Casa Rosales

Casa Rosales

Monday, 30 September 2013

The sudden onset of Autumn

We've spent the first summer here in our new house and although we knew we were enjoying it at the time, this morning, we realised again just how lovely it was to have a garden with a little pool and a nice cool house to escape the fierce Andalucian sun. Today, for the third day in a row, we have woken up to fog and low clouds creeping over the surrounding hilltops and in addition to the general dampness this creates, this morning we have had quite a heavy rainfall. The children have gone off to school in sensible footwear and raincoats - though Mateo chose to take an umbrella rather than a coat. I suspect we might not see that one again unless it's still raining at's hereditary, I always leave umbrellas around.

I don't mind too much - as Janice said before she arrived, she wasn't coming for the weather, she was coming to see me. However, my mum arrives tomorrow evening and I really want it to be pleasant weather for her. I know it's been a lovely summer in England this year and that she too is coming to see me and the children first and foremost, but really - she should be able to expect a little (heart) warming sunshine too. Last night, we lit our wood-burning stove, we'd been so damp and chilly all day. (Later on, we wished we hadn't as it did get a tad too hot!)

I am so hoping that these clouds will drop what they have to and then move on. I am so looking forward to Mum's visit - her second this year - and this time, as I'm not teaching in the afternoons, we will have the opportunity to perhaps visit Cordoba or one or two other lovely places a little further afield. That is, if I can prise her out of the garden!

And as the weather has turned chilly, my thoughts are turning to chocolate. I don't mind the cooler weather and shorter days at all really - it is 'making' time! I have an order currently making its way back from the UK. There are a couple of people around here who make their living by tripping backwards and forwards to the UK taking and collecting things for people, so as it works out cheaper and easier than any other option, I shall have all my usual stock here within the week! 

It really doesn't seem a moment since we were fending off the strong Andalucian sunshine and taking full advantage of the splash pool and enjoying long, long days....and I was eagerly counting the weeks, then the days until Janice arrived. And whoosh!! All good fun whilst it lasted but suddenly, she's been and gone. Gosh, is all I can say!! Thank goodness for blogging as it will be such fun to piece it all together again and see it from the outside too - making something tangible from our shared memories of the few days we had together. I am looking forward to that.

And now, I'm looking forward to tomorrow evening and hoping time doesn't rush by quite so quickly, though she's staying a bit longer that Janice and Mark did. Plus, I have a little surprise for her at the end of her time here - but hush, don't say a word just yet!

What's the weather like in your neck of the woods. Are you all mellow fruitfulness, or just damp and chilly - or are you gearing up to summer and sunshine?

(Fingers crossed my camera will be fixed very soon! Can't bear not being able to share photos!)

Have a misty old olive tree taken from Wikipedia for now...getting ready for harvest by the looks of it.

Sunday, 29 September 2013


This morning we awoke to creeping fog. A fog that was rolling over the tops of the mountains and towards us. No sunshine for Janice and Mark's last view of beautiful Andalucia was what I thought as I peered out of the window. We had spent much of the previous day together and spent a little planning how to publish a set of shared posts about our get-together. You will have to wait a little while until Janice gets home before we can make a start on those. As my camera isn't working properly at the moment, I have no sneaky pictures to share before she gets home - we will have to wait!

And I am only going to blog here that I've just had a phone call from her to say that they've reached their overnight stop-off point on their journey home and have enjoyed a beach walk in beautiful sunshine in a place our family once holiday'd and liked, Alcossebre. This is great news because here at home, it's miserable and damp to such an extent that FR lit the stove for us! I think that tomorrow, they are planning on visiting another of my favourite spots, just over the French border, the very pretty town of Collioure. It will be more than thirty years since I was there but friends of mine who have visited since assure me it's still very lovely there. It should round off their holiday beautifully.

I shall leave you with a photo of Collioure and those of you who know Janice can imagine her sitting and having her lunch here tomorrow - and join me in raising a glass to her very good health.

Picture courtesy of 'The Guardian'
(And I know I keep adding Mark in brackets but he too has been great company and I've really enjoyed getting to know him better!!)

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Stop press...

Just to say that this afternoon, a tired but cheerful Janice (and Mark) arrived safely in Alcala la Real. They were waiting for me by the fountain as FR brought me into town to meet them.

