Friday, August 4, 2017

Rocking Your World 2017; Week 31


Here is my smile for this week; These two lovely smilers are my great-grandsons and in just two days time they will be here with us for a week of Spanish sunshine. I don't think they'll be needing those long trousers and jumpers out here!!



It has been another scorcher this week. When I walked up the road Thursday lunchtime, the thermometer on the Farmacia was showing 43º. I am melting! Minimum clothing and multiple fans don't really cope in that kind of heat, but we are reluctant to have the aircon on for more than short bursts, as it is very drying, and leaves me coughing. I am just so grateful that we have our own pool to dip in after each chore is done. I must admit I keep chores to a minimum in the summer, but with a house full of visitors next week, a certain amount of clearing, bed making etc had to be done!

On Saturday I did what I had to do as early as possible and then took a break, because on Saturday evening my choir were singing at an open air multicultural festival at Cantoria, a small village an hour's drive from here. We wouldn't chose to sing outdoors, and with slightly reduced numbers because of folks on holiday, we weren't sure how it would go. 
The first thing was to find the venue!. We had been to Cantoria once, just after we moved here because it is where our first two rescue pups were from, but we only had a vague idea of where we were going. But google maps helped us, and we knew the festival was all around the big village church, so that proved a landmark that was hard to miss.
Chris came with me . He knows I don't like driving at night, especially when I don't know the area. When we arrived it was easy to spot a few choir members who had arrived before us, all congregating near a big metal pergola in the church grounds, which was where we would be singing.
We had time for a quick look around so we wandered up the street to a small plaza, where a lot of people were relaxing in street bars while a road race was going on just beside them.
There were several stalls selling everything from food to clothes and toys, and in front of the church there was a display of kick-boxing, presumably by a local club as there were participants of all ages there.
Between them and our pergola, there was a stall called a 'Taste of Britain', where there was a constant supply of mini scones with jam and cream, fruit cake, small savouries etc. They were free of charge and people were enjoying trying them all out. Every time a plate was emptied, it was filled again, and they still had more to put out for us when we had done our performance.
It was time for us to take our places ready to sing. We don't normally have chairs on stage, but we were glad of them that night, because we ended up having to sit down between some songs while we waited for the church clock to ring out it's next set of chimes. A man from the organising panel was there to warn us when the next peal would come, and we managed to time our songs around them pretty well!
It was the first time we have sung together for a while, and we all sung our hearts out and thoroughly enjoyed it. I hope the audience enjoyed it as much as we did. I think they did. We now have a month off before we start again in September, with new music to learn for the Autumn concerts.
We left soon after our 'bit' as we had a long drive home, but as we left there were still plenty of locals enjoying food and drinks in the bars, and I expect the festivities went on for a few more hours after we got home.

Not a lot else has happened this week. I did manage one little task that has been on my 'to do' list for some time. Back in 2004, Chris and I spent three weeks in Arizona, visiting some of Chris family who live there, and also celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary. We did brief detours to Las Vegas just to say we had been, and to the Grand Canyon which was on my bucket list, and it was amazing. But the area we really liked was up in the red rock mountains near the little village of Sedona. On one trip we visited a silver mine and a large open market where you could buy all sorts of metal and leather goods. We went to area that only sold wind chimes and we bought a beautiful set. It turned out to be bigger than we realised and it caused us some problems when we were packing to come home. It ended up in a separate parcel taped to our largest case! But it is beautifully tuned so that whenever the wind catches it, it always has a melodic chime. Of course we brought it to Spain with us and it hung on the end of my washing lines at the back of the house. On really windy weeks we had to tie the pipes together with string as it was just too noisy and also was in danger of getting tangled and broken.
Of course that is what eventually happened, and for a couple of years it has been buried in the garage, where I happened upon it when I was clearing out last month. So I have now rubbed down all the wooden parts and stained them again, and I have restrung the pipe that was hanging loose. It is back hanging on washing line now, which is more or less outside my craft room window. So with the gentle breezes we have at the minute, I am treated to lovely chimes wafting in through the open window. This time I will rescue it before the weather gets too rough, and hopefully it will give me many more years of pleasure.

