Kate's adventures

Friday, January 19, 2018

Rocking your World 2018; Week 3

Well here is something that really made me smile this week. As I was walking across a patch of campo to the medical centre in our village, I spotted this almond tree in full blossom. Now it may be a bit confused by the unseasonably warm days we have been enjoying, but to me, this is a herald of Spring, and I am sure we are all happy to think that Winter is ending and Spring will come again. I am sure we have some pretty dire weather still to come, but when it is raining outside, I will look at this picture and think "It is a promise of better things to come".

I wish I could say that I am now fighting fit again but unfortunately I still haven't shaken this bug completely so I have not left the house any more than necessary all week, so apart from a fair bit of crafting, I have not done a lot.

However, I did manage to get to church on Sunday morning, and although it was chilly, I wrapped up warm, and it was good to see friends again after what seems like a very long time. We were celebrating because on January 11th it was the third anniversary of our little church. And what a long way we have come in that time. From a small group of 12-20 people, we now average forty people each week, and we have a thriving team of leaders. We have worked together in the community to raise money for our own running costs and local charities, we serve the community through regular donations to the food bank, and we run weekly home groups, as well as sharing special occasions, often ending these with a community meal.

We have a very exciting event coming up next month. We are part of the Costa Almeria and Costa Calida Chaplaincy, which has four small churches, very spread out across the parish which extends from Murcia one way to Roquettas del Mar the other, and  inland as far as Granada, and next month we welcome a new full time priest after more than a year of short term locums. They have all been wonderful, but it will be good to have someone permanently in place, to give continuity to all we do. We are excited because our little chapel at Llanos del Peral has been chosen for the installation service of Rev.Vincent and his wife Robyn Ann. The Archdeacon of Gibraltar will be coming to lead the service, and all four churches from the Chaplaincy will be represented. And what better way to welcome the priest and his wife into our community than with a bring and share lunch. It will be what we refer to as a "posh buffet", and will need to be finger food as there will not be space to have everyone seated, but I am sure we will all come up with something tasty to take along.

Now, as I said, I have mostly occupied myself this week with various crafty activities. I decided that I have too many projects on the go, and I needed to finish some of them, so this week I finished the red jacket I have been knitting with wool I bought at Hobbycraft when I visited my sister in the Autumn last year. 
I am pleased with the way it has turned out. It is nice and long as I wanted, and the pockets are useful. The varegations in colour in the wool have made a good random pattern. It is a long time since I knitted an adult garment, as it seemed to pull on my shoulders last time, but this wool is described as chunky but it is soft and light, and I tried the bamboo needles for the first time, and I think they really did help. Anyway I am wearing it today, and it is nice and cosy.

Next I turned my attention to a smallish lap blanket that I started working on last year on days when I found my big Sophie blanket too heavy and too hot to handle. I just had one square to finish off and then I laid them out on our bed to arrange them and I have now crocheted them all together. So here it is so far. I now need to work a fairly strong, wide border around it and it too will be done.
The pattern was called Seaside Winter Blanket, and was designed by Zelna Oliver, from South Africa, and each square is named after an African beach. So I decided to use a palette of sea, sand and sky colours, with five shades of blue, two of yellow, white, silver and to link them all together a sandy neutral shade called parchment.
Here is a close-up of one section to show some of the textures and patterns included in the design. 

I lost my mojo a bit while I was feeling so rough, so this week I really wanted to get back down to my craft room and do some papercraft. So I chose something easy to start with, using images and papers from a Christmas craft CD, and I made a set of Christmas cards to start next years stash off. I can't show them here because they are for a blog challenge next week. Now I need to think about some birthday cards needed in February, but I also have set myself the goal of finishing my Irish holiday scrapbook, so hopefully I will soon be back into the swing of things.

I will finish with a funny story that I forgot to include last week, but it made us both chuckle. We have had some lovely days in January with plenty of sun even though last week it stayed quite cool. So I made the most of this and got the washing done and hung out to dry. Unfortunately I was busy inside and did not notice that a fierce wind had got up, so when I went to check if the washing was dry, I found several items scattered around the yard. I rescued these, but my long-sleeved white tee-shirt and a short-sleeved one had gone over the back railings and were lodged in the dried grass and branches that form the steep bank down into the green zone behind the house. I called for Chris to assist me. He doesn't like me to climb over the railings as there is little ground that it is safe to stand on, but he went over and managed to retrieve the nearest shirt but the other one was out of reach. He found an old metal pole that used to hold the TV aerial way above the house, and with that he went fishing. Each time he 'caught' my shirt and began to lift it, it fell off even further down, which had us both giggling away. But eventually he got enough of it wrapped around the pole to lift it up, and then it looked likely to end up on the roof. But I held it steady while he climbed back over the railings and slowly he fed the end of the pole down the slope, until I could reach up and unhook my shirt. Needless to say, it needed another round in the washing machine, but at least it was undamaged. I'll have to double peg everything next time.