We've had a lovely few hours together back at Sam and Dave's lovely B&B, watching the sun set behind La Mota - there'll be quite a number of photos of this as it's an amazing sight - even for a hardened veteran like me - as first-timers it's quite easy to be blown away completely.

We're meeting up again tomorrow and will be planning a joint blogging strategy...but wanted to capture my enormous pleasure at having Janice (and Mark - sorry Mark!) here with me. I can hardly believe it!!

There will be more!

Tuesday, 24 September 2013


I would really have liked to tell you about the amazing adventure that Ruy and Romy had on Sunday when we visited the 'Amazonia Aventura' park in Granada as part of Ruy's birthday treat. It was a rope climbing, zip-wiring, tree-swinging time and I took lots of photographs as they dangled precariously above my head...but for various technical reasons, I am unable to extract said photos from camera. All options have failed me but hopefully, a small piece of technology is winging its way to me in the post as I type. And then I shall post - with great pride - the achievements of my adventurers.

So, because I should really be cleaning my house to impress Janice when she arrives in a couple of days - because sod's law has it that we are back in a state of total chaos just as my visitors are due (my mum arrives on Tuesday too!!) - of course, my blogging fingers have suddenly become irresistibly itchy. Janice won't mind if things aren't absolutely immaculate, I'm sure. She told me she doesn't mind what the weather is like either, which is good as it's forecast rain for the weekend (boo!) so just for a few minutes or ten, I'm going to share some pages from my notebook.

I have been seriously bitten by the Zentangle bug. (I'm suppose to put a little copyright symbol next to that word but I can't find it right now. When I do, I'll go back and put it on...) It's basically doodling with style and intent. It's something I have always done - repetitive, attractive patterns to make borders on pages or to fill the time in boring meetings. I found rather a nice one in an old work notebook that turned up in one of our many boxes - dating back to 2005 - so to discover that there are lots and lots of folk out there who also do this thing is quite a revelation. Especially as it's possible to become a teacher of it! CZT indicates a person is a Certified Zentangle Teacher....

I've spent time in front of the computer screen looking at the hundreds and hundreds of patterns for ones I particularly like and want to try, filling scraps of paper with complex patterns. I've started to put them all into one book so that I have them all together. Some people create individual cards with instructions on each one and then list and file them beautifully but I do feel that perhaps life is a little too short to catalogue one's doodles. Possibly if I'd started 30 years ago it might just be OK but it feels wrong at my stage of life...

Anyway, without further ado and with apologies that acknowledgements of where the patterns come from are only where I can trace them - Pinterest is brilliant for capturing things you like but not always easy to establish the origins of things - here are some of my Zentangle-inspired doodles, made in order to use in more complex pieces. Just a word of warning - if you are remotely interested in doodling and drawing, advance with caution. This is highly addictive!!

The circles are called 'Cruffles' and were created by Sandy Hunter. Not sure if 'Helena' is the creator of the border or whether that's the name of the tangle... Don't know where the shell came from  but I've used it quite a bit.

The 'Schmoozy' flower is by Kelly Yackel and Joanna Fink is the inspiration for the column tangles.

This one is called 'W2', created by the originators of Zentangle. 
It includes a note to self!

Carla Barnet's feather triangle gave me a few problems to start with but eventually, I got it! Rather like this one!
The bud's are quite sweet too and nice and easy to draw. I gave up on Paradox but didn't really follow any instructions. Most Zentangles are wonderfully simple requiring nothing more than concentration - not artistic ability. But if you try and work something out by copying what you see, it invariably goes wrong!

The top one shows the original shape on the right and my tangled version on the left - rather liked doing that one.

I sat and copied someone on YouTube making the Celtic Knot look ridiculously easy...I still made a mistake. I got sidetracked at the triangle one so just ignore that!

Again, a couple of  original Zentangle patterns. Aura Star and Mooka. I much prefer Mooka - when it flows, it really flows though it can take a couple of attempts to get started! Watch Maria doing it to really see how it can flow.