I am calling this picture "Hot Dogs!"
Poor Foxy and Kim. They are feeling the heat. They both have thick double coats which they are shedding like mad at the moment, but I have been advised against having them shaved, as the double layer provides insulation against both heat and cold. So I am brushing them every morning, which for some reason Kim hates, but he doesn't get the choice while he is moulting. I have filled a big bin with their hair but I don't think there is too much more to come. Neither of them like water. I tried to get Kim to come under the hose this morning. I had it set to a very gentle spray, and I just about got his feet wet, but that is all. Usually they have their breakfast round at the kitchen door and then they go back to the porch on the other side of the house. But the kitchen door is on the shady side of the house, and is quite a bit cooler, so for now I am keeping them round there for the morning. They are unsure about any change in their routine, so when I went out to hang some washing today, they both immediately sat down and looked expectantly at me, in the hope I was going to open the gate and let them round to the porch, or maybe even that I had the odd treat in my hand which they know they have to sit for. Who could resist those trusting eyes?

And all that leaves me with is one photo of a beautiful sky that I spotted late on Wednesday evening. These hot humid days often end with a few clouds, and we have even had the odd spot of rain some evenings. (So odd you could walk between the drops!). I could do with a good storm to clear the air, but everywhere is so dusty that the tiny bit of rain we did get was full of red dust and left everything covered in it. But on Wednesday the clouds were very broken and looked so pretty in the dying light. I was just glad I had my camera to hand, because it only lasted for few minutes and then darkness fell.
So it is link up time now and I am linking with Rocking Your World, and Annie's Friday Smiles.
With ten visitors from Sunday for a week, and then just one for the next two weeks, I doubt whether I will get to write a blog next week, but I won't be missing for long. See you soon.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Rocking Your Wold 2017; Week 30

After all the noise and activity of fiesta week, it has been quite nice to have a relaxed uneventful week this week. I have actually been the victim of another tummy bug, but although I was very sleepy for a couple of days, it didn't make me feel too ill, just wise not to stray too far from home!! Of course the heat doesn't help, and may well have been a contributing factor,  but I have had plenty of time to sit around, enjoy long siestas, and actually get a few bits of crafting etc done.


Last week I showed a new, powerful fan I had bought for my room. One good thing about its design is that the usual four cross over feet, which I always trip over, and which are not strong enough to withstand heavy items being left on them etc, have been replaced with a sturdy circular, metal base. Arwen has taken a liking to this and for most of the week she has laid on it, I guess catching a down draft from the fan to help keep her cool.
I think those lovely green eyes are just daring me to disturb her!

One good thing I have achieved is to dispose of the ironing pile. It is probably an indication that we have too many clothes, but also down to the fact that we are both happy to be around the house in un-ironed T-shirts and dresses, (modern fabrics make that nothing like as bad as it sounds!), I actually only get the iron out once a month if that, so the pile does mount up. But with a fan at my back, and music in my ears, I set to and did it all yesterday, which does give me a strange feeling of achievement.

I had a nice parcel arrive on Wednesday too. I am not really a trouser person, especially during the summer, but it is quite difficult to find ordinary 'day dresses' that are not either sweeping the floor, or miles above the knee, so in desperation I trawled the net, and eventually ordered two dresses. That was back in early June. I foolishly thought they might arrive before my trip to UK at the beginning of July. They didn't! Instead I got a message to say they had been popular and were now out of stock, but more would be arriving on 28th June. Two weeks ago I had a message to say they had been dispatched, and this week they finally arrived. I have to say I am really pleased with them.
I expect some of you think that they are odd shapeless garments, but those who know me, will know that I don't wear anything fitted. Loose and airy is my choice, and these are made of soft floaty fabric, and in another month or so, when I want a short sleeve again, they will be just perfect. And of course one is poppies, so that sold it to me on its own!

Once a month I make a Christmas card to enter in the Rudolph Day Challenge. It is on the 25th of each month, and we are just encouraged to share a Christmas item we have made. I had set myself the target of making on average twelve Christmas cards each month this year, to save the last minute panic we all have in December. So when I put this week's card in my box, I had a quick count to see how many I have made so far, and it was only 45 - just half of my target for end of July, so I decided I had better do a big run of them. I find making too many all the same gets a bit boring, so I chose a variety of digi stamps that I bought just this week from a company called Lili of the Valley. They have just released their new Christmas range of stamps etc. I printed each one out several times, and for the last two nights I have made a start on colouring some of them with my alcohol ink pens. I have finished ten so far, and when I have coloured them all, I will have twenty-five toppers ready to make into cards. That will give my tally so far, a nice boost.

