Casa Rosales

Casa Rosales

Friday, 18 September 2015

Not a bad week really...

Last Thursday, FR and Ruy went up to Valladolid to see the grandparents. Romy started school the same day after a long hot summer. I had begun working at the beginning of the week. It's strange to be up before the sun and to feel the coolness of the night that suddenly falls as we begin September. Mateo was at home on dog and hen duties. All calm and organised...on the surface!

My cute little solar lights still on as I left the house to go to work this week...
The good news is that despite the negative forecast from the doctor, so far, FR's father seems quite well. He gets tired quickly and finds walking around uncomfortable but in himself, he appears to be OK and he was, as always, delighted to see Ruy.

The previous week had been the most awfully busy one I'd had for a while. Despite knowing that there was the up and coming national archery competition at the beginning of September, I hadn't seen anyone at the club to check what we ought to be doing. A nagging concern I had was that Ruy would need a different licence - one that would allow him to shoot not just in Andalucia but throughout Spain - and he hadn't got it. I eventually made contact with the right person and in my rather patchy written Spanish (FR was in Valladolid at the time and not around to help me), but after a couple of exchanges, Juanma understood what I needed. And his response was not good....I'd left it too late. The national federation needed at least two weeks to provide the licence and we only had 8 days. I wrote back and pleaded. He said he'd do what he could. I bombarded him with suggestions and ideas and desperation. He wrote a letter to the federation and we had to wait.

I couldn't do that so I spoke to the lovely Guillermo, who has always helped in the past but whom I haven't seen for months and months, and turned out to be the absolutely the right thing to have done. Guillermo knows everyone in the archery world in Spain and he set about pulling a few strings. Ruy and I had to whizz into Granada on the Friday morning, just a week before the competition, to get forms signed - and then we had a hair-raising drive across Granada at lunch time following Guilllermo to the archery shop to stock up on arrows - and then, Guillermo assured me, all would be fine. All Ruy had to do was to arrive at the venue and do his best. It had been a very traumatic period, during which I swung between feeling sure that Ruy wasn't going to be able to take part, to feeling sure that it would all be OK. But even when FR and Ruy headed off to Valladolid before the competition, I still wasn't absolutely convinced that he would be allowed to compete...

In the end, though, it was OK and on the Saturday morning, after an early start, they arrived just north of Madrid to the club where the competition was to be held. This was the National Junior Championship in Archery in 'campo y bosque 3D' - (field and woods) where the targets are life-sized figures of animals. (That's the 3D bit.) No circular targets other than in the practice area. The competition involves walking around the countryside in small groups, stopping at various stages where the animal is either plainly visible or slightly hidden between trees or plants. And then shooting two arrows at them. There are 22 animals and a circuit takes a good two hours to complete - and there are two circuits to do. It's quite an endurance event - walking and shooting and staying focused for more than four hours with just a half hour break in the middle.

At around 11 o'clock, they'd completed the first circuit and Ruy was happy with his score of 290 - a good score for him and I wished him luck for the second circuit, where sometimes, he begins to feel tired and his shoulders start aching and it's harder to concentrate, especially as he hasn't had so much experience and practice. FR rang me back a few minutes later to say that Ruy was currently lying in third place!! Excellent news, as there were 40 competitors. And I suddenly felt very nervous!

The rest of the morning dragged by for me but I didn't dare call in case I distracted him. But then, Ruy called to tell me he had come second overall - beating his first round score on the second circuit - and was SubCampeon of Spain!! Jubilations. The winner was the boy who had won last year - also from this province and who Ruy meets from time to time in local (Andalucian) competitions - but their scores were very close. And it's good that they'll continue to meet in the coming year at competitions much closer to home - knowing that they are the best in the country for their age.

We were all so delighted and I had the great pleasure of calling my father-in-law and hearing the thrill and excitement in his voice too. That was very special.

Ruy on the left in his club t shirt.

And this success will hopefully start his new school year off well. Last year was awful for Ruy - he didn't work in class, didn't do his homework, didn't bother in exams with the result that he is going to repeat the year again. Fortunately, there is not too much stigma attached to this and I am hoping that Ruy will pull his finger out and show everyone that he can and will do it this year. He will be the biggest and oldest in his class - something he has not been since arriving in Spain - and again, I hope this will be a spur. I will return to this subject at another time...right now, we are celebrating.

Because this week has also been his birthday. He asked for - and got - a ukulele and I'm delighted to say the house has been filled with some lovely sounds since the thing emerged from its case yesterday afternoon! I remember my stubborn little son, who absolutely refused to eat vegetables as a toddler, pointing to broccoli at the supermarket and saying, "I want to eat that!" and he did and still does. (He eats a few others now but at the time, it was broccoli or nothing). When he sets his mind on something, he does it. Maybe he'll be entering the Ukulele championship in a few years time too...

Thank you Ruy, we have all enjoyed your rather special week. Congratulations, my champion!

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Balancing act...

This is a difficult post to write. There are so very many things in the world that are dreadful. So many people in unimaginable situations and the outcome of some of their actions washed pitifully up on the shores of beaches. We are rightly outraged, horrified and terrified by the concept of people taking such desperate measures to get away from their homes.

As the photographs of little Aylan were being published, my family and I were on a different beach, in very different circumstances. I posted a photo on Facebook as we were driving home but I had to take it down again when I saw Aylan's body - the contrast seemed heartless. Like many others, I am hoping that the shocking image will continue to move people to action and that governments acknowledge that we are in a situation that needs a new response. Opinions are polarising and on hearing some of the negative ideas expressed in the media, I have been appalled and disbelieving. Fortunately, there are a lot of people who are doing things to help in big and little ways in many European countries. In posting my photos here today, I am at pains to say how much I recognise the differences in our situations and how I regret so very much that so many are suffering.

And we all have our own trials and tribulations to face and manage even though many of them pale into insignificance in comparison. However, the illness of a loved parent will always loom large in our lives. And right now, my dear, dear father-in-law is facing a gloomy future and probably not very much of a future either. FR went up to visit for a few days earlier this week and spoke to the doctors on Monday, together with his brother. The doctor didn't pull any punches from the sound of things and showed FR the x-rays and the spread of the cancer. The fact is, they are not sure quite how my father-in-law is still walking around, eating and breathing. And the good news is that to see him, he apparently looks quite well - he gets tired quickly and has a nasty night-time cough - but otherwise, he seems fine. We are dreading the day we find out he has pain somewhere...

Anyway, it was a beautiful afternoon and the children and I drove into Granada to meet FR and as we were getting to the end of summer, I decided we should take advantage of being halfway to the coast and that we should spend the rest of the day at our new favourite beach, Calahonda on the Costa Tropical. My plan was decided - collecting more pebbles to paint - and I had little intention of going in the sea. Last time we visited, it was freezing cold and most uninviting. However, when we arrived, Ruy and Romy - always first in - announced it was perfect. So we all swam that afternoon. And it really was glorious.

As well as collecting pebbles, I sat and built a few stone towers in a zen-sort of way. And then the children all joined in and I took some lovely photos of them. So please, enjoy with me, the pleasure of sunshine and stones. They are mindful pictures. We are mindful.

A small tower of balancing stones


And more concentration

My various stone towers...

Very satisfying and calming to do

They did this for a good half an hour.....
And then today, FR shared this video with me on Facebook that shows how it's done really....

Please enjoy this - it is something that I find utterly hypnotic and beautiful. He also has a website called Gravity Glue which is worth a visit.