Leeann Denzer is an incredible artist - I love her work and her doodles in particular. I took a bit of time over 'Bracelet' and you can see the difference that the shading makes to a tangle! The idea is to make part of the tangle 'pop' out.  Don't know where the jester sun (my name) came from but I rather liked that. Cadent is an original tangle and 'Banners' is by Elaine Benfatto.

These beautiful stacked ribbon petals are by an incredible artist, Helen Williams, whose blog is entitled
'a little lime'. Check out how this can really look. Not sure where the budding thing came from on the right but the one on the left is called 'We three' by Cindy Pope. Also here is a bunch of 'Cruffles' and something else that I can't name...cos I don't know.

The top one is a 'Schmelly Fish' by artroom 46. There's a bit more 'We three' in the top right hand corner. The section through the middle isn't strictly Zentangle - it really is just 'doodling' though I don't know whether the untrained eye can see a difference....?
Underneath is one of my favourites and I feel awful because I really liked this woman's work and yet didn't reference her anywhere - I shall keep searching til I find her again. The 'Ferns' and 'Seaheart' aren't entirely my own design but I use them quite a bit and each time they 'evolve'. Can't find where I got the original from. Ditto the scrolls in the bottom right hand corner. They look great with shading!
Again, one of my idea what it could be called. And some toadstools that followed naturally from it without seeing them anywhere else. More banners only with shading - look at the difference! And Rouche is by Rose Brown.
And here are a few of my little 'creations'. I need to improve my colouring and shading techniques but these are possibly the most artistic things I have ever done in my life!

 This one is called 'Sammee' and is for a friend  who inspired it. I ended up mounting it on a bright pink card and it stands out much better.

This is 'Seaheart'

This one is 'Seapearl' and was FR's favourite. It's his now.

 This one is called 'Tewlip' for obvious reasons though why I had to change the spelling is less obvious. This has a lot of detail that doesn't show up too well on the computer screen.

And this is 'Tiger Horns' - yes, I know, I need to think of much better names if I'm going to name them. I took a bit more time in colouring this one though I'm not sure if it's made much difference. 

Anyway, indulgence over. Somehow, when I look at them onscreen, rather than in my book, they come to life and I can take a more objective view. I am blown away by some of the work that people have created and this style of art really does appeal to me - lots of intricate detail and complex-looking patterns. I have started seeing patterns everywhere I go now - in the countryside, in the street, in architecture and just around me. 

This may not be the last you hear of me and Zentangle!

Thursday, 19 September 2013

News from my small blogging world

Blogging has increased my circle of friends in a wonderful way. Today, I want to say a special hello to Perpetua, who I know is becoming rather nervous about an approaching eye operation. It's not a little thing to have to face but I know there are so very many people thinking about you, Perpetua, and hoping that all goes smoothly for you. Those nerves won't go away, I know, but at least it will very soon be all done. You are in a lot of people's thoughts right now.

Gaynor, I'm still waiting to hear back from the Notaire in Tournon St. Martin as I start formal proceedings to sort out my house in Lurais. I just wanted to say a huge thank you for making the trip out to Les Basses Granges to check out the state of the property these days. It amused me greatly that you and Tim and your friend were on that little lane leading up to my house there and was delighted with the photos you took, especially to see the little shrine infront of the house again! It was absolutely above and beyond the call of a blogging 'contact' to do this for me but I feel it was done out of genuine friendship and I'm so grateful. Did Tom receive his birthday cake in Japan?

And in just about a week's time, I shall be waiting for the phone call from Janice (not in Caunes at the time of calling, I hope!) and Mark to say that they have made the long drive down and have arrived safely in Alcala la Real. I know they've had a busy few days - a new grandson made an appearance a couple of weeks early - and so, before setting off to Spain, they flew back to the UK to visit him. He hasn't made it onto the blog yet, but I've seen a few beautiful photos posted on Facebook, so I know he's absolutely gorgeous and worth the trip back to see.

I understand Janice has a friend who lives just north of Valencia, whom she and Mark will be visiting before heading south. She only just missed the opportunity to visit Helen, of Venomous Bead blogging fame, who has a house nearby but who has now returned to Costa Rica. That would have been excellent fun - except I would have been dreadfully envious - how I'd love to spend some time with Helen - and it would have made the wait for her to arrive seem almost unbearable!

