Casa Rosales

Casa Rosales

Friday 27 December 2013

Moving on...

We've had a lovely Christmas, all things being equal. We'd intended to go down to the coast on 23rd but in the end, we decided to go into Granada. FR had seen a funfair and thought it might help to distract Ruy and Romy from their struggle to come to terms with Darwin's dreadful demise.

They were very brave and enjoyed themselves despite it being difficult to smile at times. The setting was spectacular and the small fair was in the grounds of some big warehouses that were home for the 'Muestras de Armilla'. (Armilla is a village of Granada and a muestra is an exhibition.) It was incredibly noisy inside the big spaces and there was a lot that was just a waste of space too, but in amongst, there were some interesting things to see and do.

The setting was spectacular, with the snowy Sierra Nevada behind the huge chimney and glorious blue skies.

There was a large model railway set up at one of end of one of the three main exhibition halls. We'd arrived when there was nothing running...but we were assured that on the hour, there would be movement...

A smile (almost) was raised in the police exhibition area when the children were allowed to go on the huge police bike...

I rather fancied sitting on it myself. I remember as a 5 year old, being allowed to sit and play on our nextdoor neighbour's motorbike and it has stuck in my memory ever since.

This looks as though Romy might have been wrong to set the siren off without least he didn't put her in the back seat.

Manoeuvring a remote controlled truck around an obstacle course required a lot of concentration....

This is a lot of concentration....

There was a zip wire - quite a big one - and both Ruy and Romy were keen to have a go....

But even that failed to raise a smile for Ruy... poor Ruy. He's been very, very hard hit. We're sharing lots of hugs as and when needed.

We gave the impressive Viking long boat a wide berth although I bet the view was fantastic as it swung from side to side. (I would be probably hanging over the edge though, not caring about anything if I went it it. I remember going in one once many years ago and hanging on for what seemed a lifetime before it eventually, and mercifully, came to a stop. Never again!)

No, we didn't manage to raise much of a smile on Ruy's face.

However, I found a very nice stand inside one of the pavillions that was a dog rescue centre based near Santa Fe, not too far away for us. I spoke to a lovely German woman who worked there who said they always had dogs and puppies in that needed adopting or rehoming. I think we might pay her a visit in the not too distant future.
Christmas morning was lovely.

With everyone very happy with what they got.

And the tree looking very comfortable in the corner of the den, where we all sat round opening our presents.

And acting in the usual clownish way...

After lunch, the children continued playing with the surprise star of the gift show - Storycubes. These are a set of 9 dice with pictures on each face. You throw them, look at the pictures and then make up a story that is inspired by the images. Romy and Ruy spent almost the whole day telling stories!

 Romy was heard telling stories on her own, later on in her own room. Absolutely perfect for her!

Once upon a time, there was a little bee, whose name was ...

And who wouldn't want a pair of knitted wellies for Christmas?

I did, but they didn't have my size. These are Romy's.

We had a few moments of real sadness - particularly around mealtimes. FR has been much more affected than he thought possible. He's usually first up in the mornings and it's been really hard to go downstairs and not find Darwin, still dozy from sleep, stretching and reaching up for a morning stroke. And having no one to pass on the bits left on plates...very hard on Christmas Eve, when we had barbequed ribs. Never has our appetite been so dulled. We saved the bones for Sergio's dogs.
The weather - which has been so lovely and bright and sunny for so long - was appalling on Christmas Day. The wind was relentless and very strong and we had driving rain from morning to night. This caused the metal fly curtain that we have outside the door to keep rattling against the glass - always a sign that Darwin wanted to come in....that was very hard.

On Boxing Day - not a day recognised in Spain as a holiday - our English friends, Sam and Dave and their two daughters came over. Originally, Dave wasn't coming at first - this is his first year working on the olive harvest, which is gruelling work but cannot be done in the rain. After the deluge of Christmas Day, the ground was too wet to go back on Boxing Day, so we had the whole family together which was lovely.

And we had a great afternoon and evening - and of course, the girls stayed the night which pleased Romy no end! We played a crazy game of Uno, ate well and had plenty to drink. It felt like a proper family Christmas celebration and we're so glad they could come.

It doesn't look wild, does it? But we had such a laugh!!

And the next day, there was much jumping on the trampoline. I love these photos.

