Casa Rosales

Casa Rosales

Saturday, 9 August 2014

On the crest

I have always thought of my blog as a sort of diary and in my blog list, some of my very favourite bloggers have a similar approach. It means that how I feel or what is happening to me and where I go and what I do forms the focus of my posts. Sometimes things aren't always so good. Sometimes when things are not so good, I don't post. Sometimes when life is really busy, I don't have time to post. I haven't posted very much recently. And I haven't been overly busy....

But fortunately, the bad things pass and we often grown stronger as a result. 

And then not just good things happen, but really great things happen!

This week has been a great week...and I would like to share a few highlights.

Monday, FR, Ruy, Romy and I (leaving teenage son at home) set off for a day on the beach - the first this year!

We found a beautiful, uncrowded bay near Almuñecar, on the Granada coast. It was a hot but not too hot day and the sea looked incredibly inviting. But there were few people in the sea....we so hoped it wasn't a jellyfish invasion. Ruy was the first in and he didn't stay long. He reported that it was cold. Very cold. So Romy went...and she also came back and reported the same but then she and Ruy returned and went in again together. 
I was next....and oh my! It was as cold a water as I have ever been in!! This is the Mediterranean, remember, and it was as cold as the waters that come directly from the mountains. It was impossible. I managed up to waist high but couldn't, absolutely could NOT dip any further and the thought of getting my shoulders in was too much of a risk, so I retreated. FR managed up to his calves. 

The sea to himself....Ruy the brave


Apparently, the wind had changed a couple of days earlier and had brought the currents through the straits of Gibraltar and with it the cold, cold waters of the Atlantic. It made our last beach day at Scarborough seem like swimming in a warm bath....(which wasn't how we described it at the time!)












But gorgeous, it was. And Ruy and Romy had a happy hour in a hired canoe, which they enjoyed. 









Next highlight of this bright week...Sam and Dave back from Scotland!! Yes, three months have passed and they've embarked on and embraced their new lives, new jobs, new schools in what has been a sunny Scotland...but were so very glad to be back in Alcala - especially Sam. We met on Wednesday evening in the park, where Alcala had thoughtfully provided some great live music outside the beautiful library and every one was out and about and just happened to be passing to say hello. We had a lovely evening.

Then the next day, they came to us. As with all good friends, it was just as if they'd never been away and we had one of FR's memorable and initially spectacular barbecues. 









We had a naming ceremony for a small, unusual dog whose eyes light up when the sun goes down - a gift sent to me by Sam from Scotland. We weren't sure why at the time as he is, to say the least, a tad unusual, bordering on tacky but as Sam said, we think of her every evening as he lights up the garden! And she was right. His chosen name...by democratic election - managed excellently by Isobel - is Rocker. (Though for the life of me, I can't think why!)


We ate well, drank well, talked and talked and laughed a lot...(and cried a bit) and had a wonderful evening together. (And took some pretty rubbishy photos....but never mind!)

Looks like we weren't eating much - but believe me, we got through quite a lot!


And the fun didn't stop there. Last night, there was a Flamenco evening at the beautiful little square right at the top of Alcala la Real, overlooking the town and La Mota. So of course we were going! 
Amazing....

View from San Marcos ...
And yes, we met Sam, family and friends there...


A wonderful setting for a fantastic set of performances...

And the highlight of the evening for me was the performance of these two.....I cannot begin to describe the emotion and sensation they created - it's not that sort of blog....! Needless to say, they were very much appreciated by the audience and there was a lot of 'Olé's as they performed...a sign that a phrase, a sentiment and a musical delivery has really hit the spot. I even spontaneously 'Olé´d myself a couple of times...it just seemed to pop out of me!

My photo was a bit blurred so I used an app on my new tablet to give it some character....I like it!

SO, we end our week on a real crest. And I can cope with the downs in a realistic manner when the ups are so high. And I can also really enjoy the blogging bit too. And will be reading and catching up on all my lovely blogging friends' posts again very soon.....



Sunday, 27 July 2014

There and back again

Well, we're back. Back from a lovely week in England with family and friends.
I'd booked the flights in February and it wasn't until just before we were due to leave and I printed out our boarding passes that I realised we had eight days, not just a week, of holiday.  It felt fantastic!

