Casa Rosales

Casa Rosales

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!

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!

Friday, 6 June 2014

Oh my!

I have just noticed that I am only 5 views away from 100,000 visits to my blog!!

I am feeling rather chuffed about this and thank you if you have been a passing or regular visitor. I feel I haven't really deserved too much attention recently as I've had so little time to blog. But I will be posting again soon!

Thanks again.


Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Is it May? Then I think it must be Wednesday

...although I confess to not being entirely sure.

Sleepless poor mum is having a few of those but today, Dad seems calmer and less angry. It's not a rosy picture by any means as the additional drugs have made it impossible for him to stand - not even with two people aiding him. He's really confused timewise, though sharp as a needle on things like playing dominoes and answering general knowledge questions. Mum's hoping for some physical assistance in the shape of a hoist and a different bed because she wants to manage at home just as long as possible. We'll have to see how long that is and how things go on a daily basis.

Sleepless nights...I came home from work last night around 8.30pm and as I got out of the car, Pippin came skulking up to the gate ...on the outside, not the inside. I looked around to see if Mateo had just been out for a walk with him but there was no sign. And then I saw his front leg....a big, open wound just around the 'elbow' area, a gash that split the skin to the flesh below. Turns out Mateo had taken him out not long after I left at 5pm and as usual, let him off the lead in the surrounding olive groves but Pippin had caught his leg on a rusty old piece of wire. Initially, Mateo had managed to pick him up to carry him home but Pip was so frightened that he got free and ran off. For three hours, Mateo and the neighbours were looking for him to no avail. There were tears of relief to see him again as shades of Darwin hung over everyone. It was a costly trip to the vet as we arrived out of hours, but she managed to stitch him up and sort him out and I feel sure it will all be OK - though Pip is not keen on his large plastic collar! He did make quite a lot of noise during the night once he woke up from the anaesthetic, hence my night of not much sleep. 

Pip on Sunday - 5 months old now

With Ruy 

This morning, a big squished in his cage but the place he feels safest in.
 I lost count of how many stitches he has

Yes, a bit sorry for himself and not impressed with his collar!

When Mateo, Pip and I got home, there was another surprise awaiting. Whilst doing some work up near the vine, FR had to move what he thought was an old nest...only to discover three little birds inside doing their 'Sing a Song of Sixpence' impression. Worried that the parents would reject them once the nest had been removed, he, Ruy and Romy were busy feeding their hungry little beaks and preparing a place to keep them. So cute - I do hope they survive. I feel so sorry for their parents who have done such a good job so far. Keep your fingers crossed.
Three little blackbirds

Sensing a presence

And opening wide in anticipation!

And the garden? Well, today, we have a miserable, damp and overcast sort of day where everything is wet from the humidity in the air, rather than rainfall so not much work. It was all hands on deck at the weekend though and good to know I have two strong boys willing and able to help out - one slightly more so than the other at the moment. It's important for me to stress here that we are just doing some minor gardening work, of course. Minor. Gardening. As you can see. 

Ruy avoiding photograph....

Just minor work, you understand

As always, our neighbours were wonderful during the Pip crisis and our thanks are with them. And to top it off, Sergio came round with a great bowl of cherries and strawberries. 

And not everything in the garden is - in a minor way - being turned upside down. 

Some parts are positively rosy and our hens are working overtime on the egg front! 

Wonderful scented jasmine outside the lounge window...

Wild flowers in the wild bits...

And we are not Casa Rosales for nothing...with yellow


red roses blooming
(despite the minor gardening work....)

And VERY briefly, talking about work....I'm suddenly finding myself very busy with my teaching. I have three classes that begin at 8am and it's this early start, combined with my sleepless night, that means I am doing double not just on the day but almost the month! May has barely begun for me despite the fact it's June on Sunday! 

Where does the time go??