Not much more than a year ago, Janice and I decided that at some point in 2013, we must meet up. After working in the same local authority for many years, it's been blogging, not working that seems to have brought us really close and in tune with each other. Our work circles didn't overlap that much which in retrospect seems such a shame. We had much greater opportunities to get together in the past. It's not quite so easy now. And Janice has had quite a year. Those of you who have followed her journey through illness and recovery must agree that she has been absolutely incredible throughout. I have said it before, but I am filled with admiration for her approach.

We met at Christmas when I came back to spend a few days with family. It was a very special hug we shared - if ever a hug spoke words, that one did. For my part, it was a 'thank goodness; you're doing so be brave and strong and get completely better' sort of hug. And now for that meet up! Hurray!!

And now she is and will be here in just a few days time. I'm pretty sure we'll be sharing our days together with those of you who are our shared blogging pals...who will be next for a meet up??

See you soon!

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Where to start...

This has been an incredibly hectic and busy week. We're all quite exhausted but beginning to get back into some sort of routine.

Here we are again! Looks like we've just arrived.
Last week saw FR and Mateo making the long trip north to Leon in order to bring back all - or nearly all - of the rest of our belongings. They left on Thursday morning, loaded up the van on Friday and drove all the way back on Saturday. Then we all helped unload as the van needed returning first thing on Sunday morning - as a thunderstorm threatened us and huge dollops of rain kept falling...then stopping...then falling...and so on, just to wind us up. (This photo taken on Sunday morning first thing.)

And I don't remember falling into bed or even sleeping that night. Mateo and FR were completely zonked.

But it didn't end there of course. On Sunday, we had to start sorting out the havoc that had descended on our house. Our lovely house, which suddenly felt woefully small, cramped and inadequate. And in a huge mess as though we'd just moved in.

The lounge wasn't big to start with...

We have to ask ourselves why some things have made it this far...

And I'd like you to look very carefully at the object at the back of the table. Yes, it's a baby's bottle steriliser. FR keeps rescuing it and refuses to let me get rid of it! I'm fighting a losing battle.
The giant 'lego' bucket is full of white stones from the beach at Bridlington...they're mine...
Actually, it doesn't look as bad in the photos as it felt in reality!

Inamongst all the books, kids paintings, photos and more books were one or two items that we were really pleased to see.

This bowl was made in Yorkshire, by Eric Stockl, whose son, Mark used to be a wonderful guitarist, but who packed music in to become a boat-builder based in Ullapool. I love my bowl. It was a gift from another very talented artist friend, Mel Davies.

For the artists in our family - we have an easel and paint trays.

This old telephone belonged to my Auntie Gladys. I have this and a beautiful turquoise teapot of hers. 

Mateo had this giant sized poster in his room when he first started high school - I don't think he ever looked at it or if he did, it didn't seem to register...he ALWAYS forgot something.

There are still many, many things to be put away but after several days hard work, we've definitely made progress and FR has done a sterling job in clearing the outhouses to store what won't fit inside the house.

In the meantime, it has been Ruy's birthday today. He's 12 and yesterday, he started secondary school. It's been all go. He showed great skill at archery when he, Romy and Mateo went to do an archery session last March and he asked for a bow for his birthday. Yesterday evening, having spent an age trying to track down a decent starter bow, I found a shop not too far away that had several that we could go and see. Just before we arrived, I had a sinking feeling. I'd spoken on the phone to confirm things with the shop owner, but had forgotten to mention one tiny little fact - Ruy's left-handed. And of course, they didn't have single bow for people of his bent...sigh. However, the journey wasn't wasted as he was able to try out the right size bow for his height and strength and we met some people from the Archery club, so got some very good advice. He has one on order and it looks very impressive. Photos to follow.

This morning was too early to celebrate too much - none of us are at our best at 7am - so it wasn't until later this afternoon that we sang and ate cake.

And we sang and ate quite a lot of cake - a themed one made by a friend who lives quite near and who is doing very well with her new cake business, Golosaria.

We're going to do a little joint venturing as the weather turns suitable for chocolate making...should be good fun!

OK...We're still in quite a lot of mess but at least we found a corner to put the cake down!

And a handmade, zentangle-inspired birthday card from me. I must learn how to make it look as though the name is making the splash...I'll work on it!