The last time I took the children to England it was Christmas;  the weather was cold and wet; the days were short and it was dark by 4pm. This year, we were treated to eight long, glorious and sunny days; the sun didn't set until 10pm and rose again by 5am. We revelled in the rich greenery of the Cheshire and West Yorkshire countrysides. We had one short sharp thunderstorm soon after we arrived in Huddersfield which was noisy and quite spectacular and very welcome.

My sister has moved house and is now in a  beautiful old farmhouse with acres of land.. I have, in the distant past, posted about the many tractors around here, including very beautiful Lamborghini ones...and since visiting my sister, I have tractor envy. She has her own little tractor to cut the grass and of course, we had to have a go!

Here's Romy receiving instruction....

We were treated to wonderful home-cooked meals and the children and I slept in the old, almost but not quite, converted barn, all together in the same space. I fell asleep every night to the sound of laughter and silly stories and games of  'I went to market' (a memory game where each player adds something else to the list of purchases...) and just general messing around. 

We visited my parents and found them not too badly organised. Dad has just got a hoist and a new bed which helps Mum and the carer to get him in and out of bed and in and out of his chair. He looks well under the circumstances but is always anxious to speed up the time between his daily routines - often, by 3pm, he's anxious for supper and bed. 

After a couple of days relaxing, enjoying the sunshine and my sister's garden, we hired a car to visit friends in Yorkshire - sadly missing Janice by a week or so as she had returned to France, more or less with Le Tour. Check out her blog for more lovely information about this! I had arranged to meet my dear friend Karen (of Southwold Famous Five fame) in Salt's Mill in Saltaire, one of my all time favourite haunts. I'd dropped Mateo off in Huddersfield to meet some of his friends so it was just Romy, Ruy and I who went. We arrived early and I positioned myself near the entrance so that I'd see Karen when she arrived. However, there were two entrances and she managed to sneak up on me - very sneakily she did it - and caught me by surprise. We'd sort of expected a slightly tearful and emotional meeting as it's more than four years since we've seen each other, but our outburst of hysteria was unexpected! We both burst into a mixture of laughing and crying and hugging which became a mascara- and nose-dripping spectacle with my children and Karen's husband, Philip, looking on in slightly embarrassed amusement. It was perfect!

We had a lovely lunch together and lots of catching up. It's twenty five years since Salt's Mill opened and the chap in the Diner is still there, welcoming the hoards and he remembered and chatted to us as if we'd only been there last week. 

And then Karen handed me a very precious little parcel. It was Mavis - our prize pig from the Treasure Hunt we did in Southwold (see earlier link!) - who, as we were there in 1984 as I remember, is now 35 years old! 

Photo: Lovely to hand over this little pig to Annie Taylor - let's hope it's not too long before we collect her again from Spain. Bon Voyage xxxxx

After this lovely afternoon, we went to stay with my friend Marion, over in Huddersfield. Like everyone else we stayed with, Marion had prepared us some wonderful food. I did wonder whether it was because we had unconsciously been missing 'English' food but I suspect it was more the special care that people made on our behalf and we are most grateful - certainly one very direct way to our hearts. We stayed overnight and so the next morning, I was able to drop Ruy off at a friend's house and call in to see another before going to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park with Marion, her son, Ali and another friend, Clare. This is the place we visited most often from our home in Huddersfield and at the time, is where FR did his undergraduate and postgraduate degrees so we got to know it very well indeed. Sadly, the University of Leeds has closed the campus based here now and all the buildings that were home to FR showed great signs of decay and neglect...we couldn't get to see some of the older and more beautiful buildings as the grounds were roped off for visitors. I didn't honestly pay too much attention to the surroundings as I was busy enjoying my time talking to my friends but I think the children were glad to be back. Mateo took some photos on his phone and they're not brilliant but do capture some of the amazing trees there and some of the unexpected features!. 

 With Marion, Clare, Ali and Romy







When we returned to my sister's, she took us on a stunning walk around Marbury Country Park with Twigg, Cocoa and Fizz. And we had a pub lunch at the side of the Trent and Mersey Canal, where the Anderton Boat Lift is now operational again. It all seemed very civilised and organised and pretty. And that's not to say Spain isn't these things but my three words are not the first that come to mind when living in Andalucia...(Photos to follow - they're on my sister's phone and she's now in Belgium.)

The rest of the week was made up of more visits to Mum and Dad, a quick trip to the chiropractor, a shopping day at Cheshire Oaks - more because one of the cars was in for a service there - but we did get a few items and overdosed on the outrageous amount of choice of things for sale. A once in a lifetime visit, I suspect! And Ruy got some great archery practice and he and Romy were invited to hit a few balls on the Golf Course Driving Range just next door - which they enjoyed very much!

