Kate's adventures

Friday, December 8, 2017

Rocking Your World 2017: Week 49

Hi folks. I am trying to write a very quick post tonight (Thursday) as our son arrives tomorrow lunch-time, and I have choir practice in the evening, so it is not likely to get written then. 
So here is a little smile. Meet 'Santa's little helper'.
This lovely lady is Selina, who, with her sister, runs our Wednesday sewing group. This week she dressed up to deliver our Christmas presents to us. We were each given a lovely padded sewing box, and her sister Gloria had hand stitched and appliquéd a felt needle case to go with it.

It has been a lovely week which started with our crib service on Sunday morning. We rarely have children at our church as we are mainly a community of retirees, but for this service, some friends bring their children along, and as we listened to the readings and sang familiar carols, the children brought the corresponding characters to place in the stable. 

This little group are two English children with their two Spanish friends. It was lovely to have them there with us. So we now have a well-dressed crib.

On Monday evening we had one of my favourite celebrations of the season, the joint Spanish/English carol service at the old catholic church in Mojacar Pueblo. It is the traditional nine readings and carols, but the readings are alternately read in Spanish and English, and then both priest read the last one from St John's gospel. Similarly the carols are an English one and then a Spanish one, and at the end we all sing Silent Night in our own language, and surprisingly it works really well. (The Spanish carols are much 'jollier' than ours!)
Here are the Catholic priest in the purple cloak (he is a lovely man who is also priest in charge at the little church in our village), and next to him is our current Locum priest, who apparently spent several years here when he was much younger so he spoke fluent Spanish! The other people are from Mojacar council.
It is quite an unusual building for such an old historic church. As you can see it is light and airy, and behind the altar there is a really attractive fresco painted in pastel colours.
When the English people sing their carols they all sing together, but the Spanish ones are sung alternately by two choirs. The second one is referred to as a gypsy choir, and they sing with such gusto, They have amazing voices.
The man in red is playing his guitar, but there is also a more unorthodox percussion instrument which always makes me smile.

To add to the feeling that Christmas is coming, we came home from walking the dogs yesterday to find this propped up against our wall. It was upside down, and I was standing up close to it, and I couldn't for the life of me see what it was, though strangely it is perfectly clear in my photo.
An hour or so later the man was there with his lifting lorry, fixing it to the telegraph pole outside our house. It is a corner of our roof in the photo. So next week you will probably see a shining Santa outside our gate.

There was another 'super moon' this week. Did you see it? It really was huge and so bright here. Of course I tried to get photos of it again and ended up with one that is very much the same as the last time we had one, and also one with some nice light aberration around it.

I have been busy in the kitchen today. I had to do some quick shopping first as it was a bank holiday yesterday, and there is another one tomorrow,which means most of the shops are shut, so it had to be today. But after that I made another twelve dozen or so mince pies, so that is them all done and dusted for this year. I also made three cakes ready for my visitors, the last of which has just come out of the oven. Talk about multi-tasking, while writing this I have also been setting my Cameo machine to cut out a lot of files ready for one more craft project I am hoping to get done. I think it is the last set cutting now, but I have no idea when I will get it put together.

On my desk beside me I am burning my advent candle. I am already several days behind with it, so I am doing a catch-up. My sister Jean and I both bought them when we were shopping in UK. I wonder if she has been more efficient than me at burning it each day?!

One more happy is a cute little piece of crochet that I did this week. It is a special surprise so I can't show it until next week.

Now I will close with something that I found very interesting and exciting, though I know not everyone will. I was in the garden yesterday teatime to let the dogs round to the kitchen door for their tea, and I found the bright pink bougainvillea had grown even more and was dropping quite low over the gate. When I went to lift it up I saw quite a big, green, praying mantis on it. They fascinate me, (I was one of those strange people who kept, and bred, stick insects as a child. My brother said watching them was like watching paint drying, but I loved them). 
Anyway, as I looked closer at the mantis I suddenly realised she was laying her eggs. She lays them in a creamy white froth which hardens into a protective case and they will stay there for 3-6 months, depending on the temperature, and then anywhere between 30 and 300 babies will hatch out! They are welcome in the garden as they are one of the best predators for eating aphids and mosquitoes, but apparently they are also cannibalistic, and when they hatch, if there is no food immediately available, they will eat one another! So it recommends watching for them to hatch, and spreading them around the garden as soon as possible. The mother left them this morning, and I understand she will now die, though she may lay more eggs somewhere else first. As you can tell, I did some research on it after I found her.