My lovely, careful, wise and practical boy. Twelve years old today.
Happy Birthday Ruy. We all love you very much.

Monday, 9 September 2013

Body and mind bending

I know I've said it before, I never said I didn't repeat myself. I do. But here I go again...

Isn't the internet amazing!!

I logged onto my blog yesterday and as usual, had a look at my twirling globe to see where my visitors might be coming from...who was I virtually connected to. And someone was visiting from Woking. (Hello, if it's you from Woking reading this post!) It set my mind back to my University days when my circle of friends included a trombone player from Woking.

A thumbnail sketch...many weekends spent drinking, playing music, going out and more drinking often led to this friend sleeping on the sofa, floor or just against the wall of the house we shared then with four others. He was long-haired, bespectacled and bearded at the time and one of the most laconic and taciturn creatures who would suddenly burst into spontaneous and infection laughter. He drove a red 2 CV and we once met him and his girlfriend whilst on holiday in the north of Spain - by complete accident - and when he got out of the car to greet us, it was just as if we'd met in the local supermarket.

One of my overriding memories of him is going to Bognor Regis one summer's day. He and my ex had taken their euphoniums with you do...and the pair of them waded out to sea, with their instruments and proceeded to amuse the promenaders with various renditions.They drew quite a crowd. I remember 'Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside' went down very well, but probably not everyone appreciated 'For those in peril on the sea' quite as much. I laughed until I cried. And am laughing now as I remember.

I didn't find many links when I googled him - as you do - (oh, don't you? I do!) but came across quite a lot of 'Upcott' references... his rather unusual surname. And then I found a photo of an Upcott family - and there was a clean-shaven, smiling friend! And a few of his sons and daughters...two of whom are WORLD CHAMPION ACROBATS!! Not just good acrobats, not just British Champions but both Edward and Alice are or have been World Champions. And both were in the group, Spelbound, that I now know won 'Britain's Got Talent' in 2010. Just take a look at this amazing young man - I can't believe half of what he does is physically possible!

I was able to contact his father and he wrote back very quickly - he has five children and lives just half a dozen miles away from where I used to live. I do vaguely remember that his shoulder used to dislocate very easily - I wonder whether this loose-jointedness in his children comes from him? I have never seen body control like Edward's before though. Do watch and be wowed.

This post is called body and mind bending. Well, I certainly can't and don't body bend very much these days but I've been bending my mind with a new thing I found (guess where...on the internet) called 'Zentangle' which takes doodling to another place entirely. I have always been a doodler and always done quite complicated patterns. But I haven't been doing it properly....not until this week. Now my head is full of wild and wonderful repeating patterns and no piece of paper is fact, I've even doodled on some nice flat stones I found in one of my collections and I gave Ruy a wonderful temporary doodled tattoo the other day.

So, what does serious doodling look like?


I started top right and there are nine squares, which I completed from right to left, top to bottom and I think my last square, bottom left, is my favourite...

Well, I've finished bottling fruit and making jam. I had to do SOMETHING!!

How do you doodle?

Sunday, 8 September 2013

There was a time...

..when being cheerful and happy wasn't my style...just so you know.

I did NOT want to pose for my photograph. And I remember it clearly - I didn't feel like smiling and didn't want my Uncle Keith to take my photo. Well, would you with that haircut? And a skirt made to match my mother's dress. (I always wonder where her other leg is...?)

Smile?  No way. No how. 

Friday, 6 September 2013


'Looming' implies something rather threatening, doesn't it? It also means imminent. In our house it's a bit of both. On Tuesday, Romy - being our only Primary student now - starts back at school on her own. And she's going to a new school - again. Since we moved house, we've been trying to persuade the local council to allow our children to use the free school transport but they haven't budged. If we want to use the bus, we have to send our children to the specific schools - and last year, Ruy and Romy went to the Primary school that DIDN'T provide for children from the villages.

Just before the end of term, Romy agreed to go for a few days to the other school, just across the road from her own, where the bus collects and returns the children to the villages every day. And gives them lunch too. (Not the bus, the school, of course!) Under no pressure, she gave the new school the clear thumbs up and said she'd be happy to go there in the new school year. Alcala is a small and close enough community for her to already know several of the children there and, as a bi-lingual child who has achieved excellent standards in her Spanish studies, she's being welcomed with open arms...

