Casa Rosales

Casa Rosales

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

The Confectioner's Vegetable Colours & Fruit Essences Co. Ltd.

They had snappy business titles back in the '50s, don't you think?

I was digging around in my 'chocolate box' (it has not chocolates in it, but has lots of bits that belong to my chocolate making indulgence) and I came across something I wanted to share. It's the remnants of the old mould catalogue that my Grandpa had when he first began making chocolates.

My grandpa had a sweet shop in a little village called Thornton near Bradford. Somewhere, there's a beautiful photo of him holding me as a little girl outside this shop and whilst I was too young to remember it being taken, it is a precious photo because it captures what was always a lovely relationship between us. I was so fond of my grandpa...

I've included this letter because I did try and find the company again when I started making chocolates myself...but to no avail. Can you remember four digit telephone numbers? As I grinned at the idea of anyone now being able to answer 'Chiswick 2672', a distant memory stirs as I remember our grandparents' telephone number - 'Thornton 3056'.

The following are pages from this catalogue, though I can't tell you if it's the 'readjusted' version or the original one. It's great to see which moulds my grandpa chose - which I still have - and also which ones he didn't choose!

Enjoy a browse - and imagine all of these were designed to produce a chocolate figure....some of them would not take my fancy at all!

I have the toadstools, bottom left, from this page.

Nothing here took his fancy...who on earth would want number 57?

We have 'mad bunny in car' - top left who is one of my favourites to make at Easter.

Not sure why he chose the bunny on the egg, top right. It's not one I'd have picked.

My favourite March Hare.
We have the one at top right - though bottom left looks a handsome chappie too.
The motorbike is fantastic - I'd have loved him.

We have the top left, bunnies round an egg mould and the bunny with an egg in the car, in the
middle of the photo - in two sizes, no less!

So glad that none of these appealed...

And from a different catalogue, I have some more moulds. These pages were too big to fit into the printer properly but you can get an idea of the choices available. Again, some are great and others are downright odd!

From this page, I have the pocket watch and - only just visible at the bottom of the page - the rhinoceros.

These are all moulds made of metal and haven't survived as well as the others, which are made of a clear rigid plastic, called 'Plexiglas'. I have the Santa, the Sailor and the Policeman but can't use them any more - I'd have health and safety after me!

The lion and the little bird at the bottom are the ones we have from this page - again, I don't use them for making any more but would be very loathe ever to part with them!

My grandpa did choose the pocket knife but happily, no guns. We had too the wristwatch and train. I can't tell the difference between this pocket watch and the other, but we had pocket watches. 

It's a shame that I can't use these metal moulds anymore. They are so redolent of the period and have lovely details. But as they are made from metal, some of them have rust spots now. When I first got them, I did use them, but that's twenty five years ago and even then, they didn't always turn out easily. They have spent too much time in storage recently to ever be of real use again. I have considered making silicone casts of them - it might not result in the best copy but I may think about it. Alternatively, I may continue to buy a couple of new moulds each year which are made from an excellent material - polycarbonate - which allows the chocolate to set and release beautifully.

I feel very lucky to have such a wonderful collection of moulds. I don't know if they are of any real value - obviously to me they have a huge sentimental value and I wouldn't part with them - but I am so pleased to have these old documents and catalogues in my possession, as well as the selection of chocolate moulds that my grandpa purchased from them over 50 years ago.

Summer shades...

An amazing flower on a plant bought for me by some friends. I thought it had finished flowering but a whole host of new buds have formed. 
Super spicy sun-dried tomatoes in extra virgin olive oil. Ate some this lunchtime with chickpeas and peppers...delicious!

New card toppers 
With cute ladybirds...

Green peppers in our garden

No partridge but we have a pear tree - hope it tastes as good as it looks.

What? Where has the blue sky gone? We had almost forgotten what clouds look like.
Casting a little shade of its own this morning was the weather in Andalucia.

Good job we've captured the shades of summer - golden, orange and red.
And as I snapped my way around the garden and the kitchen, who was by my side all the time?
He takes it all in, you know. 

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

On the Edge

How are you with heights? I have a reasonable head for them as long as I am 'safe'. I can climb a ladder without problem. I can use lifts and cross bridges. I love flying and always take a window seat so I can see the ground like a map below me. 
Yet I have an uncontrollable fear of being on 'an edge' - even worse if the edge is at a height. It's not a fear of falling. It's a fear I will jump. I call it my lemming urge, even though it's urban myth that lemmings leap over cliffs 'en masse'. 

I often think about this strange feeling. I first remember it as a child being taken through some caves near Swanage whilst on holiday. The caves were unremarkable, as I remember, being originally limestone quarries, not natural caves but they filled me with a most unpleasant foreboding. 

