and others had elaborate characters climbing over them, and there were still quite a few waiting on the ground to be installed.
Eventually I made it to the cathedral, and the main thing that left an impression on me was the two large stained-glass windows at either end of the main section. There were also two smaller ones on either side of the one at the front. What made them different from others I have seen was their vibrant colours, and even on a rather damp and grey day, they really shone out.
If you can click on this and read the script below them, you will see that the artist was Bourne-Jones and his close friend and co-worker was William Morris. In this close up of part of the clothing in the second window, you can just see faintly William Morris' influence in the floral decoration of the fabric.
While I was looking around, a young woman was playing the organ beautifully, so I sat and listened to her until it was time to go for my bus.

So now it is time to look at what I have been up to this week. We started on Sunday with our Service of Remembrance. There is a strong British Legion group in this area, and several of their members came to join us. Our leaders had made the church look lovely. As well as the poppies on the altar and around the walls, posters had been made telling the stories of friends and relatives of our congregation who had been involved in the services during the two world wars, and other conflicts since.
The green board on a table at the front, was a place where we could write the name of anyone we wanted to remember, on a white cross, and pin it up.
Darren played the Last Post on his trumpet to start our 2mins silence, and we all sang some rousing hymns. It was a lovely, thought provoking service.

On Monday we had an appointment with Arwen at the groomers. Normally I have her anesthetised twice a year so the groomer can shave her, but she is 12 years old and getting too old to cope with the anesthetic. Also the groomer at the vets is a 'dog person' and I was not very happy with the way she did Arwen last time so I wanted to try someone different. A lady who does grooming at a local kennels said she would have a go, but we knew Arwen needed some sedation as she is a feisty lady even in her old age. So I got up early and gave her some tablets that the vet provided, which needed at least an hour to take effect. It was a bit of a struggle, and she still put up a good fight, but between us we managed to shave most her, and still preserve her face, tail and boots. So she is now a little white lion, albeit a grumpy one. But I am sure she is feeling a lot more comfortable, and at least she won't be throwing up any more hair balls for a while.
Most of my time this week has been taken up making angels and designing the card to go with them. I gave them to a friend to check my Spanish translation as they needed all the writing to be in both English and Spanish, and I was pleased that he only found very minor mistakes for me to correct. On Sunday the last of the angels made by members of our congregations will be brought to church, and on Tuesday some friends are coming here to help me get them all put in bags with a card, ready to be distributed the following weekend. 
But yesterday I took a day off from angels to make my first batch of mince pies. I have promised some for the Autumn Fayre in Mojacar tomorrow, so here are the first five and a half dozen, along with some plain, spiced biscuits. No doubt I'll be making more very soon.

We have enjoyed some warm, sunny days though with much colder nights, but the latter part of this week has seen more banks of clouds gathering. So last night I was just closing the shutters in my craft room when I spotted a few streaks of pink in the sky. Seeing as we haven't had a decent sunset for a while, I grabbed my camera and hurried out side in time to see the streaks joining forces to make this pretty scene.
Within minutes the whole sky was ablaze and it was stunning. Then just as suddenly it was gone. I am so glad I didn't miss it.

Here is a smile and a half on the face of my little great-grandson Alfie. He was going for his 10m swimming badge but he "just kept going", and ended up with 25m as well. Not bad for little lad who won't be five until the week after Christmas. His mum says it is all the practising he did in our pool last summer!

Now I am going to link up with Annie's Friday Smiles, and Rocking Your World, and I will leave you with a picture a friend of mine posted on her Facebook page. I don't know where she saw it, but it made me smile.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Rocking Your World 2019: Week 45

Hi everyone. I am now back home in Spain. It seems ages since my last post, but I have been busy, so here is just some of what I have been up to.

After returning to UK with my sister Jean, I spent a lovely couple of days with her, enjoying some retail therapy so I could spend my birthday money (easily done!), and also spending time with our other sister Dorothy who lives nearby. It was nice to have enough time for a proper catch up. I was also hoping to visit three of our sons while in UK so it was a nice surprise when a fourth one turned up. I had a long, rather tedious train journey up to Manchester to visit our son Jonathan in his new house, and when we went out for a meal that evening, our second son Mike and his partner Lucy turned up unexpectedly to join us. This was a random shot someone took of us.

Jonathan and Ella are just getting to know their new area and they had found a good Thai restaurant in Altrincham, so that is where we went. And we had a really good meal, and as you can see, we also enjoyed one another's company.
The next day, Mike and Lucy had to go home, but Jonathan, Ella and I returned to Altrincham to visit the open market. There were lots of interesting stalls to browse through, and we found one that sold all sorts of dog equipment, toys, treats etc. They bought a piece of horn which their dog Rudy loved. It is hard to find things that she can't destroy in minutes, but that will keep her happy for quite a while. I bought her some bacon scented bubbles! We couldn't wait to see her play with them. She was fascinated, and sat waiting for next lot to be blown. Then she jumped around trying to catch them. Hours of fun in a little bottle.
We were up early the next day so Jonathan could get me on the right tram to the station before he went on to work. When we opened the door to let the dog out, we found the ground was white with the first frost of the year. Rudy wasn't so keen on getting cold paws.
I got my train and had a much smoother ride back as far as Birmingham to spend the next week with Ben. We had really lovely weather while I was there. I don't mind it being a bit chilly, when there is a warm house to go back to, and the blue sky and sunshine made a brisk Autumn walk worth doing. There are lots of trees in the area where Ben lives, and the various colours in their leaves were so beautiful. I took so many photos ready for some scrapbook pages, but I have made collages of a few for this post. I think you can click on them to see them better.

