Kate's adventures

Friday, January 18, 2019

Rocking Your World 2019; Week 3

First of all I am so sorry that I didn't manage to visit everyone last week, and a big Thank you to those who still visited me and left comments. I am trying to post earlier today so I have time to visit others before I go out this afternoon. 

So here is my Smile this week. This is our youngest son Ben, (on the right), all dressed up for his part in the Pantomime at Perton, Wolverhampton, this week. These two are Snatcher and Scarper, the 'annoying tax collectors'. The Harlequin Pantomime Company put on a show each January, and after three shows they are getting great reviews. There is still tonight's performance, plus the matinee tomorrow afternoon and the Grand Finale in the evening. I would love to be there to watch him, and my daughter-in-law who is in the chorus, but it isn't possible so soon after my November visit. I did manage to get there a few years ago, and I was really impressed at the standard of their show.

And now for my week. We had a bitter sweet service at church on Sunday. The music, message and fellowship were wonderful as ever, but we had to bid a very sad 'Good-bye' to special people. Keith is struggling with some health issues so they decided it was time to return to UK, to live near family and friends. Sue is a wonderful pianist and she has played for all our services ever since the church opened four years ago. (She played at our previous church too). They were active members of our house group, attending regularly and often hosting or leading a session. Sue is also the one who has gathered together a small group of us, and trained us to sing  a song or two at special services, such as our Spanish lullaby at the carol service in December. So they will be sorely missed. 
On a more  personal level, they were our friends. Until I had Ben's 'spare' piano out here, Sue lent us hers for my music evenings at home whenever Ben was over, and always played for us as well. As yet we do not have a permanent replacement pianist for the church, but we have one or two who will help out when they can.

On Tuesday, this was the photo in the English papers, and local media network.
It was the opening of the long awaited airport at Corvera. This is quite close to Murcia airport which is now closed to public flights. People who have already booked flights to Murcia, will be automatically transferred to Corvera. It was opened by King Philipe, and the first flight in was  a Ryanair plane from East Midlands, which managed to land a few minutes before the Royal jet landed! For us the journey will be very much the same as before, so we won't notice a huge difference, except there will hopefully be better facilities, as everything is new.
We have always travelled to Murcia airport using the toll road, which opened ten years ago, just as we arrived here. It is expensive, but the road is so straightforward, with hardly any traffic, so it is worth it for us. We can still use it for part of the way to Corvera and we may decide to do so, as this week the toll fee was reduced by 30%, and made free between midnight and 6.00am, so that is all good news for us.
On Tuesday afternoon I went to the local campsite for a Brexit meeting. It was ill-timed as nothing was certain, and a lot rested on the vote later that night, but they didn't know that when the meeting was arranged. I was very surprised at the turnout for it. Luckily it was a sunny afternoon so they were able to use the outside patio.
The main part of the new bar, just inside the glass enclosure was also full, and by the time I arrived it was standing room only.
It was an interesting meeting, opened by our Lady Mayor, with short presentations from the British Consulate, the health department, the tax office, the legal adviser for the voluntary group called Ex-pats in Spain, and their leader. Then they each sat at a table and we were invited to queue up at any, or all, of them to ask questions. They promised they would not leave until everyone's questions had been answered. Obviously they couldn't give us any definitive answers, but they were able to dispel a few worries and kill some rumours, and they gave us information on special web-sites we can sign up to to get updates on everything as they happen. So I was glad I went. Now we just have to wait and see what happens!

We have had some beautiful sunny days this week, and although our usual sitting area in the porch is shady quite early in the afternoon, the back of the house is a sun-trap, so we have been sitting out there most days for a while, and have even eaten our lunch out there one day. As I sat in the corner I noticed a small butterfly on the wall that had just emerged from the cocoon below it. It sat in the sun for a long time, while its wings dried and pumped up. Unfortunately I couldn't stay there long enough to see it open them to fly away. I am sure it is not really the season for new butterflies to be emerging.
Also while we were out there, I leaned over the railings and spotted the first blossom on the old almond trees in the green zone. The trees are very old, and not cared for at all, so they are well passed their best, but they still mange to produce some blossom each year, and occasionally a traveller will come through and collect some nuts.