And yes, Ruy is smiling again.  It was our first Christmas in our new home and it was one we will never forget - for both the right and not so right reasons.We're moving on.

And towards a New Year. Hope you've all had a very Happy Christmas.

Sunday 22 December 2013

Darling Darwin...gone forever

As I was posting my last, mellow Christmas post, my poor darling Darwin was dying. It is absolutely devastating, not just for myself but for the children, who are heartbroken.
He slipped out of the gate just before we had lunch, something he's taken to doing recently. Usually, he's back within half an hour. This time, after two hours, we were concerned.

Mateo, Ruy and I went out at about 4 o'clock and wandered all over the village, expecting to catch a sight of his curly white coat. But there was nothing. I came back about an hour later, thinking he'd be waiting at the gate. Waiting for the lamb bones we'd saved him from lunchtime - but no. He wasn't.

FR and I set off in the car a bit later as Ruy hadn't come home either and I was getting worried about him - and imagining all sorts. From across the fields, we saw a neighbour signalling us and so drove over. As soon as I saw his face, I knew the worst. He said he'd found Darwin in his pool - drowned. No one has any idea how it happened. Darwin wasn't the type to jump into a pool and there is no clue as to why he went in. But that's where he was found - no marks on him; nothing to indicate anything had happened.

We found Ruy, who was fine and on his way home - fine until we told him. It's hit him very hard. It's hit all of us very hard.

We have now buried our lovely, daft, hairy, lovable friend and now we will have to wait and see how we will manage with the great hole he has left in our lives.

He belonged from the minute we saw him.

He was always there

The most sweet natured dog ever.
Always within reach

We are going to miss him so, so much.

Christmas Greetings

Despite super-bright sunshine, we are at last beginning to feel rather Christmassy in our house. We dug out the Christmas trimmings from the store room and although the tree doesn't go in the lounge as there's no room - it looks nice and friendly at the top of the stairs in the children's den. We've received rather more cards than I sent...but I unexpectedly sold out of all the Christmas cards I'd made! Thank you Alan for stocking them in your shop!

We've done all but a little of our Christmas shopping and tomorrow, we're going to finish that off, combining it with a trip to the beach in Malaga. The weather is so delightful, it seems a shame not to make the most of it.

We have an evil-looking but sweet-smelling concoction in a saucepan on top of the wood-burner - a mixture of fresh rosemary, orange peel, cardamon, cloves, nutmeg and mixed spice - so there's a background ambience of Christmas which is particularly lovely as you walk down the stairs first thing in the morning.

I finished making chocolates and have only a few left - just enough for us to enjoy some ourselves. We have a traditionally Spanish menu for Christmas Eve, or Noche Buena, which is the main family meal here in Spain, not one on Christmas Day. We will have some homemade pumpkin soup, smoked salmon (though we shall probably get some prawns too) and then leg of lamb. I have CRACKERS!! And on Christmas Day, when we are forecast to get snow, about which Ruy and Romy are delighted, we have a lovely stuffed turkey breast ready to cook, prepared for me by an expat ex-butcher. Oh, and my mum's carefully saved Christmas cake. I think we'll be OK....and may have to go for many long walks to avoid being too slobby. Fortunately, we won't just slump in front of the television all day - we have access to the internet but no live TV - so we may choose to watch a favourite film but not much more as I am planning some games. I have to - it's a family tradition. My mum created some great ones over the years. Actually, the games will wait until Boxing Day, when my friend is coming over with her two daughters. Her husband is working on the olive harvest this year and has only Christmas Day and New Year's Day off in three months - unless, of course, the weather is bad and then no one works. It's too dangerous to take the tractors to the muddy olive groves - especially as most of them are on ridiculously steep inclines.

The fact that the harvest always happens at this time of year makes a big difference to how Christmas is celebrated...if it's celebrated much at all. Most of my students are 'underwhelmed' and I haven't been able to find a single one who feels excited at the approach of Christmas Day. Traditionally, gifts are brought by the Three Kings on 6th January, and as it's usually the thought of presents that gets children excited, then the 24th is just a family meal night for most and nothing more. A few have succumbed to the pressure of Santa's presence and presents but not that many - and fewer for those families still in the grip of 'la crisis'.

I was most pleasantly surprised this week. I have only been teaching at my new academy since the end of October or the beginning of November and only for one afternoon, but I was presented with a lovely basket of goodies by Melanie and Jose as a thank you. I was really touched!