The floor was carpeted in golds and browns, and they were crispy to walk on. When I returned in my last couple of days, they had been rained on and were a bit wet and slippery. The poor workmen had the thankless task of trying to sweep them up, but more fell so they had to come back each day and try again.

On Thursday, Ben and I travelled up to London to attend a special service for my oldest son Jim, who was to be licensed as the vicar of St. Bartholomew's church in Sydenham.
It is a very different church from his previous one which had a modern building, with the main body of the church also being the school hall all week. This is a grade 2 listed building, and at present it's square tower is covered by scaffolding as they are restoring the old clock and bells. 
Mike again was able to unexpectedly join us for this, but sadly Jonathan couldn't make it as it was a work day, and Tom could not make the trip across from Denmark. Jim and Jo's three children had come from their universities in Aberystwyth, York and Brighton,  so there was quite a gang of us. Their new house is just two doors down from the church so we all walked round to the service and were greeted by this banner, blowing between the trees.
I took a few photos inside the church, before the service began, mainly to show Chris when I got home as he had stayed here to look after the animals.
I was seated right at the front next to a lovely floral display, and I was amused to find that, what I thought was roses, was in fact ornamental cabbages! There was a party of their friends from their previous church in Wolverhampton, who had travelled up by minibus. They had got lost and arrived just in time! There were also representatives from the local council, and the schools in the parish.
This was taken at the end of the service, showing Jim standing with the Bishop, and other church officials around them. The two without robes are the church wardens.
Afterwards we were invited to a wonderful buffet, which included this lovely red velvet cake, made by one of the congregation.               The new vicarage is lovely, a spacious house, with plenty of rooms for the family when they want to come home, and for visitors as well. There is a nice garden at the back, but they are hoping to have a big, fox-proof chicken run covering some of it.
They are a cat loving family so I soon felt at home there. This is Phantom and Ghost, who spent a lot of time surveying their new territory through the windows. They haven't been let out yet, but this week the cat flap will be unlocked and they can explore. They are near a much busier road than they are used to, so I hope they stay in the garden.
The two black and white cats, Severous and Severina, were more content to find a cosy bed and curl up in it, but they also spent time sitting on me which was nice.
On the next day, most of the family chose to stay at home, but Jim and I went for a long walk, so he could begin to get his bearings around the parish. We walked up a hill that led from their house to the highest point in the area, and from there we could see some of the main buildings that make the iconic skyline in London city.
At the top of the hill, a small gate led into Sydenham Hill Woods, so we set off on our adventure. Again the trees were beautiful, so here is another collage of just a few of them.
There were paths veering off in every direction, so we just kept making random choices, and at some point we crossed over into Dulwich Woods. Here we found a small pond, ivy covered logs with fungi growing on them, and interesting tree formations. All the wood land was well tended, with fallen branches used to edge the paths, and areas fenced off for the land to recover, and improve the habitats for wildlife.
When we emerged from the woods we had no idea where we were, but after a few wrong turns we found a stop for the buses we knew passed their home, so we had a ride back. According to my fitbit, I was an 'overachiever' and we had covered 9km. That is the furthest I have walked in a very long time, but I really enjoyed it, and it was good to spend time alone with Jim to put the world to rights!
Then Ben and I returned to Birmingham where I had a couple more days before my flight home. I made good use of them, but I have decided to keep those photos for next week's post. 

So now I just have a couple more things to share. Firstly my 'Ta-dah moment'. I finished my blanket with a little time to spare, and was able to take it to UK to give to Jim's wife Jo. She loves butterflies and her favourite colour is purple so when I saw this pattern it was a no-brainer really. It is done in Locking filet crochet, the same as the native American one I made for Jonathan and Ella, so it is almost a cellular, double thickness which gives it warmth and weight. Jo suffers from fybromyalgia, and on bad days she likes to cuddle up under a heavy blanket. She loves it, and has already made use of it, so it was worth the work.
Having got used to the autumnal chill in UK it was nice to find the sun still shining here in Spain. Our garden is rather in need of some attention, but in the front bed I found this rose still covered in blooms. I thought they would be long gone. This particular rose grows very tall so the flowers are just outside the sitting room windows.
And finally I am going to try to upload a small clip of a video. Our family is nothing if not varied, and it amused me when a few days after Jim's Induction at St.Barts, this video of his younger brother came up. He is the drummer in several heavy metal bands and one of them is getting recognition and has been invited to support much more famous groups. On bonfire night he was playing with his band Shuck at the Soup Kitchen in Manchester, supporting the band Big Business. I have a video of the full song but HERE is a clip of the last 50 seconds when Jonathan did his solo riff. He knows I don't care for his music much but I do enjoy seeing him play, with so much energy and passion. 
So now it is time to link up with Annie's Friday Smiles and Rocking Your World. Hopefully I will be back to normal now and able to post every week.