Casa Rosales

Casa Rosales

Sunday, 27 July 2014

There and back again

Well, we're back. Back from a lovely week in England with family and friends.
I'd booked the flights in February and it wasn't until just before we were due to leave and I printed out our boarding passes that I realised we had eight days, not just a week, of holiday.  It felt fantastic!

The last time I took the children to England it was Christmas;  the weather was cold and wet; the days were short and it was dark by 4pm. This year, we were treated to eight long, glorious and sunny days; the sun didn't set until 10pm and rose again by 5am. We revelled in the rich greenery of the Cheshire and West Yorkshire countrysides. We had one short sharp thunderstorm soon after we arrived in Huddersfield which was noisy and quite spectacular and very welcome.

My sister has moved house and is now in a  beautiful old farmhouse with acres of land.. I have, in the distant past, posted about the many tractors around here, including very beautiful Lamborghini ones...and since visiting my sister, I have tractor envy. She has her own little tractor to cut the grass and of course, we had to have a go!

Here's Romy receiving instruction....

We were treated to wonderful home-cooked meals and the children and I slept in the old, almost but not quite, converted barn, all together in the same space. I fell asleep every night to the sound of laughter and silly stories and games of  'I went to market' (a memory game where each player adds something else to the list of purchases...) and just general messing around. 

We visited my parents and found them not too badly organised. Dad has just got a hoist and a new bed which helps Mum and the carer to get him in and out of bed and in and out of his chair. He looks well under the circumstances but is always anxious to speed up the time between his daily routines - often, by 3pm, he's anxious for supper and bed. 

After a couple of days relaxing, enjoying the sunshine and my sister's garden, we hired a car to visit friends in Yorkshire - sadly missing Janice by a week or so as she had returned to France, more or less with Le Tour. Check out her blog for more lovely information about this! I had arranged to meet my dear friend Karen (of Southwold Famous Five fame) in Salt's Mill in Saltaire, one of my all time favourite haunts. I'd dropped Mateo off in Huddersfield to meet some of his friends so it was just Romy, Ruy and I who went. We arrived early and I positioned myself near the entrance so that I'd see Karen when she arrived. However, there were two entrances and she managed to sneak up on me - very sneakily she did it - and caught me by surprise. We'd sort of expected a slightly tearful and emotional meeting as it's more than four years since we've seen each other, but our outburst of hysteria was unexpected! We both burst into a mixture of laughing and crying and hugging which became a mascara- and nose-dripping spectacle with my children and Karen's husband, Philip, looking on in slightly embarrassed amusement. It was perfect!

We had a lovely lunch together and lots of catching up. It's twenty five years since Salt's Mill opened and the chap in the Diner is still there, welcoming the hoards and he remembered and chatted to us as if we'd only been there last week. 

And then Karen handed me a very precious little parcel. It was Mavis - our prize pig from the Treasure Hunt we did in Southwold (see earlier link!) - who, as we were there in 1984 as I remember, is now 35 years old! 

Photo: Lovely to hand over this little pig to Annie Taylor - let's hope it's not too long before we collect her again from Spain. Bon Voyage xxxxx

After this lovely afternoon, we went to stay with my friend Marion, over in Huddersfield. Like everyone else we stayed with, Marion had prepared us some wonderful food. I did wonder whether it was because we had unconsciously been missing 'English' food but I suspect it was more the special care that people made on our behalf and we are most grateful - certainly one very direct way to our hearts. We stayed overnight and so the next morning, I was able to drop Ruy off at a friend's house and call in to see another before going to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park with Marion, her son, Ali and another friend, Clare. This is the place we visited most often from our home in Huddersfield and at the time, is where FR did his undergraduate and postgraduate degrees so we got to know it very well indeed. Sadly, the University of Leeds has closed the campus based here now and all the buildings that were home to FR showed great signs of decay and neglect...we couldn't get to see some of the older and more beautiful buildings as the grounds were roped off for visitors. I didn't honestly pay too much attention to the surroundings as I was busy enjoying my time talking to my friends but I think the children were glad to be back. Mateo took some photos on his phone and they're not brilliant but do capture some of the amazing trees there and some of the unexpected features!. 

 With Marion, Clare, Ali and Romy

When we returned to my sister's, she took us on a stunning walk around Marbury Country Park with Twigg, Cocoa and Fizz. And we had a pub lunch at the side of the Trent and Mersey Canal, where the Anderton Boat Lift is now operational again. It all seemed very civilised and organised and pretty. And that's not to say Spain isn't these things but my three words are not the first that come to mind when living in Andalucia...(Photos to follow - they're on my sister's phone and she's now in Belgium.)

The rest of the week was made up of more visits to Mum and Dad, a quick trip to the chiropractor, a shopping day at Cheshire Oaks - more because one of the cars was in for a service there - but we did get a few items and overdosed on the outrageous amount of choice of things for sale. A once in a lifetime visit, I suspect! And Ruy got some great archery practice and he and Romy were invited to hit a few balls on the Golf Course Driving Range just next door - which they enjoyed very much!