Now I am going to schedule this to post tomorrow morning, and if I have time before we leave for the airport, I will link it with Annie's Friday Smiles and Rocking Your World. I have a very, very busy week coming up, so hopefully I will get back to share it with you next Friday.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Rocking Your World 2017: Week 48

Well my choir practice had to come first this week. It was a good evening and we are just about ready for our big Friends and Family concert in ten days time. Now I am shattered, but I am sure I can find a few things that have made me smile this week.
We have been see-sawing between bright blue skies and sunny days, and very cold evenings when it is great to sit in front of the fire with my knitting etc, and usually an animal or two to keep me company. 
Well yesterday the blue skies disappeared and for a day and a night we had the heavy rain that had been forecast. I am sure it did the ground a lot of good, and it means I don't have to stand around with a hose pipe for another week. It also meant that I had an extra long time to cosy up in the sitting room. I finished a book I have been reading and then got stuck into some crochet. In this photo, Tango is laying across my lap (he's far warmer than a lap blanket!), having an occasional swipe at my wool, and generally getting in the way of my work, Foxy is falling off her bed down below us, and Luna and Kim are sharing a settee. Paco was in there too, over on another chair. Chris was busy in his office, so I had music playing through my bluetooth speaker, and just felt very relaxed, peaceful and lucky. 

Today the warm sunshine was back and I got a big load of washing done, which dried outside and is now folded and put away. Another blessing!

On Tuesday I needed to do some shopping so I drove in to the nearby town of Vera. I know it was mid-week, and I was on the edge of the town, but everywhere was so quiet. There was none of the pre-Christmas hustle and bustle that is usually found in an English town by now. The big church on the town square had a few decorations on it, but where are the people?
The Town Hall had done their best. They even have their Christmas lights stretched across each street, which is quite early for Spain, but every other shop I passed was closed or boarded up.
I enjoy the build up to the festivities. This is the first week of Advent, which means some lovely ladies from our church spent a day this week getting our tree in place and building the crib, ready for the children to place the characters in during our service on Sunday.
Doesn't it all look lovely?
Of course their husbands helped too, doing the bits up a ladder, suspending stars from the archway, wiring lights etc, and I think they have all done a really good job. 
You can't see it in this photo, but there is a small table to the right where we have a small palm tree with lights and decorations. Many are wooden like this Baby Jesus in the manger, and they were brought over from Bethlehem, so they are very special to us.
One bit of Christmas preparation that hasn't happened here for a few years, is making the pudding. I love that warm, treacle and spice smell, but as I am the only one who eats it, it seems like a rather unnecessary amount of effort. But this year our son and his partner are coming over, and then my grandson the next week, so there will be some extra mouths to help me eat it up. Of course it should have been done back in October but I hadn't got my act together by then, so this week I finally got it done. Of course I had to take it in to Chris to have a stir and make a wish - traditions must be upheld!
Now two lovely puddings have been steamed and are wrapped up in the larder to mature a little before the first one is needed in a couple of weeks time.
I have also made a start on the 'mince-pie marathon'. I had promised some for the cake stall at the Chaplaincy Christmas fair on Saturday, so yesterday I got stuck in and made the first eleven dozen. I will need to do a few more, but that was a good start. I think I earned my afternoon with the animals.

It is almost time to harvest the new season's oranges, and it looks to be quite a good year, at least for some folk. This tree is in next door's garden, and sadly she only visits a couple of times a year, so much of this fruit will fall and rot, though her gardener and cleaner will eventually pick some of it. On the other side of our house we have another mostly absent neighbour, who has orange trees all down the side of her garden. They also have plenty of fruit on them. They do come to pick them around Christmas week, but lots of them hang over our fence, and we feel we can pick these, so I must go out there soon as they are beginning to drop and spoil.
Unfortunately we have no ground to plant fruit trees so we have one orange tree in a giant pot. Last year it yielded about two dozen beautiful oranges, but this year it only has four! I think we probably let it get too dry when the fruit was setting. Hopefully we will do better next year. 
We also have a new tree, that we bought last year. It is only a 'baby' yet and it only has one fruit on it. It is a mandarin tree and we have always wanted one. As only one fruit set this year I have been guarding it, and this week we are going to pick it, and eat half each! Then I shall cut back some of the thin trailing branches and hope it grows stronger for next year. It will need a bigger pot soon, but for now I am not going to disturb the roots.
I am happy to say that this week I have managed to post all of my Christmas cards, ahead of the two bank holidays that occur next week - a secular one, Día de la Constitucíon on Wednesday, and a religious one, Imaculada, on Friday. Hopefully all my cards will be away from Spain before these holidays. Now I just have to write the ones for my local friends that will be delivered by hand.
And finally here is one lovely sky photo that I took one night during this week. It was probably on Wednesday evening just as the rain clouds were gathering. I love all the layers of light.
Lovely isn't it?
And on that note I will say 'Bye' for this week, and link up with Annie's Friday Smiles and Rocking Your World, and I will do my best to post next week. It will be our final choir practice on Friday and it is also the day our son arrives so I expect we will be going out in the evening to find some karaoke for him, but I will try to write it early - famous last words!