Casa Rosales

Casa Rosales

Thursday, 18 September 2014

My mother-in-law's garden..

It really deserves a blog post of its own. In our recent visit to Valladolid, I started to snap a few photos of my mother-in-law's garden. I've always loved this little, energetic, unique woman from the very first day we met and she welcomed me directly into the family. Everyone loves her and she is totally and utterly individual - OK, bordering on bizarre and eccentric! She can't pass a flower bush or tree without sticking a bit of it in her hair; she has an amazing collection of potions containing herbal remedies and oils; she collects elephant ornaments, but only the ones whose trunks are up in the air; she loves and collects old linen, lace, cups and glasses but also a range of utter tat and rubbish that is beyond belief - all with enthusiasm and wonder. She is full of childish whims and fancies and values. And as I looked around her garden, I could see her reflected perfectly in what I found.

Please enjoy and smile at the things she has lovingly, and with huge amusement, collected and arranged around her little piece of home!

I'll introduce you gently...nice ducks

And a lovely photo of Ruy and his grandfather from many years ago. This adorns a wall of the logshed.

Ceramic figure, with leaves (slightly dead ones)

Log pile with hidden plastic sword - the blue brush may be just an accident...

An ladybird as a garden ornament...rather old, but not unusual, I grant you...

A favourite glove...

Strange ornament...and an abandoned sock from one of my children when they were little.

Hmmm, not exactly Christmas time but never mind.

Toadstool house found in a car boot sale and lovingly cleaned up

Intricate collection of old chains and a sweet little doll...

This takes some explaining....

But my mother-in-law is absolutely in love with the Teletubbies,
so hopefully, Lala counteracts any evil intent of the above witch!

And we have Po too, just to be on the safe side....
I challenge anyone to produce a stranger collection found in a garden they know!!

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Some weeding due...

My blog garden is falling into a state of neglect, I'm afraid. Time for some weeding and pruning, or rather, some devoted attention.

I have hardly blogged this summer and hardly read the blogs of my friends. It's a strange feeling - in June, it seems as though the summer stretches out endlessly ahead and that there'll be time aplenty to do all the things that need to be done or that we want to do. And we do them - without doubt, this summer, we've done lots - but then sneakily, a subtle change comes about.

It starts as soon as the calendar turns to September. We see the odd cloud in the sky for the first time in months. Our evening walks with Pip have to begin earlier and finish before 9 o'clock or we risk being stranded in the dark. The overnight temperature drops low and we have to pull out a fine blanket on the bed for sleeping.

And then school starts and everything changes! No more lazy mornings; now, it's up just as the sun is rising and the air is still very chilly. No more late, late nights when the temperatures drop enough for us to feel able to be active. It's back to work and back to a schedule. And probably no bad thing.

So, to leave my borders tidy and my lawn well mown (figuratively speaking - my 'garden' still has a long way to go before we get to that stage!) I will share some photos from our lovely summer and then I shall start afresh with life as it is in Casa Rosales as we begin the new school term and focus on learning and growing for another year!

Some of our almond harvest

En route to Valladolid

Taking in some amazing scenery on the way!

Something not too nasty in the woodshed...

Cousins' poker school...

And some rain!!

Buying some of the excellent wine from Rueda

And a picnic in our favourite spot above Madrid.

Just back in Andalucia looking for vultures..

A most amazing spot and well worth leaving the motorway for.

Glad to be home again too.

And, back to work!!

For some, it's still back to play though!

Oh, and lots of Zentangle of course!

And a selfie on my new tablet.

Hope you've had a good summer too - I shall definitely be reading again soon! 


Sunday, 31 August 2014

Rounding up

Some parts of this summer have been the best ever! And I do remember some good summers, so that is definitely saying something. It's been a daily combination of busy and hectic and long and lazy. I've worked most days in the morning (if you can call chatting with two very nice men in English, about anything and everything, 'work') and we've splashed in our pool, taken long dusty walks with Pip, eaten warm tomatoes from the vine and had some perfect days at the beach. We've enjoyed celebrations and time with family and friends, visiting Valladolid and England, and had a great week when Sam and Dave came back to Alcala just as the town was at its most festive and fun.

