Casa Rosales

Casa Rosales

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Production begins!

One of the last things I did in the Calle Boli....bugger, this keyboard is playing up again and is refusing to type the letter that follows the 'i'...excuse me whilst I try and fix it!

vvvvvvv - there we are. (Evidence that there is no preparation in my blogging process, other than the uploading of photographs...I'm aware that not everyone does it this way but it's how I roll.)

Where was I? Ah yes, back in the Calle Bolivia having a most successful chocolate Easter egg making session due to the fantastic weather conditions we had in March. (Just before we moved to our house...during which time the heavens opened upon us.) Over the summer months, chocolate making is not just impractical but impossible - but, as a nip arrived in the air with September, my mind began to turn to the idea of chocolate again. My order arrived just before I left for the UK but when I returned, we were in the middle of a real heatwave with temperatures back up into the high 20s (C), and chocolating was not a possibility.

So I stayed with Zentangles and really indulged myself with some favourite tangles in this piece, which is called 'Banners' for no real reason.
I am particularly fond of the little black, spotty ribbon that threads through buttons on the left of the picture and have been practising, with varied success, a paisley shape and pattern. It's such good fun!

Up at almost 1000m above sea level, we can have bright sunshine, a chill in the air and low humidity. And that's how it's been today. Perfect chocolate making weather.

I made some vanilla milk chocolate truffle at the end of last week in preparation, (the ganache will keep several weeks in the fridge before use and can even be frozen successfully) and when FR and the children had all gone off to their various pursuits, I put a load of washing in and then BEGAN!!  I was a tad worried that I might have lost the touch after so many months without making but the results look pretty good...and, having tried one, in the name of quality control, I can say 'the touch' is not lost.

It's a lovely feeling to have the mojo flowing once again. Shame about the picture quality...but at least you won't be tempted to reach in and take one!

Hand dipped truffles

Thin, minty disks...for after dinner ... or not!

Do you like the tin I keep them in?

What makes your mojo flow?  Can you eat it? Wear it? Look at it? Share it? Go on, share it!

Thursday, 24 October 2013

In lieu of autumn...

I may have mentioned how cold I felt whilst I was back in England in my last post, but I was conscious (when the mist and fog lifted) of a wealth of beautiful autumnal colours in the surrounding countryside. Being back home again (said so easily - this really is my home now) the weather has definitely changed from successive warm and sunny days to a noticeable nip in the air from early evening through until the sun is fully risen. We've had a few days of damp drizzle too. The colours are different though.

Surrounded as we are by olive groves, whose colour - a lovely soft, silvery green - is pretty constant all year round, I have already realised in previous years, that autumn is not much more than the name of the season - it doesn't conjure up rich reds, yellows and oranges, nor crispy piles of fallen leaves (there are some...don't let me overstate this) nor the promise of Bonfire Night coming soon. And whilst the schools do now talk about Halloween and the shops are trying to make us buy costumes, maps and bags of sweets, here, it's All Saints' Day that is really celebrated and florists work hard to supply bouquets for families to take to their dear departed ones.

Having a place on the land this year, we might be tempted to have a bonfire on 5th November with some homemade toffee, some parkin  (a traditional Yorkshire cake made with ginger and treacle...) and maybe baked potatoes - and marshmallows to roast. It won't be the same without sparklers and Roman Candles and Catherine Wheels....I used to so love Bonfire - or Plot - Night as we used to call it. Anyone not entirely familiar with this will have to wait til next week when I shall write a bit more about it all. (You'll have to wait because I shall have to check out a few facts before I start with 'A few hundred years or so ago...')

This week has seen me walking more. I used to walk a good hour and a half a day - though not all in one go - when we lived in the Calle Bolivia. Now, I hardly walk anywhere even though I rarely sit down. It's obviously not quite the same and my waistline - well, it's disappeared is what it's done! So, whilst at my sister's, I plotted a couple of circular walks that I can do. So far, when I have taken Darwin out for a walk, we've gone for about 20 minutes or so in one direction, then turned round and come back and I don't like doing that. On Monday, we did a 5.8km route along the river towards La Pedriza, across the bridge before arriving home on the other side of the river. And we did it again today.
And today, it was really hot! I was quite sweaty when I returned and really felt as though I'd been exercising - Darwin made a dash for his water as I opened the gate! I only had my phone with me, but want to share some of my photos of Andalucia in the autumn.

