Thursday, 29 December 2011

And finally - for this year -

One last Christmas photo of  the gold and silver pine cones, some on bases John made from pieces of pine or olive wood, surrounded by holly lights Airi bought from Paris, and with a sad looking polar bear waiting for next Christmas to come.

Hope next year brings everyone health, wealth and happiness. 

Thanks for reading my ramblings this year,  more to come  in 2012  :)

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

A snapshot of Christmas

Doesn't Christmas come slowly and go so fast!   It was only last Thursday when we did the trip to Malaga to pick up Mat and Airi   (4pm, still 24° down  on the coast)   drove home along the coast road with a wonderful sunset behind us - both Mat and Airi taking photos through the car windows of the sea shimmering gold and red as the sun got lower and lower.  Arrived here at about 6.45 and still not quite dark, the horizon was glowing still.

Next day we did a trip up into the pine forests above Mecina Bombaron to walk the dogs and collect pine cones.  Enormous ones up there, about 6 inches or so,  some bigger and better than others so although we took a big bag to put them in, we started throwing some away and only keeping the very biggest and best.  

On the way to the pine woods

Christmas Eve was last minute food preparation for me, figgy pudding cooked so it only needed reheating on the day, but I can't think what else we did!  Oh, made some silver and gold Christmas cones for the  table, plus Airi made this 'hedgehog'.    John was duty chef that night - he made a huge paella  that we weren't sure we'd eat but there wasn't much left, just some rice for Monty and Pip. 

Christmas morning wasn't as sunny or as hot as it had been but still very nice.  A bit of a nip in the air so when our friends walked up to join us for coffee, mince pies, cake, cream and brandy butter - a bit big for elevenses but it's only once a year - we had that indoors in the lounge.  With the sun streaming in through the window it was lovely and hot.

Presents were opened mostly in the morning although I think we kept a few back till later.   Mat and Airi found Xmas stockings on their bed post late on Xmas eve  but managed not to open them till the morning.  I couldn't put them on the end of the bed in case Pip discovered them and the contents....chocolate money and  chocolate covered almonds amongst other things. 

Boxing Day we went up to Granada for a walk around the tiny streets near the cathedral, full of Morroccan goodies - leather bags, so many different  types of lights, woollen clothing, tea shops, spice shops, all  sorts  of sights and smells.  John bought me a wonderful all-in-one hat and scarf with a long, long pointed hat ending in a tassell half way down my back.   It's frosty overnight at the moment and although I have a scarf and gloves my head and ears get very chilly.  Plus when we get the big winter winds I don't have a hat to keep me warm.  Or I didn't, now I have my "scat"  (scarf and hat)   or  should it be a  "harf" ?

Had lunch in a lovely tapas bar where we ate a mixed cold platter and mixed hot platter of tapas.  Hot included salmon covered in melted cheese, tortilla, bacon with blue cheese, lomo with tomato, pork filled croquettes, slow cooked pork with roasted peppers, and fried habas.  The cold platter had  4 different cheeses and 4 different pates on, smoked salmon, jamon, smoked lomo, smoked  trout, different chorizos, all on a bed of salad and topped with toasted almonds, plus a basket of bread.  Add a glass of wine each and  that was lunch.

More walking, more photos, bumped into Mariano and Marie-Carmen out for lunch,  quick chat with them then it was time to go round to the bus station for Mat and Airi to get the bus to Malaga.  They stayed overnight there, went out with friends from Paris who just happened to be in the same city at the same time, then they were flying home this morning.

And that was it - all finished.  

Monday, 19 December 2011

Ho Ho Ho..

Ho ho ho, it's cold outside.  Not as cold as some parts of the world but for Southern Spain, 4° at 9pm is pretty chilly.  Just done the last dog walk of the day, well wrapped up in a fleece, scarf, woolly socks and gloves.  At least the house is warm and cosy, both wood burners simmering away keeping us lovely and snug.