Although the afternoons are sunny, and quite warm, as soon as the sun sets it is chilly. Our fire has been playing up so some evenings we have been making good use of my crocheted blankets. I am still working on my Havana blanket , but I don't want to show the progress until it is done. But this week I saw a new pattern which I loved, and it intrigued me as it uses a technique I have never tried. I have been crocheting almost since I could walk, so I didn't think there was too much more to learn, but there are some very talented folk around, and wonderful designers. This particular blanket is made using Interlocking filet crochet, where you work with two contrasting colours, doing one row of the main colour, then going back to the start and doing a row of the alternate colour, then turning round and working one row back in each colour, working through one with the other, so the two pieces are interlocked. Depending whether you work through from the front or back, you see one or other colour, so it is possible to form a picture. Sounds complicated doesn't it, and I wasn't sure whether it was for me. But thank goodness for Youtube and clear tutorials. Before starting on her blanket, the designer suggested we work two small test pieces so I decided to have a go. I had to unpick bits a few times, but then it suddenly clicked, and I managed to do the first swatch, so I was quite proud of myself. apparently you are never too old to learn new tricks. 
I shall have a go at the second test piece soon, which I understand is a bit more complicated. Whether or not I go on to make the blanket remains to be seen. I have four projects on the go at the minute so I will not start anything new until some of them are finished, but it is definitely earmarked as a possibility for the next one!
I had an exciting day yesterday, when Chris helped me to finance the order of some new furniture for my craft room. Ever since I had my new computer desk, wall space has been at a premium, and all my card, and many embellishments are stored in a tall filing cabinet which only fits in at a right-angle to the wall, effectively making a dark alcove in the corner so it is hard to see what I want from in the cupboard. Also there is a stack of boxes in front of it that has to be moved whenever I want to open the doors. On the other side I have some purpose built shelves that hold the "Really Useful Boxes", and I find them wonderful. It is so easy to get to anything I want. So the cabinet is to go, and the tall tower of plastic drawers next to my desk, which is old and shakey and has too many ledges to gather dust, and in their place will be a tall double set of boxes on one side, and a narrow tower of deep boxes on the other. It should make the room a lot lighter, my materials more accessible, and be a good incentive for me to sort through everything and get rid of what has not seen the light of day for some years! I don't know how long it will take to arrive, but I know from the ones I have already got, that it will be very easy to assemble, and I can't wait to see it all in place.
In the meantime I have been busy in the kitchen again. I was given a bag of bitter oranges on Wednesday so yesterday was another marmalade day. There were enough oranges to do two batches so I now have 36 jars on my table, just waiting for their labels before I store them on the shelves in the garage.
For each batch of marmalade I make I use 2kg of oranges and 5-6 lemons, so I am working through the ones on our tree, only picking them as I need them. There is still plenty on there at the minute which is great, as I usually have to buy the lemons. You can now clearly see the next generation of fruit forming, so it is looking hopeful for next year's crop too.
And I think that is just about it for this week, so i will just link up with Rocking Your World and Annie's Friday Smiles, and I promise I will visit everyone else this week as well.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Rocking Your World 2019: Week 2