And suddenly it was Thursday and time to come home again. It was wonderful to spend time with my sister and to see my parents and so special to spend time with precious friends too. But we were ready to come home again. I always tend to say 'home' for England, but my children don't. They had a great time - and Ruy in particular, had a brilliant day with his friends, including catching his first fish - but Alcala is their home and they were ready to return. And that was a good feeling too.

After a goodbye and utterly indulgent meat-and-potato pie meal at my parents'.....
Photo: Mum's meat and potato pie....mmmm

...we pootled back to the airport and climbed aboard our plane home with some satisfaction. 

And at the other end, FR was waiting for us with a lovely picnic and the beach bag prepared for a late night dip in the Med! Don't ask me why I didn't take any photos of my two brave children swimming in the sea at 10.30 as I have no excuse, just as I have no excuse for not having a photo of Karen and I in our emotional meeting. But these things are firmly fixed in my mind's eye and you'll just have to believe me that they are wonderful!

So, we've been there and we've come back again. Not story of Hobbits or dragons but a journey, along the way of which we all made a few discoveries, found many things to make us feel grateful and felt the pleasure of returning home again. 

And that is no bad thing. 

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Here, there and everywhere

It's been busy, busy, busy for our family recently. And in a good way for the main part.

Since our visit to the Medieval Market a few weeks ago, we've had a visit to Valladolid to see FR's parents. Their Golden Wedding anniversary was actually on 10th June, the same day my own parents got married, but school hadn't finished and so the celebration was postponed for a few weeks. However, travelling there and back created a couple of problems..

I knew I would have to come back early in order to continue my teaching course - it simply wasn't possible to postpone or reschedule the classes - so I had a ticket booked to travel back on the Monday...only realising too late that once I arrived back in Alcala, I was transport-less! However, right next to the bus station, there's a little hire car office and they did me a good deal on a cute little car that would get me to and from work without problem. First problem sorted.

Pippin was my other main concern. No way was I going to leave him behind, nor did I want to put him in kennels. I wanted him to come with us. He has a problem, though, with car sickness. We can't even get the 7kms to the vet's without him throwing up! This is a journey of almost 600kms!! I went to the vet and asked for some pills, which she gave me...(sorry, that should read that I paid an extortionate amount for)...and it was with my fingers crossed that I gave them to him wrapped in a little ham on Friday morning.
It took a little effort to persuade him into his cage in the back of the car. Taking him meant putting the top box on for our luggage as he takes up all the space in the back. But once in, he settled down - and was an angel all the way. Second problem sorted.

And there were no more problems. We had a great time. These photos are from the meal we enjoyed altogether at the restaurant where FR and I had our own wedding reception. The food was excellent and we laughed a lot - though there was less singing than on our day....


One of me, not because it's a good one, but because there are so few around...
Mateo and Marco in the background looking teenagerish!
And at the bar, FR's youngest brother and his girlfriend - another English woman!

Main dish - choto, or kid goat

I can't remember what was so funny but I do like to FR laughing!


And who knows what my father-in-law had said here...

This is the gift from middle son - a restored photo of his gorgeous parents when they were young. I fell in love with this picture and we're going to get a copy for ourselves.
It was taken by a street photographer and just a random snap - but it captures so much....
What a stunning couple they were.

And happy still - with their three sons here.
 The festivities continued back at the house and on to the next day when more family came down from Leon to celebrate. The weather was really poor - imagine, chilly and rainy in July in the centre of Spain! So we set the table out in the garage. I have to share a typical and funny story from this family. Marco, middle brother and his wife, Carmen live in the centre of Valladolid in an apartment. It was their task to bring a table and a chicken casserole that Carmen had cooked the day before. They are notoriously bad time keepers and usually turn up quite late for family events. However, they were surpassing themselves on this occasion. Nadia, the English girlfriend, with whom I got on really well, was getting a bit concerned as she wanted everything to be just right and kept insisting we phone Marco to see where he was. Eventually, we did this and it turned out that he'd forgotten the table and had to go back for it. By the time he arrived, we'd sorted alternative seating arrangements so the table wasn't necessary. During the afternoon, Marco and Carmen took me to one side and 'confessed' what had actually happened. Bear with me, it's a good one!

