Casa Rosales

Casa Rosales

Thursday, 13 November 2014

There was a 'tap, tap' at the window....

Christmas is coming and the goose is getting fat, 
so please put a penny in the old man's hat.
If you haven't got a penny, a ha'penny will do.
If you haven't got a ha'penny, then God bless you!

Christmas is a coming, the lights are on the tree.
How about a turkey leg for dear old me?
If you haven't got a turkey leg, a turkey wing will do.
If you haven't got a turkey wing may God bless you!

No, I'm not wanting to speed the approach of Christmas up but these lines are in my head quite often at the moment, although I didn't know the second stanza shown here until very recently!

A few weeks ago, FR went out to buy a couple of young cockerels. Our hens are not laying many eggs at the moment - mainly since the days got shorter and there's less light for them. They are out every day and never stop eating, but I've had to resort to buying a couple of dozen eggs in town as we simply don't have enough! Oh, the shame! FR thinks that the cockerels might help solve the problem...

When he returned, it was clear the problem isn't going to be solved anytime soon as the cockerels were teeny, tiny little things! He did have an extra creature with him though, which he announced was our Christmas dinner...a white turkey. Poor thing, he looked very scraggy and unattractive and the hens bullied, chased and pecked at him dreadfully to begin with. 

However, as the weeks have gone by and he's eaten well (I am sure he's a 'he') and grown in size and confidence, he's also developed a lovely personality. He wakes us in the morning, 'pew, pewing' outside the house, encouraging FR to get up and feed him. His call is so 'pewy' that I have named him Barney McGrew. Anyone who saw Trumpton in the 1960s and 70s can't fail to remember the Fire Brigade and the roll call. Barney McGrew comes after 'Pugh, Pugh'.....OK it's a slightly tenuous link but Barney walks a bit like the characters in Trumpton too....Here's a little reminder or taster (if you're completely in the dark here!)

And as always, I digress...a little.

As we sat in a postprandial slumber the other afternoon, there was a 'tap, tap' at the window. I went to investigate...

And had to look a little closer ...

And there was Barney, a little damp in the rain, tapping on the window. Maybe just to say 'Hi', maybe to say, 'Did you know it was raining?', maybe to say, 'Any food left?'.....So sweet.

I am currently reading up on vegetarian Christmas dinner options......

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Finding Dory...

11 years ago this month a lovely Pixar film came out called 'Finding Nemo'. Ostensibly for children, but I remember going to the cinema to see it with my boys and a friend and her two girls and both she and I were utterly enchanted from the very first moment and confessed afterwards to shedding a few tears towards the end....

But I won't bore you with the details, other than to say it's an emotional roller coaster of a story, set underwater and starring a variety of fish,sharks, turtles and birds. There's also an Australian dentist and his rather scary young niece. It's fantastic. Watch it.

And for me, the star of the film was a cheerful, helpful and friendly blue fish called Dory. She captured my heart from the very beginning and although the voice sounded really familiar, I couldn't place the actor who voiced the part. And even when I discovered it was Ellen Degeneres, I wasn't familiar enough with her to be able to work out why Dory seemed so very well-known to me.

We bought the video and my children watched it over and over, and so did I. And had to admit that I identified with Dory. Not just because she has a short-term memory problem....though that was a part of it....but because she's an eternal optimist and utterly trusting, generous and good natured. Is this a self-portrait? No, I definitely not saying I am like this all the time but I have days where I definitely feel 'Doryish'. And there's also the occasional panic when my memory does let me down....and then I forget all about it and am happy again!

So, Dory was a favourite of mine from the beginning and then one day at work, in the office of the Education Service, a couple of teachers from one of the Special Schools came in with some art work done by the children. It was a set of characters from 'Finding Nemo' made from papier mache - and it included the lovely Dory. At the end of the period of the exhibition, I put in a request and a donation to be able to keep Dory and she stood in a corner of my office until the day I left. And then I had to bequeath her care to a willing friend, Helen, And Helen has been taking care of her ever since.

UNTIL!!! Last weekend, Denise and Jim paid us a special visit - special because despite Jim's illness, the two of them are on a great adventure around France and Spain. They have their home in Orkney and had travelled down from there, stopping off in Huddersfield where Helen had the wonderful idea of asking them to bring Dory back to me! So Dory has travelled in the back of the car through Belgium, France, over the Pyrenees, all the way through Spain and right to Alcala la Real.

I was delighted - and here we are - happily reunited. Daft as it seems, it has really moved me to have her back. Thank you Helen, thank you Denise - and good on you Dory,  you keep on swimming, just keep swimming.

And I'm quite surprised and pleased to discover that my title for this blog is also rather prophetic as Pixar are making a film of the same title to be released in 2016. Think I will definitely be seeing that one! If I remember, that is....

Thursday, 30 October 2014

All good here....

I might not be writing much but all is well in our part of the world.

Last week was great as we had visitors and I do like having visitors! Sam and family were back in Alcala for half-term and we had a couple of catch-up coffees together and our conversation carried on as if there'd been no distance between us for the past few months...good!

And then on Friday, FR's youngest brother came to stay with his girlfriend - who just happens to be English too. They managed a great night out with FR as soon as they arrived, as it was Noche en Blanco in Granada, when the whole of the city was in fiesta and the streets were humming with street performers and dancing. Then the next couple of days we all enjoyed doing a variety of things together - talking/ walking/ cycling/ visiting town depending on who felt like doing what and when. Ruben helped to lay a temporary path to the door which has greatly improved access to the house - he also persuaded the children to clean the car, had an archery competition with Ruy (which he lost..) and gamely cycled into Alcala with Mateo on Sunday morning - a very tough ride - but one which they both enjoyed.

Ruy, Romy and I took them into Alcala to show them the main sights and to stop and have tapas and a drink in the park. It seemed strangely quiet at first as we'd forgotten there was a big football match on but it soon livened up to its usual 'buzz' of folk on the streets. It's not Palma de Mallorca but they were both impressed with our lovely town and its history and friendly folk. And Nadia, who had been suffering a horrid bronchitis for several weeks, suddenly began to feel much better in the wonderful healing air that we have here at 1000m above sea level. Good stuff!

Ruy, Romy, Me, Nadia and a friendly street vendor lining up to complement the local wall art....
And on Sunday evening, Sam, Dave, their girls and our neighbour, Sergio, joined us and we had a great evening in the garden, eating one of FR's famous barbecues.

We've had amazingly hot, sunny days this week but the nights are definitely chilly now, hence Jasmine's fur-lined face! I hope Ruben doesn't see this, but then, he shouldn't have pulled a silly face. Such a handsome chap, he is!

I drank too much - which doesn't mean I drank a lot, cos I don't, but being unused to alcohol....well, methinks I do protest too much....but it didn't spoil the party; just made me a bit giggly and made me want to dance with my husband, but that's OK, I think!

We also spent an afternoon playing cards with Ruy and Romy and they both had the same idea at the same time - to put on their 'poker faces' was really creepy, but rather brilliant!

So, you see, all is well here and now the clocks have gone back, it's light for the children to go to school in the mornings...but feels so very late right now and it's only half past seven in the evening.

And this weekend, I am expecting to see an old work friend. She is currently on a mammoth drive through Scotland, England, France and Spain - all the way from Orkney!!  I know she'd got to Bordeaux last night so don't expect her before Saturday - but you never know! Writing about Denise could fill a book on its own, so I won't start now but you can expect to hear something about our meeting very soon.....

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!