I seem to have been busy all week without achieving a great deal, but all the groups I attend are back in force, so I have been to my house group, sewing group and tonight my choir, and they keep me busy. 
Of course, this is a very special week here in Spain, as Epiphany or Three Kings Day, on January 6th, is a huge celebration which far exceeds Christmas. And in my village, that means that Sunday was a fiesta, starting with the arrival of the three Kings down the main street, riding three handsome horses.
They had already "arrived" the previous nights, driving round the streets on a float, and ending at the marquee on the car park to hand out gifts to the local children (provided by their parents!). But Sunday is the real fiesta.
The Kings arrive at the palace of King Herod to inquire where the newborn king was.
An angry Herod dispatches his soldiers to hunt for the baby, and demands the death of all male babies under the age of two.
The pattern of this little play is very much the same each year though they did introduce a few small changes this year, including having one soldier who was English!
After the play our lovely local priest, Father Miguel, held an open air mass on the plaza.
Then the medieval market was officially open.
This included lovely, old-fashioned rides for the children...
..... plenty of food of course, which this time included a huge vat of migas, a mixture of flour added to oil and water and chopped up, with sweet peppers, choritzo, garlic and other sausages added at the end.
This is dolled out free of charge to anyone who is willing to queue up for it.
Migas is not one of our favourites, so we chose, instead, to sit in the peaceful setting of the Moroccan tent, to eat delicious wraps, so well filled we had trouble handling them!
One area I love to visit is the display of owls and other birds of prey. This year he didn't bring the snakes that are usually there too, but he had some beautiful birds. I chose to get up close and comfortable with this gorgeous Siberian owl. She was the size of the Eagle owl but white instead of brown, though she doesn't look very white in this photo.
She was very used to being handled and let me stroke her breast feathers that were so soft and downy. (I had my compression gloves on because my arthritis was bad that day, but I wished I had thought to remove them before holding the owl.).
At various times throughout the day, the handler took his falcon around the market and let it fly freely through the crowds. It often chose to sit up on the wires above us, but then it swooped down, giving some folk a bit of a scare!
In the evening, many stalls were packing up, ready to move on to a new venue the next day, but a street entertainer stood in the road juggling with fire.
He only had a small audience as it was getting chilly, and most people had had a long day and were ready for their warm houses or a local bar. But he was quite skilled and showed good composure and balance when he managed to keep a glass sphere on his head while juggling.

In other news, the starlings came back on Monday, this time flying below me in the green zone, and all coming in to land in the trees.
They were so noisy, and Arwen sat at my craft room window trying to follow them, looking utterly bemused. They kept taking off, forming a 'cloud' and settling again throughout the day, which is quite unusual. I have normally only seen them at dusk, and occasionally early in the morning. We had some workmen in that afternoon, and they couldn't get over them flying around us. I think we need to get the power washer out for the patio now. They disappeared that evening and we haven't seen them since. But the temperature at night has dropped really low this week, so they have probably set off for their winter home somewhere a bit warmer.

Yesterday we took Kim to the vet, to visit the groomer who has a room at the surgery. Knowing how difficult this was last time, the vet started off by giving him a sedative to calm him, but I sat with him for half an hour and it didn't seem to have a lot of effect. We only wanted him stripped out a bit, not too much while it is cold, the knots behind his legs removed, his tail combed through, and a closer shave up to his tail. He is such a gentle giant who loves people, including children, and is good with other animals. He demands attention, and pesters all the time to have his head and shoulders rubbed, but go more than halfway down his back, and that's a 'no-no'.  So fair play to the two girls grooming him, who managed to do all I asked. They kept him for four and a half hours, as every time he got too agitated, they stopped and dealt with a different dog, and then came back and did a bit more. He sulked for the rest of the day. He tends to chose to stay outside, but we did coax him in to lay on the settee in the evening, but he hadn't forgiven us by then.
The face says it all really!
Between driving to and from the vets, and getting the last of my Christmas decorations stowed away in the proper place in the garage, I did manage to make my first seventeen jars of marmalade. The kitchen smelled wonderful. A big improvement on the smell when I am making pickles! These will soon sell at church and my sewing group, so I hope I get given some more bitter oranges before the end of their season.
I had a good day yesterday, managing to get two loads of washing done and dried outside, and completed most things on my 'to do' list, but at the last minute I remembered I needed to empty my recycling bins. I have three big bins outside the kitchen door, for plastic and cans, paper and cardboard, and glass. They fill up alarmingly fast, so when they are starting to overflow, I take them to the big recycling bins at the edge of the village. I decided I just had time to get them done before it got dark, and on the way I stopped to take a photo of this sky. The pale pink mass was streaming out from some low dark clouds, and it looked so pretty.
And now it is time to link up with Annie's Friday Smiles and Rocking Your World, and then get ready for choir practice.