They park their car in an underground carpark near the house and the slope up to the road is very steep. Having loaded the table and the casserole into the boot, they decided it would be dangerous to drive up the slope and risk the casserole spilling, so they took everything out again. Marco then went back down and picked up the table - but forgot the casserole!  Halfway to his parents, we called about the table and it was then he remembered he'd left the casserole in the carpark!!!...So back they went. In order to fit the casserole into the boot of the car, he had to take out the table. Obviously by now, they were rather stressed....because they then drove off - yes, you've guessed it -  with the casserole, but without the table!

Anyone know the Tales of Hoffnung story...The Bricklayer's Lament? Well, I laughed almost as much at this as I did at Marco's tale.





For my in-laws, I painted my first ever picture. A mixture of watercolour and Zentangle. I wanted to do something just for them and whilst it is very 'naive' in style, I was quite pleased with how it turned out and it looked even nicer with a frame. They have it on their wall and I know Amelia will enjoy looking at it every day.



I will share what my family did without me in a later post....now, I'm preparing for a much anticipated visit to England!! We fly tomorrow - me and the children -  for just over a week and I am feeling rather excited about this. It's a busy life!


Saturday, 28 June 2014

Medieval Market

(Before anything...I have always used 'Mediaeval' as the spelling but I checked and double-checked and it would seem that the current preferred spelling is 'Medieval' even in the UK so I'm going with that.)


On Sunday afternoon, Ruy, Romy and I went with our neighbour, Sergio, to the neighbouring town of Priego de Cordoba.
It's a lovely town about the same size as Alcala la Real but with a different and rather more prosperous feel to it and once you get into the town, its much flatter!

It has lots of narrow streets that in May are awash with colour from the potted plants that are typical of the provincial capital - Cordoba.



However, it was already coming to the end of June when we went and the flowers had passed their most abundant. And we hadn't come to see the flowers anyway.

We came to the Medieval Market that was being held in front of the old castle and for a another more specific reason...I'll get to it in a mo but first a bit of background!

I remember when we lived in Huddersfield checking out local Archery clubs as I felt sure it was something my children would enjoy doing - and we were surrounded by lots and lots of clubs, all within 5 to 10 miles of us and all offering classes for young beginners. We never actually got round to joining any of them as it happens but obviously, the idea stuck with me and when I discovered the opportunity for them to have a go at archery here in Spain, I signed them up at once. I wrote about the day here. All three of them enjoyed the session but Ruy had either outstanding good luck or was something of a budding archer. Indeed, he got a bow for his birthday last year and has been practicing (on and off) ever since. Finding a club has been more difficult though!

The nearest is in Priego - about half an hour away - but the club only meets informally and sporadically - usually, a text message is sent out as the weekend approaches to say if there's a meeting. I spoke to the president of the club and he said he'd let me know but I've only had one message and it was on a weekend when we couldn't go. And there's no teaching per se.

However, how incredibly lucky are we that our wonderful neighbour, Sergio - who turns up and helps whenever we might need him, who is a fount of knowledge and wisdom about what's going on, when and where, who offers advice on dogs, cherries, cars - is also a passionate (and, more importantly, a non-hunting) expert in archery!!

He knows all the archers who ran the session that my children went to last year and has taken Ruy under his wing. He was going to the Medieval Market in Priego as part of the archery club and was dressed as a monk (I resisted the temptation to call him Friar Tuck....but it was difficult!) and as Ruy just happened to have a very convenient 'Knight' costume, which he donned without hesitation - we were whisked off for a bit of 'authentic' target practice in the grounds of the castle. Sergio had made all his own arrows from wood, finished with feathers, including an amazing one that whistled as it went - to frighten the enemy, apparently.

Deserted streets....where was everyone?


Doesn't Sergio make a great monk...? 


The Archers were all at the old castle - in costume and with some great Mediaeval props.

There was music...

...and madness
A Medieval shopping mall...

And quite a bit of nifty bow work....well done Ruy!
 
And of course, Romy had a go too.

And there were demonstrations of excellence all evening from various experts - including Sergio, of course.
 Choose your target, Ruy.



Not bad...though he went on later to hit the centre spot.

Entertainment - albeit of a rather gruesome sort...this creature was quite grotesque!

Romy in middle, keeping only a fairly save distance!


Monk with camera....


He moved very quickly.....
 
But was happy to pose for photos after the show...Romy snook on the end for a picture
 We had a great evening and Ruy proved that it wasn't just luck that afternoon. He has a natural ability and will be going regularly to the meetings  - apparently they use a mobile app to keep each other informed and I don't have it - hence the lack of information. But now, Sergio will keep us informed. He likes to do that.