I have also managed to do a little bit of crochet work. I am glad I got my big Sophie blanket finished. I couldn't do with that on my lap in this heat. But a while ago I also started a blanket that is made up of squares which are much easier to handle. The pattern is designed by Zelna Oliver, and consists of two large squares and ten smaller ones, plus two bonus designs. Each one has the name of a South African beach, and the whole project is called Winter seaside Blanket. I just do an odd square now and then, with the aim of doing two of each design and then deciding what size I want the finished piece to be. So today I spread them all out and was surprised to find I have almost enough for a lap blanket. I chose ten colours and use them in a random order for each square with a sandy, neutral colour for all the edges to bring it all together. A lot of the squares need to be blocked to help them all lay flat, but I think it will look nice when it is all done.
And that really is it for this week. I have one more week of relative peace, though we are forecast another little heat wave with 38º from next Tuesday! And then my visitors arrive - ten of them for one week! It will be wonderful having so many family here together, but I suspect it will also be exhausting! Then we have just one visitor for the rest of August, which will seem quite quiet again.
So I will now link up with Rocking Your World, and Annie's Friday Smiles, and see you all again next week.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Rocking Your Wold 2017; Week 29

Well I had better warn you that this week's post is a bit photo heavy, so I will keep the description to a minimum. It is a continuation from last week, sharing bits of the fiesta that we enjoyed, and I will say here that although most of the photos are my own, a few are taken from the Town Hall's own site. Their official photographer is good, and sometimes get better photo opportunities than I do.

So we will start with last Friday night. After writing my blog, I went into town to watch the children do their traditional dancing. They are a new dance school run by a couple of young girls, so most of the members are very young, but they put on an excellent show, and one or two are real characters and kept us all smiling throughout their performance.
After the evening entertainment there is always an hour or so break while the night time musicians set up, do sound checks etc, and it is fun to sit around on the plaza, with a drink and a tapa if you want one, and just watch the people milling around. There is always such a happy atmosphere at the fiesta.
I like to look up through the lights and lanterns as the sky darkens. They are so pretty.
Temperatures have definitely been in the upper thirties this week, and Saturday was so, so hot!. They even cancelled one event with the small children, we assume because it was scheduled for the hottest part of the afternoon. However we had planned to go an event and am glad we made ourselves leave the relative cool of the house to go, because it was such fun. We only had to walk to the next street to Simon's bar, where a huge green net across the street formed a tunnel of shade. Along each side there were pierced hose that kept us sprayed with a fine mist. We hadn't had lunch - the heat kind of saps your appetite, so we started with a drink and tapa. This was my healthy lunch Spanish style - tomatoes with olives and garlic, and of course, bread.
As everyone was finishing eating I saw this large contraption being wheeled to one end of the 'tunnel'. Do you know what it is?
It is a foam machine and what fun it was. The children had mostly come prepared and soon stripped off to their swimming costumes, and before long, soft soapy foam was being pumped into an area for them to play in. Some needed a bit of coaxing to get involved, but soon everyone was enjoying it.
When the children were growing tired and parents were taking them home, the machine was turned up a notch and it was time for the adults to take the plunge. I didn't hesitate of course!
It felt lovely, so soft and cool, and the solution had a stabiliser in it, because it didn't disintegrate for a while. Then a friend asked Chris to come in too, so he could take a photo of them, and they in turn took one of us.
Every now and then the machine was turned off to rest, and I thought it had finished so I was turning back to the bar when suddenly a huge wall of foam came right over me. I have to admit I panicked a bit. I hate having anything over my face, and when I breathed I was breathing in foam. I was quite disorientated and I shouted at Chris to clear my face, but he laughed and just went on videoing me. Men!
But it was all in good fun. Then the party got a bit boisterous with water pistols and water bombs being aimed at folk so we were all soaked through by the time we went home. But at least we were cool!

