Friday, October 14, 2016

Rocking Your World 2017: Week 42

I'm starting off today with a little gem that keeps cropping up on my Facebook page. It creases me up, because if they have reached the 'age of reason' I am sure this is what a child would be thinking.

We are all a bit obsessed with our cameras these days, and I am one of the worst culprits, so I can relate to this.

And so to my week. Virginia says the weeks seem to be passing ever more faster, and I was think exactly the same thing. But once again mine got off to a good start with a birthday party for a friend from church who had reached a 'significant number'. We were invited to a restaurant out on the campo near Huércal-Overa. It was a good thing she gave us all clear directions or we would never have found it. It was a very pleasant setting. I started off sitting indoors, because our friends Sue and Andy were playing piano and clarinet to entertain us.
It was quite warm, so  lots of folk chose to stay outside, where everywhere was lit up by green lights, giving it an interesting atmosphere.
Later in the evening, everyone was called indoors and we were given a glass of cava (sparkling wine).
Jasmine's sister and brother-in-law had travelled all the way over from Nova Scotia to celebrate her birthday with her, so Terry got up to propose a toast.
Our wonderful cake-baking friend Pat had again made a beautiful cake which Jasmine cut, and we all enjoyed a slice, despite being full from the lovely  buffet that had been provided earlier.
When I went outside to chat with friends I had to take a quick picture of this beautiful sunset that blessed the proceedings.

Although all three cats have got used to using the cat flap now, Tango doesn't like it and whenever possible he waits for me to open the other door to the porch, and goes out through the much larger dog flap. But he is happy to share some space with the dogs, who by and large ignore him, and the other morning when I went out, I found him posing by the water feature. He goes there to drink from it even though there are always bowls of fresh water in the kitchen and hall. But he looked so cute sitting there among the flowers. The kalanchoes we planted on either side have flowered continuously, and they are a bright shocking pink.

Also bright pink is the small bougainvillea that we bought for a couple of euros, several years ago, because it was little more than a dead stick. But gradually it has grown and is now getting established. The mauve one is the common type that grows like a weed everywhere, but I love this deep magenta version and am so pleased to see it finally taking off. We planted it just beyond our railings because the path is very narrow there, but we will soon be able to tie it in all the way along.

A few weeks ago I showed our mauve bougainvillea that grows all along the side of house. Chris had 'pruned it' to withing an inch of its life, and just the bare bones were left. Well I told you it was a vigorous grower, and just look at it now.
All that growth in just three weeks. Think what it can do in three months!

As well as our friend Jasmine, Chris and I are both celebrating our birthdays in the next few days. Chris is seventy tomorrow, but we are keeping it very low key as the real celebration will be at the end of next week when we meet up with all our sons and their partners. And Saturday is not the best day to go out so we decided to go for a quiet lunch out today instead. And look what we had! Good old fish and chips. How very British of us! Though you may note that it is October and we are still sitting outside to eat, and there is a glass of wine on the table, so not quite so British after all! It was very nice too.

Just as I started to write this I heard Arwen just outside the door making an odd noise, so I went out to investigate and found her playing with this little chap. Isn't he just so cute. He is only an inch or so long. I had to rescue him. He was a bit sleepy, maybe geckos hibernate. I have no idea. Or maybe he was just shocked after his encounter with Arwen. But he seemed unharmed, and was certainly very much alive, so I put him in our bedroom near the window, where I have seen him before, and left him to his own devices.
We have had some very unsettled weather this week and there is a definite Autumnal chill in the air early on, when we go out with the dogs. There has been a lot of cloud which has given us some very colourful skies.

I am going to show you some more in a minute because they will be the last for a couple of weeks. Yes I am going AWOL. For almost a year we have had a holiday booked for the half-term week, 23rd-30th October. We have rented a large house in Southern Ireland, where Chris' mum was born, and where he was taken for summer holidays with his grandma when he was a boy. All five of our sons are joining us with their partners, and we are going to have a lovely family week to celebrate Chris' seventieth. We were unable to book flights on the day we wanted, so we were going to fly to our son in Birmingham on Sunday night, and then on to Ireland the next morning.
Three weeks ago I said we had heard of another death in the family, but I expected the funeral to be quite soon so I didn't think I would be able to get to it so close to our holiday. But for various reasons the funeral was delayed and is actually going to be next Thursday, so I am now going to fly to UK on Wednesday and stay with my sister Jean for a few days, and then I can get the train up to our son's house on Sunday and be there when my husband flies in. So I am grateful for the way things have worked out, and happy that I will be seeing some of my sisters again, albeit for a sad occasion.
This does mean that I will not be able to write a post next Friday, and the following one will also not be possible. So I will be back on 5th November, hopefully with lots of photos of Ireland. You have been warned!!
I love taking photos, but after some hard thinking I realise that at this stage in my life, I have neither the time not inclination to learn the intricacies of my big camera. Also I am finding it too heavy to carry around on days out. My shoulders soon start to protest if I hang anything on them for too long. I get very acceptable pictures with the camera on my phone, but that is getting a little tired, and sometimes refuses to focus, or the pictures are very dark. So I have just ordered a very good (I hope) compact digital camera. Hopefully it will be light to carry, and easy to use. It is going to arrive on Monday which is my birthday, so that is a happy coincidence, and I will have a holiday to play around with it.
So now here are the rest of this weeks sky photos, all taken on one evening. The black clouds were rolling in and it looks quite menacing. I can see all sorts of things in these pictures, but I won't point them out. I'll leave it to your imagination to spot things for yourself. The sky continued to darken and the next morning we woke up to heavy rain, which then settled into a steady rain for most of the morning. It was actually rather nice to smell the damp earth, and seeing some of the ever-present dust being damped down. Goodness knows we needed it, so it really is another thing to be grateful for this week.