Sunday, 15 June 2014

Small steps...

We have such a lot to do. Sometimes when the job ahead seems overwhelming, the only thing to do is to take one step at a time.
We've had a few setbacks in the past couple of weeks - I'll spare you the details but it has something to do with living in a small village where minds are not quite as open as they might be - and so progress has been very slow.
And now the temperature has risen to well over 30 degrees centigrade, so FR is often found working as night falls and the temperatures drop. It may well be excuse for any wonky walls....working in the dark makes it difficult to see the spirit level....

But a little shape is forming:

FR's curved wall

Here's where we must imagine a cooling oasis of blue....

The beginnings of steps up to the patio...and a new door ordered and expected on 20th of this month.


Where FR is will be the summer/winter kitchen. The plan is to have a bread oven in there plus a place to cook that will save the house from getting hot in summer. It will also be additional storage space and home to the big chest freezer that currently lives in the kitchen. I am looking forward to this being done....

In taking small steps, it's also important to keep an eye on little things too - like this beautiful rose that came to us from Sam and Dave's terrace when they left. I need to report that they seem to be thriving in Scotland, and although they are really missing being here in Alcala, they are making the most of being back with friends and family. And importantly, both are working in good jobs and the girls are happily settled in their old school. Doesn't stop me missing them but it helps to know that things are going well!


We have several rows of tomatoes growing and having learnt a lesson from last years' glut of cherry tomatoes, which were so difficult to turn into sauce, we've opted for the biggest ones we could find - and they're showing good signs so far!

I'm not absolutely sure that FR saw the funny side of his first sowing of corn seeds. He wanted to grow corn for the chickens, but they ate the little seedlings one day when he let them out! I found it comical but he wasn't amused at the time. The second lot is doing better and he has another couple of rows in different parts of the garden. I was just really glad it wasn't Pip who ate them!

Another little step of progress is that the trees we planted last year have produced a little fruit this year. OK, the one fig was pretty pathetic and the nectarines dropped off before ripening  but we have at least two plums....(they're as hard as stone at the moment but I'm taking it as a good sign for the future.)





Grapes we will have in plenty!







Pip - in a brief moment of release from the dreaded plastic collar. Isn't he just a handsome boy?
(Still an absolute pain in the backside though!)
And my own little step. I have a morbid fear of sewing machines...I jest not. I bought one in England many years ago from eBay as I felt I should have one. I think I've used it all of three times in all the time I've had it. We need to put up awnings over the front of the house - for which reason FR has had some iron frames made. It's my job to make the awning...and I'm dreading it. We can't quite decide on the best material at the moment so I took the opportunity to face my fear and replace the chair covers we have on our dining chairs. They needed replacing badly!


 Pip enjoyed a little chew on the corners when he was very young (I am hoping he's grown out of this habit completely now!)
So yes, they were in a dreadful state.


And I made one! I was so pleased with myself, although in a dreadful mood as I worked on it.

My sister uses a sewing machine as I use my Zentangle pens....give me Zentangle anytime though!


They're not puckered at the front, honest, they're 'gathered' as they are removable and on an elastic underneath. Washable.

I admit to being rather proud of myself.
Just another two to do and maybe one extra as a spare for when one of my mucky lot spills their lunch.





So, I might not be blogging as much as I used to. I am certainly not reading as many of my blogger friends' blogs as I used to and I apologise for that, but we are not sitting around on our laurels here in Casa Rosales. (Especially as when we did - to watch both the Spanish and English World Cup matches - we wished we'd been doing something else!)

Actually, I was doing something else. This challenge, by Laura Harms, a Certified Zentangle Teacher based in Canada, was to create a tangle that was inspired by 'Beads of Courage'. Her own little boy suffers from Moebius Syndrome  and has an impressive collection of beads from his varied contacts with doctors, needles, tests and hospital visits. I was very moved to read the stories from some of the other tanglers about children in their own families who suffer from serious conditions or have had life-changing accidents...there are a lot of very brave people around and it feels important from time to time to think of them, to offer thanks for the health and happiness of those we care about and to hope and support initiatives that might find cures for those who suffer. Small steps maybe - but in the right direction.

Beads of Courage. For brave children and families everywhere. 

Thanks for popping by and know that if I haven't visited your blog recently - I will be doing very soon!
Axxx