Sunday night was the main fiesta; the actual day for our patron saint, Virgen del Carmen, so at 8.00 there was a mass in her honour on the plaza. Many of the villagers dress up for this and I love to see them in their beautiful dresses. All the tiny children run around in 'Flamenco style' clothes, even babies in pushchairs are often dressed up.
And the older girls look stunning. This was one of my favourites from the dresses I saw this year.
Not everyone participates in the mass, but there are a lot who do, and others who sit or stand around the edge to watch. It begins when the statue of the Saint is carried down from the church to the plaza, accompanied by the town band, and a procession of villagers.
The choir are already in place on the stage - wearing bright red dresses this year. Once the statue is in place, a long line of folk queue to give a flower tribute to her, and these are placed around her 'throne' and on a cart at the side.
To give you an idea of how many people were there, this was my view from where I was standing towards the back.
And here is the opposite view taken from on the stage.
The mass is led by our village priest who is a lovely man. I listen to his talk and am often surprised by how much I can understand.
As it ended we slipped away to find a quieter spot and indulge in my own fiesta tradition of a mojito in a quiet bar. Yum-yum!
And so the sun set on another fiesta. 
The music continued for one last night, ending around 7-00 on Monday morning. Because the Saint's day fell on a Sunday, Monday was also a Red day (or public holiday), so no-one had to get up for work, but by night-fall, most of the rides were packed up and ready to roll, the bars were dismantled, and the rubbish lorries were out clearing the streets. Now you would never know it had happened.

A couple of other things have happened this week. After our 'foam fun' Chris suggested we get away from the noise for the evening and he took me to a lovely Italian restaurant on the edge of Mojacar, and we had an excellent meal, - all the better for being unexpected.

On Wednesday I had a follow-up appointment at the hospital for my arthritic shoulders, and because I had been tardy about booking a translator, I had to wing it myself. It went really well. The doctor had a smattering of English, so between us we had a good chat. She was concerned about my swollen knuckles, and lack of mobility in my neck, so she has referred me to the rheumatoid arthritis consultant just to check. She also prescribed some better pain killers for me so it was a very positive session.

Earlier in the week, we booked our flights to UK in October so I can have a family party for my 70th birthday. And I am then going on to spend a few days with my sisters down South, and then bringing my sister Jean back with me for a week, so lots to look forward to there.

Today I went to the ferreteria and bought an 'industrial strength' fan for my craft room. It is doing its best to blow me out the window right now, but it is lovely and cool.

And finally, here is an update on the new roundabout at the front of the village. The men pulled out all the stops to get it finished before the fiesta, and very smart it looks too.
We now have a wide, safe crossing, governed by traffic lights, to get us across the busy main road, so as soon as it is a little cooler we will be walking the dogs that way in the mornings.
The village name is mounted at both ends of the oval, and there are eight tall lights keeping it visible. There are a group of hibiscus plants between each pair of olive trees, which are already in flower, and where the road divides into lanes, the new little islands are covered in artificial grass - just visible at the right of my photo. It all looks very good and the traffic is moving well around it, so job well done!

And that's it for this week. So I will link up with Annie's Friday Smiles and Rocking Your World. Thank you for staying with me for this marathon. I'll see you all again next week.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Rocking Your World: Week 28


This is going to be a short and sweet post as it has been so  hot here this week that I have done as little possible. Also it is Fiesta week in our village, so from tea-time onwards, it is very noisy with three main sources of music all vying with one another to be the loudest, and they don't stop until at least 6.00 a.m. the next morning. With being away in UK for a week, we had not realised how close to the fiesta we were, but on the first morning we were back, our usual route out of the village was temporarily blocked by this lorry.
The man is busy putting up the lights that are strung across all the streets. Of course, now the fiesta has started they do look very pretty. This is a particularly colourful one this year.
Wednesday was the first night, when for a few hours, all the fairground rides are a bit cheaper for the children, so there were lots of young families milling around. We went over for an hour or two, and although not all the stalls are open on that night, there was still a good crowd out to enjoy it.
We will be going over later tonight to watch the local school of dancing children doing their traditional Flamenco display. And there will be other things to enjoy over the weekend, ending with a big open-air mass on Sunday evening.