Now I shall try to publish this post. Blogger is behaving very oddly tonight so I hope it co-operates. Maybe we have another storm on the way. Anyway, I shall do my best to link up with Annie's Friday Smiles, and Rocking Your World, and I shall try to visit you all before I go away.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Rocking Your World 2016:Week 41

Hi Folks. Here's a bit of nonsense to make you smile while I get my head in order. You may need to be from UK to really understand it. (Sorry about the colours. That's how it was on facebook).

Well this week got off to a good start because Sunday was our Harvest Festival, and that has always been one of my favourite services. I loved it as a child. The church had a very special smell on that day - a mixture of fruits and vegetables and fresh bread. Mum always made Jean and I little boxes of a selection of fruit, vegetables, and tinned goods, and later I did the same for my boys. I usually baked small fruit loaves to add, and did the boxes up so they were a balanced selection ready to be given to a needy couple in the locality. But sadly it is less common now, and until last year, I had not been to a proper Harvest for many years.
There is a team of church helpers who all live over near there, who went in on Saturday and decorated the altar area with fresh produce.
The rest of us were asked to take in dry and tinned goods that could be given to the most needy families in Zurgena, the Town hall which allows us to use our building rent free, so this is a small way in which we can show our thanks.

As we are without a vicar at the minute, we have a series of locum priests visiting us for about six weeks each. Our harvest service was led by the current locum, Rev. Kieth Kimber, who fitted in well and stayed to enjoy lunch with us afterwards.
As we so often do when it is an 'occasion', we followed the service with a Bring-and-Share lunch. There is always more than enough food for everyone, and a wide range to suit everyone's taste. A few folk chose to eat indoors, or under the shade of the porch, but most of us braved the sun, and sat around tables on the patio, though we were grateful for the large umbrellas to provide some shade. 

On Tuesday, the same team of workers went to church and divided the food into bags, offering a balance of items to make several meals for a family. They were able to deliver fourteen large bags to the Town Hall in Zurgena, which will be distributed to needy families.

This week I intend to have a little harvest of my own because I am going down into the green zone behind our house to pick pomegranates. The green zone is not very green at all after the long dry spring and summer, so the tree is looking very thin and not bonny at all, but it is still full of fruit. I took this photo from our back railings.
Zooming in, the fruit look rather like rosy apples. I picked some last year and they were lovely. It is not a fruit I would eat lots of, but it is good for us, and I can use it in my smoothie maker and the pips all just disappear.

Most of this week I have been busy finishing off blankets for my Africa Project final deadline. I think I am all squared out now. A friend is finishing off one blanket, and the rest are now all sewn together. I still have three blankets to crochet around, but I think I will get them done in time. Fortunately the weather has been lovely, still sunny and warm, but not too hot, so I have been able to sit out on the porch each afternoon and knit, sew and crochet in good daylight.

I find working the edging on a blanket puts a lot of tension on my shoulders so I can only do it for a couple of hours. Then I need a break so I come down to my craft room and do something down here, before going back to the blankets. So one thing I managed to do was to make new labels for my kitchen canisters. I had a bit of a change around as I was struggling to continually reach the canisters down from a shelf, so they are now on the counter again. I just have to be a bit tidier and keep the space clear for them. I have had the Portmerion dinner and tea services called Dusk, for many years. Sadly it is discontinued now. When I retired from the nursery in UK, they bought me lots of matching extras, and I still love it. The canisters had been in use for a long time and were looking a bit tired, so I gave them a good clean and removed the old and faded labels. Then I cut new ones from purple vinyl using my Silhouette Cameo machine. It is my newest font called Yana. I am a bit of a fontaholic and have hundreds on my computer, but I chose this one because I knew it would cut well. They look a lot better now.

I have also been working on my computer in Adobe photoshop to design calendars for my Christmas sale coming up next month. They will mostly be sold to people from church so I decided this year to illustrate lines from favourite hymns. It isn't finished yet but here is one page that is ready to print. Of course I had to use one of my sky photos somewhere in the calendar!

Yesterday evening was warm and 'soft' and we sat out in the porch until well after midnight. We have lights out there, but they are not bright enough for me do my crochet, so instead I set myself up with chopping board and knives and prepared two big bowls of vegetables. So maybe you can guess what I did this morning. Yes - I made another twenty jars of piccalilli.  (And yes Di, it is still your recipe which everyone out here loves!). So that is something else ready for my sale table.

I had a happy phone call yesterday from one of our sons, telling us about his wedding plans, so that is something to look forward to next year.
I had a chat to another son who has done some useful shopping for me - just small items that he can bring over to Ireland when we all meet up there later this month.
We have had confirmation of the house we have rented over there for the family week, and also confirmation that our house/dog sitter is booked, so that is all coming together nicely.

Earlier in the week our Home group plus extra friends had a very useful meeting to plan the way ahead. It is lovely that we are so in agreement with each other.

I have three sky photos to close with this week. The first was the sun rise taken on Monday.

The other two are the sun setting yesterday. When I went outside to give the dogs their tea I noticed these lovely rays shining up from behind the hill where the sun had already dropped from view.

By the time they had finished eating, which only takes a few minutes (!) the gold had faded and was replaced with a lovely rosy glow, but the sun rays were still visible..

Now it is time to link up with Annie's Friday Smiles and Rocking Your World, and I'll see you all next week.