A bit blurry, but blue skies and empty fields

Trees following the river and a big, ploughed empty field in front

Lots of green still...and blue...
and the blurry bit in the foreground is yellowy, frondy asparagus

Again, rather blurred...but this may just shows signs of autumn next time I pass...

I have noticed some lovely posts on some of my favourite blogs about autumn - how is it looking where you are?

Saturday, 19 October 2013

A week and a world away

The 'great secret' wasn't kept for too long once my mum had arrived to spend a week with us. Just three days into her time with us, it became necessary to let her know I'd be travelling back with her - all the way to England - and she was delighted. So much so that telling her seemed even better than keeping it a secret.

Luckily for us, there was a taxi booked to take a friend's mother and sister to the airport leaving around the same time as we needed to go, so we all squished in together and shared the cost. (Good job I went or we might have ended up in Motril or Almeria as the driver missed the turn off for Malaga!)

It was quite a shock to the system to be met by the chilly, damp weather at midnight (not unexpected but a shock nevertheless...) but great to see my sister waiting for us and after we'd seen safely Mum home, we settled down for a little chat before bed. Three hours later, we were still chatting...

My visit back to England had no real focus at the time I booked it - it just felt like a great joke to play on Mum! However, in the meantime, my sister had found a new house and all was set for a completion on the day before I left so I'd get to see it and it was really exciting to think about them in a new house. As she's intending renting her current one out, rather than selling, it also meant that there was no moving day stress to contend with - the move would take place over the half-term holiday, one room at a time, with a group of my nephew's sixth form friends doing the bulk of the furniture-lugging. (She would have time to blog..if she was a blogger.)
They have found a farmhouse, with outbuildings and lots of land (she says she's copying me...but I think not!) and it was what they always wanted, though the intention wasn't to look for another couple of years. But when you find the house of your dreams...what can you do?

Tantalising glimpse of 'Sunnyside' - soon to be renamed 'Pear Tree' Farm.

We drove it past the next day on our way to meet Emily, my niece, to take the dogs for a walk. It is really difficult to see from the roadside but is in the middle of beautiful countryside in Cheshire and I was hoping to see it inside before I left.

We went to meet Emily and her housemates then set off for the beach on the Wirral. Everything around was looking very autumnal and moody - and the beach was incredible despite the biting wind that left my ears ringing.

Emily is in her fourth year of Veterinary Studies and currently shares a very focused household with three other vet students. As well as Judy and I on the beach, there were three dogs and four vets  - which was almost the title of this post. Lovely bunch they were - all girls, all interested in the same things and very happy sharing their house with just one, very bright little Border Collie, Fizz, who absolutely fell on her feet when Emily got her from a rescue place a couple of months ago. The other two dogs are my sister's.

Amazing skies, amazing beach. SO cold, you wouldn't believe me!!
After a bite of lunch, we headed home before Judy - can't call her 'my sister' all the time, however proud of her I always feel - generously took me for my first 'TK Maxx' fix. If you don't know, this is an outlet shop that can, to the untrained eye, closely resemble a wild jumble sale but to a savvy shopper with an eye for something a little different, is a veritable treasure trove. I bought some beautiful card stock, some edible gold stars, a woolly hat and a king size fitted sheet. And then we came back to Knutsford, calling at the local supermarket, Booth's, where I was blown away by the choices of things that I love. I'd forgotten about such choice!!

A truly wonderful selection of different breads...

Oh sigh! I absolutely adore dorset cereals.... all of them!
(Though if I had to choose just one, it would be luscious berries and cherries.)

On arrival at Huddersfield...why they had the fountains on, I have no idea!
Over the weekend, I went by train to Huddersfield to catch up with a few friends. I couldn't see everyone, so made it a low-key visit. The weather was about as unpleasant as it could have been but Huddersfield felt reassuringly the same. As did the couple of people I bumped into! I managed another visit to TK Maxx too, where I bought jeans for Ruy and Romy at a price where it didn't really matter whether they fitted or not (they do!) and a new bag for me and a jacket for Mateo. Then spent the evening with my friend, Marion - chatting, of course!