And she's really rather excited about going in on the first day and getting to know her new classmates - whilst still having lots of friends in her old school. Being a sociable and adaptable girl, and rather more mature than many of her contemporaries, I have no doubts she will be absolutely fine. More than fine.

Ruy has finished Primary School and now, like Mateo, is entitled to take the bus to any of the two main Secondary schools in town. He starts at Alfonso XI next week, just a day before his 12th birthday and admits to being a tad nervous. Unlike when I moved to Secondary school, not knowing how many of my friends would be there or who would be in class with me - all but two of Ruy's current classmates are going to the same school. I think he will be fine too. It's a big jump from Primary to Secondary, but Ruy is always wanting to be slightly older than he really is - so much so we often get confused at his birthday time. From the day after he was 11, he has talked about being nearly 12 - and even before he actually reaches this number, he's ready to be a 'proper teenager' at 13. I suspect it's all because he is desperate for a mobile phone. Apparently, he's the only one in his class who doesn't have one. Tough!

And whilst I do hope it doesn't mark the end of the close relationship he and Romy have - they've played and laughed and fought and generally been great company for each other for many years now - it feels like this summer might be the one of the last where they really haven't needed anyone else as long as they've had each other.

And Mateo has grown up and changed so much in the past few months. He's still a boy in many ways, but I caught him with my zoom lens the other day - you can tell he's a tad suspicious in the second photo - but he looks very grown up all of a sudden to me. He got contact lenses about a month ago and is just doing that 'emerging' from behind his specs that I remember doing when I was 16. He starts his final year in ESO - which is the last of obligatory education. He's chosen social science subjects as he harbours a strong interest in studying Anthropology at University. He'll have to apply himself to the subjects he's not so keen on too in order to get there.

But I do believe he knows that and I should just let him get on with it. (This is a 'note to self' that nagging has a negative effect and I must try and remember!)

Yes, that look is definitely a suspicious one!

The new school year is also a 'loomer' for the family that is part owl and no part lark. We are all dreading the early morning rise. There have been days when Mateo hasn't seen the morning hours at all other than those between midnight and 2am...

Our first summer in La Casa Rosales has been a lovely, long and lazy one. I have adjusted remarkably well to not working in the afternoons - by working just about every morning! I've been teaching two little girls twice a week and it's been an absolute joy. The good thing is they want to continue after school begins so I shall go and teach them at home a couple of evenings a week. They've made a book of Nursery Rhymes over the course of their classes and have illustrated each of the songs. The eldest, Rocio, has a real artistic (and linguistic) talent and her book is a real credit to her - it's been a pleasure to teach them. And another real pleasure came this week when I heard that all our students taking the Trinity College exam have passed! Every single one and some with Merit. It was a day of great rejoicing when we found this out and I have bumped into several of them in town and they are over the moon themselves. Couldn't be more delighted for a super group of students. And a good start back for their new teacher - it would have been such a shame if anyone of them hadn't passed.

So, September starts and the summer passes. My cupboards are creaking with homemade tomato sauces, sun-dried tomatoes and fig jam. We have frozen peppers and tomatoes and a store room full of melons, peppers, potatoes and courgettes to eat in the coming weeks. FR has been busy building us beautiful and original shelving units to store all the things he's just about to fetch down from the barn in Leon and he's also worked wonders in the garden, filled the outhouse up with enough wood to last us for the next few cold snaps and cooked us some pretty amazing barbecues. And now he's ready to start back with his drama group in Granada.

I have a nice feeling that we will all manage the changes rather well. And the end of September brings us a little stream of visitors, including Janice and Mark! SO looking forward to them coming. Then my mum comes - and then later in October, I'm hoping to meet up with another old friend who is coming out to southern Spain for a couple of months and has promised to come and see us.

And guess what - the verb 'to loom' apparently comes from the Old Norse verb 'ljóma' - meaning 'to shine'! That must be what I meant in the first place.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

On being inspired

In recent weeks, Romy and I have been enjoying a little post-prandial crafting at our big glass table in the kitchen - and I've shared some of our attempts at making in earlier posts.