And suddenly it was Thursday and time to come home again. It was wonderful to spend time with my sister and to see my parents and so special to spend time with precious friends too. But we were ready to come home again. I always tend to say 'home' for England, but my children don't. They had a great time - and Ruy in particular, had a brilliant day with his friends, including catching his first fish - but Alcala is their home and they were ready to return. And that was a good feeling too.

After a goodbye and utterly indulgent meat-and-potato pie meal at my parents'.....
Photo: Mum's meat and potato pie....mmmm

...we pootled back to the airport and climbed aboard our plane home with some satisfaction. 

And at the other end, FR was waiting for us with a lovely picnic and the beach bag prepared for a late night dip in the Med! Don't ask me why I didn't take any photos of my two brave children swimming in the sea at 10.30 as I have no excuse, just as I have no excuse for not having a photo of Karen and I in our emotional meeting. But these things are firmly fixed in my mind's eye and you'll just have to believe me that they are wonderful!

So, we've been there and we've come back again. Not story of Hobbits or dragons but a journey, along the way of which we all made a few discoveries, found many things to make us feel grateful and felt the pleasure of returning home again. 

And that is no bad thing. 

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Here, there and everywhere

It's been busy, busy, busy for our family recently. And in a good way for the main part.

Since our visit to the Medieval Market a few weeks ago, we've had a visit to Valladolid to see FR's parents. Their Golden Wedding anniversary was actually on 10th June, the same day my own parents got married, but school hadn't finished and so the celebration was postponed for a few weeks. However, travelling there and back created a couple of problems..

I knew I would have to come back early in order to continue my teaching course - it simply wasn't possible to postpone or reschedule the classes - so I had a ticket booked to travel back on the Monday...only realising too late that once I arrived back in Alcala, I was transport-less! However, right next to the bus station, there's a little hire car office and they did me a good deal on a cute little car that would get me to and from work without problem. First problem sorted.

Pippin was my other main concern. No way was I going to leave him behind, nor did I want to put him in kennels. I wanted him to come with us. He has a problem, though, with car sickness. We can't even get the 7kms to the vet's without him throwing up! This is a journey of almost 600kms!! I went to the vet and asked for some pills, which she gave me...(sorry, that should read that I paid an extortionate amount for)...and it was with my fingers crossed that I gave them to him wrapped in a little ham on Friday morning.
It took a little effort to persuade him into his cage in the back of the car. Taking him meant putting the top box on for our luggage as he takes up all the space in the back. But once in, he settled down - and was an angel all the way. Second problem sorted.

And there were no more problems. We had a great time. These photos are from the meal we enjoyed altogether at the restaurant where FR and I had our own wedding reception. The food was excellent and we laughed a lot - though there was less singing than on our day....

One of me, not because it's a good one, but because there are so few around...
Mateo and Marco in the background looking teenagerish!
And at the bar, FR's youngest brother and his girlfriend - another English woman!

Main dish - choto, or kid goat

I can't remember what was so funny but I do like to FR laughing!

And who knows what my father-in-law had said here...

This is the gift from middle son - a restored photo of his gorgeous parents when they were young. I fell in love with this picture and we're going to get a copy for ourselves.
It was taken by a street photographer and just a random snap - but it captures so much....
What a stunning couple they were.

And happy still - with their three sons here.
 The festivities continued back at the house and on to the next day when more family came down from Leon to celebrate. The weather was really poor - imagine, chilly and rainy in July in the centre of Spain! So we set the table out in the garage. I have to share a typical and funny story from this family. Marco, middle brother and his wife, Carmen live in the centre of Valladolid in an apartment. It was their task to bring a table and a chicken casserole that Carmen had cooked the day before. They are notoriously bad time keepers and usually turn up quite late for family events. However, they were surpassing themselves on this occasion. Nadia, the English girlfriend, with whom I got on really well, was getting a bit concerned as she wanted everything to be just right and kept insisting we phone Marco to see where he was. Eventually, we did this and it turned out that he'd forgotten the table and had to go back for it. By the time he arrived, we'd sorted alternative seating arrangements so the table wasn't necessary. During the afternoon, Marco and Carmen took me to one side and 'confessed' what had actually happened. Bear with me, it's a good one!

They park their car in an underground carpark near the house and the slope up to the road is very steep. Having loaded the table and the casserole into the boot, they decided it would be dangerous to drive up the slope and risk the casserole spilling, so they took everything out again. Marco then went back down and picked up the table - but forgot the casserole!  Halfway to his parents, we called about the table and it was then he remembered he'd left the casserole in the carpark!!!...So back they went. In order to fit the casserole into the boot of the car, he had to take out the table. Obviously by now, they were rather stressed....because they then drove off - yes, you've guessed it -  with the casserole, but without the table!

Anyone know the Tales of Hoffnung story...The Bricklayer's Lament? Well, I laughed almost as much at this as I did at Marco's tale.

For my in-laws, I painted my first ever picture. A mixture of watercolour and Zentangle. I wanted to do something just for them and whilst it is very 'naive' in style, I was quite pleased with how it turned out and it looked even nicer with a frame. They have it on their wall and I know Amelia will enjoy looking at it every day.

I will share what my family did without me in a later, I'm preparing for a much anticipated visit to England!! We fly tomorrow - me and the children -  for just over a week and I am feeling rather excited about this. It's a busy life!