With rather disturbed nights we have been making sure we have a siesta in the afternoon, though some days it has been too hot to laze outside. The pool is a welcome way to cool down around midnight, and the aircon makes the bedroom bearable even though we turn it off when we go to bed. This is the only week all year that we sleep with the bedroom windows closed, but we do have the ceiling fan on all night to keep the air moving.

During July and August, most of the usual groups and clubs have a break, so we have some time to catch up on all the jobs that have been left undone for months. So this week, Chris has drastically pruned a tree in the corner of our yard, and while he was cutting, I was shredding it to make it easier to dispose of all the branches. Then yesterday we tackled the small back strip of yard outside the kitchen door, and moved a tall plastic storage shed from the far end, up to the middle to stand next to one that was already in place there. Of course this meant emptying it and sorting through everything. We found ancient tins of paint and varnish, tail ends of garden treatments, a box of light bulbs and one of string. We worked on the premise that anything we haven't used since we arrived over nine years ago, can probably be disposed of! The second shed is used to house the boxes of dog food, and also all my plastic boxes and containers that I can never quite throw away. But I sorted those out too and did manage to dispose of two carrier bags full, so we now have two tidy cupboards, and a much neater yard.
Recently we bought three other storage units, similar to the big ones but only half height which run all along the wall of the house now to store big cooking pans, electrical 'gadgets' and anything else that I struggled to find a home for in the kitchen. So the yard is really my extended kitchen and everything is much easier to access now, so I am pleased with it.
This yard strip becomes much narrower at the front end, where it runs alongside the side of our garage, and the cupboard we moved had been used as a barrier across this while the dogs were puppies. They don't need that now, so we were happy to move it. There is still a low fence panel across there, and as soon as it is cool enough to work out there again, we are going to remove it, and a few of the crazy-paving blocks, and plant a couple of climbing flowers to hopefully ramble across the garage door.
The only other thing of note that I have managed this week, is to make a double batch of piccalilli and one batch of hot chili and ginger jam! Chris said I was mad to attempt it in this heat, but I have several orders for both, and I had promised to try and get some made. For the piccalilli, all the vegetables have to be cut up and left to soak in salt overnight, before they are rinsed and cooked, so I sat out in the porch all evening peeling and chopping. It is actually fairly quick and easy to finish it off the next day. The chili and ginger one has quite a lot of garlic in it too and it makes the kitchen smell for days afterwards. But my cupboard is well stocked now and supplies should last until the Autumn.

Most months I make a card to enter in the Butterfly Challenge, and as I won this challenge a few months back, I was asked to be a guest designer for one challenge, so this week was my time. The challenge was to make a card with at least one butterfly on it, and using the themes of M for Matching pair, and/or the colour Orange peel. I wanted a cheerful card to send to someone, so that is what I made. This was my design, and you can read more about it on my craft blog by clicking here.
And that is it for this week. It is time now to get some tea and head over for the dancing. Virginia is taking a couple of weeks off, so I am just linking up with Annie's Friday Smiles for this week.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Rocking Your World 2017: Week 27


Hi folk. I'm back after a whirlwind week in UK. What a happy week it was, and here's the reason why. Son number four - Jonathan with his new wife Ella, both looking so happy, as every bride and groom should.

 More about the happy day later, but now we have had the event I can share some of the things I have been busy making for them over the past few months.

It isn't easy when you are many miles apart, but we shared ideas by e-mail and eventually settled on an art-deco design in gold on a black  background. I was determined to make them whatever they chose but I admit I was a bit daunted when they said black, but it really did turn out very nicely. This was the basic pattern.
The design was cut from gold vinyl, and I cut nearly 100 of them on my silhouette cameo machine. Before I could use transfer tape to put them onto the black base cards, all the unwanted areas had to be weeded out. There were 110 pieces to remove from each one! I used one of my favourite fonts called Yana, to put the word "Invitation" across the centre of each one. Then I printed the inserts in black on white heavy paper, some for those who were invited for the whole day, and a different one for those who were invited to just the evening party.

Next I used the cameo design software to stretch the design to fit the front cover of a guest book with a plain black cover that I managed to buy from ebay, and I replaced the word "Invitation", with "Guest Book" They had a sort of polaroid camera so the guests could take their photo and stick it in the book with their good wishes. it was a fun idea until the camera gave up, and the last few had to just write for them.