 I do like TK Maxx. I had to resist quite a lot of what I really wanted though as I was limited on space and weight for my return journey.

On the Sunday morning, there was a lovely craft and local produce market on in the big open marketplace - called 'Upmarket Sunday' - where Jenny and
I spent a lovely couple of hours, testing lemon curd, beetroot focaccia, cheeses and cake...
Beetroot focaccia on the left, with goats cheese and onion - rather good!

And then I met Kath, my lovely ex-nextdoor neighbour, who whisked me off to Greenhead Park for tea and cake before dropping me back (at TK Maxx) just before I went off to meet Judy, Rob and my nephew. Will and his girlfriend, Roseanne, are now both students at Huddersfield University which is rather a nice arrangement all round, I feel.
We had a lovely lunch in an old favourite and on our return, I began to realise I had spent a lot of time eating and was beginning to feel the effects of over-indulging...a very tight waistband!

And suddenly, Monday came and went - with no exchange of contracts on the house - so on Tuesday, I went out for the day with Mum, hoping to get a call from Judy to say all was sorted with the solicitors...but the call never came. The exchange of contracts didn't happen until last thing Tuesday, with completion happening as I was flying over Valladolid - probably! It ended up being rather stressful after all - I shall suggest Judy starts a blog or takes up doodling...

Because that was the other thing about my visit. I couldn't stop doing my Zentangles. So much so, I'm starting a new blog about them... it will be up and live very shortly. That way, I don't bore the pants off anyone who's not interested! I promised myself not to go on about it during my week at home - but by the end of it, Judy had shown definite signs of interest; Jenny will be a natural; Marion tried to commission me to do a set of pictures to go on her new kitchen wall...and my mum's friend was absolutely fascinated by it and watched me do a whole picture....I guess I must have mentioned it.

When the time came to go, early Wednesday morning, I left looking absolutely bizarre, with several layers on under my thick jumper and leggings on under my skirt - but it was SO chilly first thing in the morning yet, around 28 degrees in Malaga as I landed - difficult to get it right at both ends. Judy dropped me off to go and check my suitcase in whilst she parked the car. Imagine my surprise when I saw Chris, husband of Kath, walking towards me! The whole family were there as Bronte, their eldest daughter, was off to Boston on a school exchange!! It was a brilliant way to end my stay - hugs at the airport from lots of lovely people! It was quite a send off and drew great attention to my strange attire, I'm sure...

However, I discreetly stripped various items off along the journey, and so was able to travel back to Alcala by bus, without melting into a sweaty heap. It was absolutely the right thing to do.

And oh what joy to come home! It's a long time since I've been away alone and I did actually feel a little homesick - quite unexpectedly. But home really does feel like home now and I haven't stopped grinning since I got back.  (Apart from when I stepped on the weighing scales...sigh.)

Nor have I had chance to speak to my sister as she's busy on her new farm, moving the hens in! I think by the time I get to see it, there might even be a pig and a sheep living there too. She's known her daughter wanted to be a vet for a long absolutely perfect!

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

A perfectly lovely week

On a beautiful evening last Tuesday, I drove down to Malaga airport to collect my mum. Having been looking forward to her coming all summer and hot on the heels of Janice and Mark's visit, when she came through the gates at Arrivals, it suddenly didn't seem two minutes since she was here last time, in May. We had a lovely time then and had no intention of doing anything else this time either.

The weather, which had been miserable just a few days before, perked up beautifully. Mum enjoys gardening - she didn't always and never needed to garden when I lived at home (not because I did it!) because my grandparents lived next door and my grandpa was an avid gardener. She now does most of her own garden and it's a credit to her.

She started on mine and has done a bit almost every day, clearing weeds, pruning roses and clipping the juniper bush.

It all looks much better now and I shall have to make a concerted effort to keep up to it...

We had a little adventure on Friday, when we went to a nearby village up in the mountains - it was market day there but when we got there, the town was preparing for their fiesta and there was no market... It's an impressive village up a steep mountainside but guess who had forgotten her camera.