We've been going at Romy's pace and she's really enjoyed the process. We keep buying a few more 'bits' when we pop into town. And today we went shopping again and this time, called in to 'A LITTLE bit of BRITAIN' - a shop in Alcala la Real that started off, as its name suggests, as a place where the expats in the area could buy their Tetley teabags, Bird's Custard Powder and various other necessities that some folk just can't live without. It's owned and run by the wonderful Alan - invariably friendly, helpful and good-natured - and he had the great idea of opening up some additional space for people to put their second-hand goods for sale. The Spanish haven't ever really grasped the idea of 'second-hand' and on their version of ebay, the prices people want are ridiculous and unrealistic. A lot of expats move out here and find they have all the 'wrong' stuff for their new homes. A lot of expats move back to the UK and decide not to take all their stuff back with them. Alan's shop works a treat and now, the local Spanish folk are recognising what a brilliant idea it is!

I digress, I believe. Ah no, I know why it was important to mention Alan's shop. It's because once a month, he moves all the secondhand furniture to the farther reaches and holds a Saturday market - renting out a 'stall' to anyone who has anything to sell. Some months, it's really good, with clothes, plants, food, (occasionally a chocolate stall!) and jewellery, as well as bric-a-brac and other second-hand items. I usually try and get there on a craft market day. There are sometimes people there who sell cards too. And in the shop, Alan always has a wide selection though some of them are not very inspiring and I asked if he'd be willing to sell some of ours in his shop - and, being Alan, he said yes! And now I get back to my we took our wares in to the shop. I asked what sort of cards were most in demand and unfortunately, he said it was 'Sympathy' cards...

So, when we came home, Romy agreed that I should make some sympathy cards - the idea didn't really inspire her. The night before, I had been looking at some new ideas on the internet and spent 17 minutes of my life watching a video on Youtube. It's not possible for me to embed the video for you to have a look, but here is the link. I was so inspired by this piece that this afternoon, I sat down and made a 'With Sympathy' card that I'm rather pleased with.

The card was a nice cream colour, on which I painted a watercolour background in teal and pale yellow. Then I made a flower stamp out of foam, and, using a pencil, made some imprint 'dot's. We had some teal ink by pure chance so I stamped the flowers randomly and lightly onto the background.

Then I ran a fine strip of ribbon down one side - which, with retrospect, I shouldn't have done...

The heart was cut from a loose page out of my Oxford Dictionary of English in Current Usage and I put it on a piece of foam before sticking it on to make it stand out a little. Then I pencilled around the edged and then blurred them a little.

I had bought the leaf skeletons from the UK and put one onto the other corner to provide a little balance.
Then with a silver pen, I added some squares - though these don't show up too well on the photo.

I wrote 'with sympathy' across both sides of the card, which has a centre opening.

It was a deeply satisfying card to make and the photo doesn't really do it justice. I feel as though I have really learned something...

My second attempt was slightly different and I didn't do a watercolour background, but made another foam stamp - this time using a heart shape.

Using the teal ink, I covered the whole of the card but made the shading random.

I added a few of the flower stamps using the only other coloured ink I have - which is red. I wasn't sure how this would look but decided to use a pinky-red piece of embossed paper on top. This I cut out with some scissors Romy and I bought today in town - cost all of 64c! Again, using a pencil, I went round the edges and smudged the colour to darken the frame of the centre card.

Another leaf skeleton and a strip of cream card to write 'so sorry' on.

I do hope these cards don't fly off Alan's shelves soon but I also hope that they perhaps convey a little more personal touch than some of the cards that are available at the moment.

And I couldn't stop there. So I made one more card this afternoon. It's an 'I Love You' card and says

You are ....   always on my mind and in my heart. 

Again, the inspiration is from the beautiful Art Journal that Rach0113 created and shared. Thank you Rach0113! You are amazing!!

I can't tell you the pleasure I have had in making these three cards today. I'm alight with ideas and plans for more and more cards...

How I wish the good folk of Alcala were full of a burning desire to send cards to each other. I must start making some in Spanish too...Maybe it'll catch on one day - they do seem to be getting the hang of second hand goods!

(Forgive my indulgence. You don't need to comment on this post - but I really needed to write it!!)