Unlike last week, this week has been warm as well as sunny. We have had temperature as high as 23º some days which is wonderful. It only lasts like that for a few hours, using reaching its highest by 11.00 and starting to cool again by 4.00, but it has been pleasant enough to sit out on the porch for an hour or so, though I am still wearing several layers of clothes which is not like me at all. In the evening it is still very cold, (Not by UK standards I know, but our houses are draughty, stone-floored and not many have any form of central heating). So we continue to close the windows and shutters at tea-time and turn on the fire, so at least the main room is cosy to sit in for the evenings.

And lastly here is a photo, not taken by me. I believe it is attributed to Richard Shanley. Our local radio station has a Facebook page, and it has been running a series of photos, sent in by the general public, called "The real Spain", and this was the sunrise over Mojacar coast on Tuesday this week. Isn't it beautiful? There is no getting away from the fact that a blue sky to start the day, does start you off feeling good, even when the grey clouds gather later on.
So now I just need to link up with Annie's Friday Smiles and Rocking Your World. Join us and look for your own silver linings this week.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Rocking Your World 2018; Week 2

I can't believe we are almost half-way through January, and I blinked and missed it! But here we are at Friday again, and as last week, I have very little to write about. But there have been some silver linings so let's see what we have.

Well, last week my smile was a box of seville oranges gifted to me for marmalade, so this week's smile has to be this mini-mountain of sugar to go with them.

I have a friend who is very active in the Lions Club in Vera. As most of their events take place on a Sunday, I am unable to support many of them, but we have worked together on some projects, so when she was offered a lot of out-of-date preserving sugar at a ridiculously low price, she thought of me and my jam-making for charity. It comes from an English food shop that is closing down, and it is properly clean and dry, free flowing, and still poly-wrapped in trays of ten x 1 kg packets. So the date does not concern me, especially as it is boiled to death anyway when you make jam. I wouldn't usually pay the extra for preserving sugar, but this was too good an opportunity to miss. I said I would take 20 kg, but she caught me when I was not at my best, and somehow I ended up with twice that amount! So I am now well set up for a good few jam making sessions! I have already used some in another batch of marmalade, and tomorrow I hope to use the rest of the oranges before they 'turn'. I have offered some of the sugar to the lady at church who also makes jam for our stall, and I am waiting to hear back from her, but either way, I am sure it will get used eventually.

Also last week, I mentioned that we had walked across to the plaza to see the children receive their gifts from the three kings, but it was chilly and we didn't stay out for long. The next day, Saturday, I had agreed to meet two friends there, for the Three Kings Fiesta. I was still far from well, but this is my favourite fiesta so I didn't want to miss it. Sadly it was a grey, damp day, the first time it has not been sunny for this occasion since we came out here. I was still full of cold, so I wrapped up well in a thick fleece jacket that I brought out with me ten years ago, but have never worn out here. We met up with our friends and joined the crowd that had gathered around the set of King Herod's palace, on the plaza.
As you can see, there were plenty of coats and scarves in use. We don't have too many really bad days, but the Spanish do not like being cold, and they dress up far more in the Winter than the English do. The crowd was also much thinner than usual, but they don't usually let the weather stop a celebration, and soon the King was on his throne, addressing his guards regarding the 'new born king'.
By the time the Wise men rode in on their horses to make their own enquiries, the rain had started and umbrellas appeared throughout the crowd.
It was too cold to stand around for the whole story re-enactment, so we went to a local bar for a hot drink. Then we decided to buy something at one of the food tents and take our friends back with us to eat lunch at our house.