It was as we made our way - unguided - to an opening high above the sea and all eight of us in our party emerged to stand on an unrailed ledge whilst the sea boiled and crashed below us, that my fear really took hold. I would have only been about seven, I think but I can still remember the feeling of absolute horror as everyone milled aimlessly about the narrow, crumbly ledge. I seemed to be the only one remotely concerned but I was convinced I would 'allow' myself to go beyond the edge...and so returned to the dark, safeness of the cave, and withdrew into myself for the rest of the day, despite parental instructions to 'enjoy yourself, you're on holiday'. 

Tilly Whim Caves spoilt my holiday that year. They were closed to the public in 1976 due to being unsafe. I knew it.

Years later, on another holiday - that same feeling came rushing over me again as I visited Pisa in Italy with my parents. It was probably 1986 and a few years before the tower was closed to the public which major works went on to halt its dangerous tilt. We went up and experienced the strange feeling of moving one's legs as if climbing UP stairs, whilst the force of gravity on the body made it feel as though you were moving DOWN stairs. A most unusual experience. From time to time, there were openings to walk out and around the outer 'loggia' of the tower but we kept climbing up. Until we were almost at the top, that is. It was at a point where the 'downward' tilt of the tower was at its greatest and there was an opening - look closely at the last 'full width' layer in the photo to the left to see what I mean - you can see an opening behind the columns. 

Well, I foolishly came out of one of those. At a sloping angle.

File:Leaning tower loggiati.jpg
And LOOK!!! No railings, nothing to stop me from slipping sneakily between the columns and jumping...

As it happened, I took the most sensible action available to me to avoid the jump. I embraced one of the columns and just hung on.

And on, and on, and on. I couldn't let go.

It took my father, my mother and my ex to pry my fingers from the stone and guide me back inside. I was quite calm and even continued up to the very top. There are photos of me there, gripping the metal railings tightly, but smiling in a quietly hysterical sort of way.

It is now open to the public again though I don't know if you are allowed to wander freely...and dangerously... around the loggia layers that are such a scary prospect for some of us.

As I think about the next thing that comes to my mind on this subject, my toes have started to involuntarily grip the floor beneath them as I type. 

On a wonderful holiday in Provence one year - and it must have been around 1989 or 90 - we visited, amongst many other stunning places - the Pont du Gard. This is a Roman aqueduct bridge spanning the beautiful Gardon river. It's a jaw-dropping piece of architecture and I remember there being quite a lot of visitors there when we went and quite a lot of tatty tourist shops too. What I can't quite remember is how I suddenly found myself walking across the TOP of the bridge. Yes, the TOP! It was busy and it was a very long way down. With each step, I concentrated on creating a feeling of suction in my feet to 'stick' me to the ground. Then every so often, there would be a gap in the path in front of me - a ventilation shaft to the level below - and I would have to step widely to cross it. And then there would be someone coming TOWARDS me and expecting me to move out of the way. When this happened, I kept my eyes down and stopped moving altogether until they had found another way round. 

I have never been more terrified in all my life. At least when I got to the other end, I could return via several 'layers' lower down. Aaargh...sets my teeth on edge just thinking about it again. And why am I not in the least bit surprised to read that this too has been closed. Although work has been done on improving the visitor area, no one is allowed to walk across the top any more. I found this piece most informative and reassuring as I was checking to see if it was still possible to cross - even to make sure I hadn't imagined it all! 

But I have to confess, no matter how awful the actual experience was, I am rather pleased to think that I did walk across this amazing bridge without the help of ropes or rails - and without wearing a harness or a parachute. I did - I really did.

When have you found yourself at the edge? 

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Mainly making.

This is a post about excesses....

If I'm not doing something a little on the creative side, I get itchy fingers.
I've had very itchy fingers recently.

So Romy and I set to - making cards. I'm not exactly sure why. The Spanish don't send cards except on very rare occasions. Nor do they give bunches of flowers to say thank you, or cheer up, or well done. They do appreciate it when I do it but so far, we haven't changed the habits of a lifetime.
There will be some craft fairs coming up as we move towards the cooler weather and maybe there will be some interest if we try and sell them there. Cards and's a nice combination. Otherwise, we may have an excess of cards on our hands. Especially as I've ordered a whole load of card-making goodies from the internet that haven't yet arrived...


Here are some of our attempts...I tell you which are mine and which are those of my 9 year old daughter because you'd struggle to guess! She is fantastic!


This one is mine
And this is a joint effort 

One of mine

And one of Romy's

And another of mine.

This is mine - an attempt to include chocolate! I might work on this idea....

And this is today's effort on my part, which includes the map that Mateo drew. I rather like this one...

