Casa Rosales

Casa Rosales

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Rumpty tum te tum te tum

OK, my title only makes some sense if you know the tune for the long-running BBC Radio Four series, 'The Archers' and is my way of introducing the topic of this post. My son Ruy, the Archer!

You may remember a recent post I wrote, where we had eventually found a club for Ruy to join to practice his archery on a regular basis and he went for the first time at the very end of August. And the club members were impressed with his skill and immediately said he must enter the competition at the end of September for Champion of Andalucia. This was quite a surprise and a great motivator for Ruy.

The following week, he wasn't able to practice because we went up to Valladolid for a week, but as soon as we could, I took him back for another practice morning and again the following week. I rather like getting up early on Sunday mornings, dropping Ruy off at the club, have a chat with the (mainly) men there before going to 'my' bar for a cup of wonderful coffee and a typical Spanish breakfast of toast with tomatoes and olive oil....SO delicious!

But I digress. So after three weeks of practice and some great support from Virgilio, the teacher, (who is just a whisper away from 80 years old and as lean and fit as a man half his age,) Ruy suddenly had a licence to carry a bow, was a member of a club and enrolled to take part in the XVII Campeonata de Andalucia (for 3D forest archery, not just targets). Very exciting.

The week before the championship was a week of overcast skies and sudden showers of rain - the first since May really - and the forecast for the Sunday was 'not good'. And we had to get up at 6am to arrive in time for the start at 8,30am. Goodness, these archers are keen! Romy decided to go and stay with a friend on Saturday night rather than get up to go and watch....but Mateo was good to go and so we four set off in the dark wondering what on earth we were going to.

My plan had been to see Ruy off on the course and then retreat to my favourite bar - I hadn't had a coffee in the morning with this specific intention in mind....How silly I was! There were around 60 contestants in the overall competition and just 5 in the Junior category...including the Champion of Spain, no less, so the competition for the Junior title was going to be tough. But enough words, the rest can be told in pictures, more or less!

This is the terrain....a tough route where 24 models of animals were patiently waiting to be shot at...

Not easy walking either...

And somehow, my plan of sloping off for a coffee just didn't work out. Once the shooting started, I couldn't get back to the club house safely...This is Ruy's group heading for their first target.

Which turned out - rather unexpectely - to be a penguin...(this is the marker, not the target!)

Ruy's first shots turned out to be pretty well on target - and he was off to a good start.

The boy in the foreground is the current champion of Spain and he was really very good.

Not easy to spot, but there is a deer in the middle right of the picture that is the target here.

Aiming for another horned creature, there between the trees
 And so it went - for 24 different animals and two and a half hours (and no coffee) - and it just began to rain as we completed all the targets. The Champion of Spain had beaten Ruy and Ruy had beaten the other boy in his group but we didn't know how the other Juniors had done yet. Nor did we know that the competition wasn't over...not by a long way!

Back at the club house, with well-earned sandwiches and drinks all round, we found out that Ruy was lying in 3rd place and now the semi-finals would take place. A shoot off between 1st and 4th places and between 2nd and 3rd places.

And as the competitors were asked to move to the targets, the rain really began to come down in earnest and I decided to stay put. FR and Mateo bravely went off to support Ruy and hold the umbrella for him as he took aim.

And Ruy won the shoot off...but it still wasn't over!

In the other semi-final, the boy who was lying in 4th place, beat the champion.

This seemed a bit unfair to me, but apparently,  this is how all the championships go, so I guess the Champion already knew what might happen.

And so the final was between Ruy and Dani!

And it was so very close - with Ruy finishing with an amazing shot from the top of a rock at the club house, down towards a large mountain goat, which he hit perfectly, but which didn't quite get him the title of Champion of Andalucia, but got him the honour of 'Sub' Champion! On his first ever attempt. He was exhausted but delighted....and we were too.

Here he is with Guillermo, on the left in front of him, and Virgilio in the middle in front of him - the two men who have really encouraged and helped him and who were very, very pleased with his achievement. 
All four finalists - all excellent archers, from Malaga, Granada, Jaen and Seville.

And after the presentations, the final team competition was cancelled as the rain was so heavy that no one could see to shoot - so we all ate an amazingly good paella that the good womenfolk had been preparing in the club house. Very welcome, very hot and really delicious!

I couldn't resist taking this - all the other animals were taken away but for some reason, the penguin was left, all alone - and doesn't he look miserable! Perhaps he had missed his morning coffee too..

Well done Ruy! It's been a gradual process, this archery thing, but we all knew you had talent. Next stop - well, Champion of Spain wouldn't be too big a target, would it?

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.....