All in all, I am feeling very mellow as we get into the holiday spirit - and, as I have sung this song with almost all my classes over and over again, I've chosen to include a slightly different version of it here:

The Twelve Days of some!

Have a great one.

Tuesday 10 December 2013

Sierra Nevada Sunday.

The children have had two days off school - Friday and Monday - so an extra-long weekend has been enjoyed. Because the summer holiday is so long, there are no half-terms to break up the school year - it can make each trimester seem quite exhausting, so we were all glad of a few days without the early rise and the demands of school life.

Friday was a wallowy sort of day - I don't think Mateo got up until lunch was ready (and considering we eat around 3pm, that's LATE!) - although I was busy making chocolates for Saturday's stall. Ruy and Romy reverted to children who play together, which always makes me happy, even though it happens a little less as they grow up. Saturday was Christmas Market day and a return home to a delicious lunch made by FR whilst we were away. And then we all sat down in the afternoon to watch a movie together - Ruy's choice - Men in Black 4. Daft, funny and about right for how we all felt.

Sunday, we had decided to go sledging in the Sierra Nevada. About three weeks ago, my beloved mountains had turned white again with the first snowfall of the new season. However, for the subsequent three weeks, we've had nothing but bright sunshine every day and I did think the white of the peaks looked a little less white as we were returning from the market on Saturday - surely there'd be snow still?

Sunny, sunny day
The day dawned very frosty but the sun soon came out - as usual - and it seemed strange to be packing sledges into the back of the car, along with extra clothing, boots and hot chocolate, rather than beach gear!

We had to leave an ever-hopeful Darwin behind this year. We don't yet have a seat belt for him and it's law that dogs are restrained in cars or that they travel in cages....he did so want to come!

Bright, bright blue skies at home - would we find snow?

(We had a Plan snow, we'd head for the coast! Win, win.)
Poor Darwin...bye Darwin....

As we climbed up and up the road to Pradollano, the main ski resort in Granada, there was a distinct lack of the white stuff.....

And then we got a little glimpse ...

Enough to get out and have a mini snowball fight....

Although even at 2500m high there was not that much snow to get very excited about....

But where there's a will, there's a way
And we weren't alone in enjoying the smattering of snow that was on the mountain sides...

Romy and Mateo making a joint descent

Can't decide whether it's an optical illusion, but Mateo looks to have his hands in his pockets...

All three trekking back for yet another run. Yes, I did have a go - no one thought to capture it on camera (thank goodness!)

Romy took this photo of the moon, which had been steadily rising as the afternoon went on....

And she took this great shot of the sun and the snow....

FR and his apres-sledge sandwich - enjoying the spectacular views

After we'd eaten our sandwiches and indulged in some more of my rather good hot chocolate - perfect setting to drink it - we decided to take the scenic route home via Guejar Sierra, which was on the north side of the valley, facing the Sierra Nevada. It was a very narrow road and felt very different to the south side of the mountain - obviously much colder due to the lack of sunshine, but different trees, including lots of apple orchards. The children kept saying it smelt like England - I think it was the dampness....

Reaching Guejar Sierra, we found this lovely family shop, run by a sweet old lady and her very cantankerous husband. I'd asked if it was OK to take some photos and she'd said yes, but the old man was very cross to hear my clicking and shouted at her! Oops....glad I asked her and not him!

We bought some delicious apples, which I guess came from some of the orchards we'd seen.

There were also lots of walnuts that sent FR into ecstasy - so we bought some of those too.

I was delighted to find such a lovely place - they had a bit of all sorts on offer, much of it from their own land. It wasn't cheap but you could taste the goodness.

I had some big onions too - I love onions!!
View of the not very snowy Sierra from where we stopped to take a nice hot coffee before heading off home as the sun set.

It was dark, but not late when we arrived home, still glowing from the sun and the snow. Darwin was delighted to see us again. I had a moment's reflection on how nice it was to be out altogether for the first time in a while - I do hope we do it again sometime soon.  It's a fine balance as to when to go again - if it snows a lot, then we will need chains on the car to be allowed to go up the mountain, which we don't have - and if it doesn't snow again soon, there'll be no snow to sledge on! 

I wonder if we'll have much snow in Villalobos? We have some nice slopes nearby that we could enjoy very easily if we do...