To complete this trio I made a matching post box for their cards. I knew it needed to be quite big for this, and fortunately I found an old box from an Amazon delivery, that I was able to alter and cover in black card. This time I had to stretch the design quite a bit, but it still worked, and the couple told me what words they wanted on it. I added a roof with a generous slit in it, and decorated both slopes, and the sides with simple art-deco frames.
Finally came the favour boxes to go on the table for the lunch time meal. I made a few different designs for them to choose from and fortunately they chose the best one for me, because I could cut them out and decorate them, and pack them flat to go in my suitcase. So when we arrived Ella and I spent an evening assembling them, and popping  a little bag of jelly beans in to each one.
We soon had all seventy of them filled and closed up, ready to be delivered to the venue the next day.
There wasn't a lot we could do to help them before the day, so it was nice that I was able to make these, and they were very well received, so it was all worth while.

The actual wedding was on Sunday, which was quite unusual, but they couldn't have chosen a better day. There were a few fluffy clouds in the morning, but by midday they had gone and it was bright sunshine right through to the evening. Some folks even had to resort to using sunscreen.

The venue was beautiful - an old country house called Sweeney Hall in Oswestry, Shropshire, where they both grew up. It was set in lovely grounds with several separate areas of grass and flower beds, and lots of comfy outdoor seating. We were among the first to arrive so I took the opportunity to take some photos before there were too many people around. Next week I may have some more official photos to share, with the actual guests in them!
This is Sweeney Hall.
On the lower lawn there was seating under a pergola, and this is where they said their vows. Ella arrived on her dad's arm to the music of Jane's Addiction! Jonathan plays drums in three heavy  metal groups, and that is the type of music they like.
She looked radiant in a white dress with a lace overlay. It was almost backless but was joined at the waist and neck with silver buttons in the shape of skulls. She also wore a bracelet of skulls! Her bouquet was slightly goth style with dark plum calla lilies and blue sea thistles. Jonathan had a dark plum suit with a black shirt and tie. It is a long way from weddings as they used to be, but suited them perfectly.

The registrar was a lovely man with a great sense of humour. He made several jokes, and really made the ceremony such fun.

Over to the side of the pergola, there was an archway with a high flowering rose around it, and we all took a turn to have our photos taken by it. Even Chris and I did.
While this was being taken, there was a tractor herding sheep in the field to our left!
We all sat outside to enjoy a cocktail after the ceremony, and then we all went back down to the seats for our oldest son Jim (who is a vicar) to say a few extra words. Then there was a brief interlude before the meal so I popped into the marque to have a look, and it was stunning.
You can just see several glass baubles hanging from each blossom tree, which each had a battery operated tea-light in it. Also the black section of the ceiling was threaded with tiny fairy lights like stars, so it was really pretty by the time the evening party was underway. I did take a photo, but it didn't come out too well.
Now for a couple of group photos that I am pleased with. The first is of our oldest son with his wife and three children. They are all rather camera shy so it is very rare to get a picture of them all smiling like this.
Needless to say, the second one is of Chris and I with our five boys (I should probably say men now, but they will always be our boys to me). My prescription glasses are reactolights, which I need in the bright sun out here, but unfortunately it means they are quite dark in most of the photos. But I love this line up all the same.

And now for a couple of other happy moments from our week away. After two days in Manchester, staying with Jonathan and Ella, we left them to do their final preparations and moved on to stay with Ben in Birmingham. As you must know from earlier posts, he is our youngest son who sings and plays the piano. He has just invested in some very complex equipment, I think he called it a midi file controller, that enables him to play his music on the keyboard and the controller plays it in a variety of instruments. The piano sounds amazing, but in this picture he is demonstrating the brass family to me. Each colour light section plays a different instrument, and they blend together as though he is playing in a brass band. It is all clever stuff, and I can see he is going to have loads of fun 'playing' with it.
Ben does shift work and happened to be off on Thursday so he drove up to Manchester to collect us. We all walked round to a lovely bar/restaurant for some lunch before driving back, and we spotted this on the patio. It did make me smile.
And I will leave you there for this week. Now to link up with Annie's Friday Smiles and Rocking Your World, and I will be back with more, next week.