In lieu of my own photos, I will share this image from which shows the dramatic position of the place which we drive past on our way home from Granada.

On our way back home, we stopped off for a drink and tapas. (I'm glad to say we did rather a lot of this during the week.) The intention was then to do some shopping and come home. But when we emerged from the bar, the car wouldn't start. No way, no how. I had to call FR. Who didn't believe it wasn't something I had done wrong. But who eventually had to call the insurance company, who eventually came and, finding the car wouldn't start, (see, not my fault) loaded it onto the truck and brought it and us back to Alcala to one of the mechanics there - but one that was away at lunch. Fortunately for us, we have Sergio - our magical neighbour - who solves all our problems and makes us laugh too. When the mechanic eventually had a look at the car, turns out it was the distributor belt or something like that. Something Rather Expensive. Not me. Phew!

We seem to have spent the week eating, chatting and going for little walks - often to take a coffee and a little something at a cafe - and time has flown past. We have, however, played lots of Charades...Mum does Charades!

On her last full day here, Mum said she'd like to see the sea. What a good idea, I thought! So today, we went to SalobreƱa and had a really glorious day out. But I forgot my camera again...these are the best my phone could do.

A sand scuplture we found along the promenade - I think from a fiesta from earlier in the month...

Enjoying a delicious lunch at a chiringuito on the beach..

My plate of incredibly fresh fish.

And today, the pleasure doesn't end when the taxi comes - with my neighbour, Bev's mum and sister, who have conveniently been visiting at the same time and have a flight just before ours from Malaga - because I am returning to Manchester with Mum! That was the big surprise and it was a question of how long I could keep it secret - would I actually get on the plane with her before she realised??? It was a possibility but in the end, because of the broken car and arrangements that had to be made, I told her - and it was a good thing to do as it delighted her and added an even better end to her holiday.

It has been a really lovely week. I shall endeavour to pack my camera when I set off. It's good my sister moves house next week so I'll get to see her old house, where we've had some great time and also to see her new place!

Oooh, can't wait!!

Friday, 4 October 2013

Adventure Time!

Just before my own adventures with Janice and Mark, as a treat for Ruy's birthday, we went to an Amazonian Adventure park, one of several in Spain with this one being just outside Granada in the stunning scenery of the Natural Park of the Sierra Huetor.

The drive alone up through the pine forests was a treat in itself.

Once there, Romy and Ruy had an absolutely brilliant time. Mateo had intended doing it but wasn't allowed on the adult course without one of us two going with him...I ruled myself out on the grounds of any number of reasons and FR has such a damaged knee that it would have been silly of him to even try. So, in the end, Mateo acted as support and encouragement to the other two and took himself off on a couple of nice long walks.

The photos just speak for themselves....

Fitting the harnesses...

Instruction time

And they're away...

Stepping out...

Getting ready...


More concentration..

The 'wheeee' bit!

Moving on to the harder stuff...

Team work..

Not the best sight ahead for Ruy....stranded explorer about to be rescued....took about fifteen minutes to get this poor chap down after he'd missed his footing and fallen.

One of Romy's favourite parts

This is quite high up now...

My explorer daughter...must be the youngest (and tallest) 9 year old to do the course.

This was probably the most difficult - Ruy absolutely up to the challenge.

Walking in the air.

At the end, both Ruy and Romy were quite exhilarated. Romy reckoned it was the 'best thing ever'. And we finished off the day with a drive into the National Park, where we collected some of the biggest pine cones ever, and had a lovely picnic...a day to remember!

Anyone looking for a great place to go with children around Granada - I can highly recommend the 'Aventura Amazonia' near Viznar. 

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Friendly links

I am quite sure that almost anyone who reads my blog also reads Janice's...but just in case, I'm using this post to share a link to her blog. It documents what we were doing together (yey!0 at the end of last week. (Having a lovely time...of course!)

Shortly, I will be able to extract photos from my camera again and share an great adventure with Ruy and Romy plus there will be a post dedicated to this week, when we have my mum staying with us.

Please enjoy a few (more) photos of my beautiful adopted hometown, seen through the eyes of my friends, Janice and Mark and with the words of Janice and myself.

Visiting Annie part 1: Pasea, descubre y cuentalo.