Steps taking shape...
We've spent long, lazy hours on the sofa in front of the tv or doing some 'Yoga Andaluz' (taking a siesta!) as the heat of the afternoon has rendered us semi-comatose after lunch. And FR has become semi-nocturnal as he works in the garden once the sun has gone down and the temperatures have dropped a little. There's still a long way to go but things are definitely taking shape and it has been a real labour of love as he's worked sometimes until the early hours of the morning.

Romy has spent two weeks at summer 'school' at the sports centre here and had a whale of a time there with trips to the swimming pool, craft mornings, football, film-watching and just hanging out with friends. It was a good thing for her to have done and I think she will want to do it again.

Mateo and Ruy have put in many hours of study - we'll find out very soon if it has been enough to have made up for the distinct lack of application during the past academic year. Mateo did, however, pass all his end of term exams with the exception of Maths, which he's always struggled with. Fingers crossed for him tomorrow as he does the resit. Ruy, in his first year at secondary school, has discovered that he can't wing it anymore. All his teachers say he's capable but has simply not put in the work this year. He has two resits on Tuesday morning. And I shall cross my fingers again though I know there will be no problems for him at all.

Zentangle over coffee...
I have done Zentangles with an increased level of concentration and understanding and I'm rather pleased with some of my output. I've been invited to an arts and crafts day at a nearby cortijo which I am sure will be great fun, so I'm trying to put together some of my pieces in a presentable way - mostly they're in books or on bits of paper floating around. Seeing them all together makes me feel quite proud of what I've done in a year. There will be photos, I promise!!

On Thursday, I went into Granada and whilst I was there, I went into an archery shop to get a thing for Ruy. I asked if there were any clubs that took and taught youngsters nearby, as nothing much has been forthcoming from the group in Priego. As I was being given details and contact numbers some interesting options, the secretary of one of them walked into the shop...what luck! And I was invited to go along to their club on Saturday, bringing Ruy with me of course, as they have a small group of regular archers, amongst which there are two 'monitors' who are licenced to teach! Agreed, it's a bit of a trek to get there but I really do have a feeling that Ruy has talent in this sport, so I am happy to take him.

On target
And on Saturday, he and I set off around 9am to go to the club 'Arco Alfacar' just north of Granada. There we were met by an old man called Vigilio, who had no front teeth. I wasn't immediately impressed but as soon as Ruy set up his bow and was told to fire his arrows, Vigilio came into his own - a wonderful, natural teacher with whom Ruy felt absolutely comfortable. I left him with the archers and wandered off for a couple of hours on my own.

When I returned, after several hours firing arrows, Ruy was tired but very happy. They not only want him to join the club but say he is good enough to take part in the next 'Campeonata de Andalucia' - the championships! And these are being held at the club itself - at the end of September, so no time to lose!
Ruy is now feeling so motivated and enthusiastic and already planning to do really well in his first competition. I was so very proud of him as he stepped up to take his first shots in front of half a dozen seasoned archers - and hit the bull's eye, not once but with 4 out of his 5 arrows.

We're preparing for another week in Valladolid too as we haven't seen anywhere enough of FR's parents this year. They haven't been very well this year and haven't felt up to the journey down to see us, so we'll go to them. I shall be glad to see them again as my last trip was very short and there were such a lot of other people will be nice to just be with them.

And that just about rounds it up....and nicely too. Hope you've all had good summers - my blog reading has been very reduced in the past months so apologies if you haven't seen much of me on your blogs. I do intend to return to my beloved blogland again once the children are back at school and the days don't seem quite so....well, long!

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 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! 

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 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, 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!