Today's efforts at making included all the family - Ruy was particularly pleased with his burger arrangement. And recently, he has been taking his Scotch Pancake making to excess too! We've had them for about 6 days in a row....

(I have no idea why there is a paintbrush on the table...)

And we have a GLUT of cherry tomatoes so this morning, I spent a good hour cutting them in half before setting three trays out to dry in the sun. I sprinkled one lot with herbs and chilli flakes as well as salt and I've already bottled those in olive oil to eat in their nearly dried state. They are absolutely delish!!

This tray and another will go out again tomorrow for another drying session. I want some that are totally dry that I can keep in a container and pop into soups and sauces. The rest will be to add to salad dishes or to eat as a little tapa with some bread and olives. Yummmmmmmm.

FR has been doing wonders with the piles of vegetables that our neighbours have been foisting generously passing on to us. We have had gallons of gazpacho; we've eaten swiss chard (or acelgas as they are called here) fried, boiled, steamed and sauted - in tortillas, with potatoes or on their own. We have eaten lots of pisto and/or ratatouille with the abundance of courgettes, tomatoes, aubergines and onions we've received - adding our very own peppers from the garden.

Yes, we've been busy.

And now I am off to make some fig and orange jam with a huge tray of green figs that was given to me this morning!

Has the summer given you an excess of anything good?

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Lazy, hazy days of summer

From time to time, I pinch myself.
This could all be a dream.
Wall to wall sunshine; sunflowers, a swimming pool, happy children, generous neighbours, good food, great friends...
I do appreciate it. 

Here's just a little, unembellished glimpse of what we've been doing recently.

The boys picking tomatoes from Sergio's huerto (allotment)

Cycling home with a bagful

Honing some cooking skills - Ruy's take on Scotch pancakes - he adds 'Nesquick'!

Very pleased with my crystallised oranges - it's taken three weeks to get them to this stage and I'm delighted with them

Imagine them dipped in a strong dark chocolate.....

Stunning view of La Mota and the firework display last night.

Taken at our friends house - La Mota Vista Casa Rural.
A great evening!! 

Welcome to Berta's puppies - one of Sergio's dogs. Guess who wants one?

Super gorgeous - not sure who is poking them with a walking stick...

I made a recycled apple. What else do you do with them?

My sunflowers grew BIG!

Hope you're having a lovely summer. Or a lovely winter if you're on that side of the world! 

Monday, 12 August 2013

Journey to another world

Not everyone loves maps. My mum never did. FR may say he likes them but he never looks at them - and certainly never follows them even when he should! I inherited my own love of maps from my dad, I think. And I believe Mateo has inherited this same love - only he's taken it many giant leaps forward.

I love old maps. Ones that say, 'Here be monsters' - an indication of uncharted territories and which have sea serpents and great beasties rising from the depths. I love compasses and being able to locate myself to North, South, East or West. FR's parents were comical whilst staying at our house recently as their house obviously faces in completely the opposite direction to ours. They couldn't get used to seeing the sun rise and set in the 'wrong' place! I was quite taken by this concept...the sun was wrong in Andalucia!

Mateo spends hours creating new species, languages and habitats in a world several million years from now. He has it all quite clear. Our world and its countries are just recognisable but, just as we currently live on a planet whose continents and islands have merged and separated over the years, so our land masses continue to move, migrate and shift.

Pangaea - that view of the world where the tectonic plates were still all cosy and close - has fascinated and inspired many. Me too - an ex-jigsaw junkie - seeing where Africa and the United States might have fitted together, how they moved apart and seeing India travelling so far and finally bumping into Asia to form the Himalayas!

Isn't this an amazing animation of that process?

Well - until Mateo gives his permission, I can't show you where it'll all end in his opinion or what sort of creatures will inhabit the earth at that point. He did say he WILL give me access - just not now.

But he's granted permission to use a fantasy map he's created. This demonstrates his love of map-making. He's drawn many a fantasy map but this one I fell in love with. An obvious link to Tolkien and his many similarly-inspired 'followers' who have been inspired to think of alternative lands - Mateo is no exception. He's ploughing through 'The Silmarillion' with a great deal more dedication than I was ever able to give and has made great inroads into the concept of language development, reading really quite advanced books on the subject. He is thinking about a career in anthropology. It could well be a good choice.

That is, if his love of writing and creating maps and other worlds doesn't lead him to be the next George R.R. Martin, Michelle Paver, Walther Moers, David Brin..or even H.G.Wells - the latter one of Mateo's personal favourites.

There is something very beautiful about this.

Hopefully, he'll be persuaded to share more of his stuff...I'm very proud and impressed by what he has been doing.