There is always some free food provided at the fiestas, and at this one it is usually migas, which is not the most popular. (It is a type of flour and water paste, cooked until it can be chopped up into little pieces, with cloves of garlic and little sausages in it). But this year it was the much more popular tortilla. This is basically egg, potato and onion mixed and cooked in a huge trough over a wood fire. It is then cut into large slices and served in baguettes. Normally we would have waited for a slice of this, but I had had enough by then, and just wanted to go home. The rain had stopped for a bit, and there were some small patches of blue sky, so we did stand and watch the men pouring the egg mix into the tray, but it would have been another hour before it was ready to eat, so we left them to it. (Halfway through the cooking, a lid is fitted over the trough, and it is rotated through 180º so it can cook from the other side as well).
Behind the men, the colourful heap of material is a big bouncy castle that had to be deflated until the rain stopped. Children were eagerly hopping around waiting for it to rise up again.

I probably would have been better off staying home that day, because the next day I had a relapse and ended up in bed for nearly all of Sunday. Since then I have been very gradually improving. I haven't left the house again all week, but today, Chris took me for essential food shopping. At least I coped with that, though I was glad to be home again. So tonight I had to miss our first choir practice of the new season. I was very disappointed but hopefully I will be able to join in next week. We are starting to work on the music for our Royal Albert Hall Concert in November, so I need to be there if I can.

But like most things, there is a silver lining to being housebound for a week or two. For one thing I have enjoyed reading a trilogy of books about life in the Liverpool docks area just after the war, and the lives of a group of young ladies who had come to the teaching hospital nearby to train as nurses. It is a similar era to 'Call the Midwife'. If that sounds like your sort of story, look for the "Lovely Lane Series" by Nadine Dorries. I recommend them for easy and enjoyable reading.

I have also made a good start on a new crochet project to make another afghan. I follow a lady called Lucy of Attic 24. She does amazing crochet and recently she launched a new Crochet ALong, called  Autumn Woodland Walk, which is a ripple pattern in a wonderful array of autumn colours. I love the colour palette but knew I shouldn't attempt another all-in-one blanket. They are just too heavy for me to hold. But her previous CAL was called Summer Harmony  Blanket, and it was made up of 100 little squares in bright and sunny colours, and some paler ones for contrast. So I set myself the task of combining these two projects. The little squares appealed to me as being easy to hold, but I prefer the autumn colours. So I got out my colour pegs that I use for choosing a palette for any project, and lined up pegs for her summer colours. I divided them into cooler colours, mid-tones, brights and darks. Then I found the pegs for the autumn colours and lined them up alongside the summer ones until I felt I had a reasonable correlation between them. Here are my autumn colours ready to use.

For the summer blanket, Lucy had provided charts for each round of each colour, and it proved confusing to try and work from those in my new colours, so yesterday, after a quick tutorial on using Open Office from my husband, I manged to 'find and replace' each shade with my new one, so I now have the charts in autumn colours.
The way it works is that you take each colour in turn (17 of them) and make six round one squares. Then you place all 17 balls in front of you, and using the first chart, you place six different coloured centres on each one, and use that ball to work round two of each square. Here are some of mine when they had been sorted, and one ball where the second rounds have been worked.
Then you repeat this using the next chart for round three. So, for example, the six squares in my photo with 'mocha' for their second round, will each have a different colour for round three. It sounds complicated, but with a decent system in place, and Lucy's excellent charts, it is actually quite straight forward. And you end up with 100 (102 if you've done the maths, but you discard 2) squares that are all unique, and Lucy has even given us a chart to show how they are all placed to make up the blanket. I love the colours, but I can't be sure that my choices are right, and I am looking forward to finding out how it all comes together.
There was one new colour in the range that I needed for this, a pale shade of blue-green called lincoln, so I sent an order off last Friday to Wool Warehouse in UK, and my parcel arrived yesterday. They are a wonderful company to trade with and their service is always prompt, but that was even faster than I had expected. So last night I made the missing green centres, and now I am about halfway through the second rounds. I am sure you will be seeing it again when I get further on into the project. By the way, in case you were wondering, I work my ends in as I go along, so there won't be hundred of tails to sew in at the end.
In the same order as the wool, I ordered a set of lovely red buttons for the jacket I am knitting. I am on the last piece now so soon there will just be the sewing up and front ribbings to do. I didn't feel like working on this while I was not well, but now I am a bit better, I want to get it finished, while it is still cold enough to wear it.
Well that's it for this week, so I will pop over to Virginia's blog and link up with Rocking your World, and then over to Annie's blog for her Friday Smiles. Do join us if you want something to smile at, and share your own happy moments too.