During sun-up it's fine outside in just a t-shirt and light top - I tend to add a cardi or zippered top to my t-shirt as one minute it's warm enough not to need the extra layer then the next minute is too cold.....or maybe that's an age/hormonal  thing     :(

With ho ho ho in mind, Christmas will soon be upon us and without saying too much about what we've been doing, the house is sparkling...  decorations are up,  the lights are on the tree,  wine glasses gleaming, silver and brasses polished (not that we have that much but at least it's all shiny)  as much food as is possible to pre prepare has been done, presents wrapped...

And the reason I'm not saying too much about food and other things  is because Mat and Airi are coming  this week and we want them to be surprised and hopefully delighted with the food and decorations that we have done.  This will be a special Christmas,  their first together, and they are now engaged and planning weddings.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Creepy crawlies

Moving in, taking up residence, on it's last legs, don't know what to call this one! 

Two days ago a praying mantis arrived at the outside sink and spent all day resting on the edge, then gradually and oh so slowly, climbed up the wall and along towards the laundry area.  Because everything was done in slow motion I came in and googled praying mantises - or should that be manti - and apparently  they only live 10 to 12 months with the males dying first as they get eaten by the female after - or even  during - the mating process.  She bites off his head!  Then when the female has laid her eggs in the autumn she will die during the winter months.  So the chances are that this is a female and as I said 'on her last legs' as the weather is getting colder and soon her time will be up.

Today she spent the early part of the morning on the front of the washing machine cover but moved to the  tumble drier cover when I put the washing in.  Late this afternoon she'd gone but John said she is down in the courtyard on the outside of a large geranium  tub.  She's still moving  but very slowly.  How Pip and Monty haven't seen her I don't know,  Pip would probably be frightened and bark at her while Monty would have a good sniff then go off and lie back down in the sun.

Pruning time in the front garden today, a huge pile overflowing the wheelbarrow of roses, geraniums, chrysanthemum prunings.  Just about to tie up a wayward plant when I saw this huge spider sitting in it's web strung from rosebush  to sage bush.  No pruning near this!  I'm sure it's got teeth!

Friday, 9 December 2011

ITV time again

At this time of the year we don't get up until the sun is well and truly above the horizon - or in our case above Sierra Gador.  But today the 4x4 had its 2 yearly ITV test and we'd booked it in for 10.30.  Which didn't seem too early but then when we worked back the timings, we realised we'd have to leave home at 8.45.....down to Yator, via Cadiar, over the Contraviesa, along the coast road, through towns that would be waking up as businesses opened, book the car in and pay the 35 euros it costs.  We arrived at 10.15,  but didn't get called till nearer 11am.  Such is life.

So we were up earlier than usual,  and as I opened the lounge curtains and shutters I saw the   reddest sky I have seen in a long time.  Unfortunately the camera didn't capture the full extent of the colours,  it spread left and right of Sierra Gador,  a huge red glow that brightened as the sun rose.

As we drove down to the coast the sun was shining through the low clouds and it looked really pretty.

After the car passed,  another 2 year sticker for the windscreen issued,  we had a little retail therapy consisting mostly  of food and drink for Christmas - and hopefully longer considering what we went for and what we came back with!!

Todays bargain - John went into Aki for some cup hooks, sandpaper and  came out with a pair of very large red Xmas bells to hang up, probably in the garden.  Why bells?  As he went into Aki most of the people coming out were carrying them and they were on a 2 for 1 oferta so why not have some too?

Monday, 5 December 2011

Do we need Christmas cards?

If you walk down the average high street or shopping centre in many places, there are always lots of card shops.   If you do the same in Spain you will not see card shops but shoe shops.  Wonderful for shoe-a-holics but not so good if you just want some nice cards for friends and family back home.

Most people have email but not all,  some would be quite happy with an email greeting, but somehow it seems very impersonal and a card - especially one chosen for a person rather than out of a box of 36 - seems better at this time of year.

Cards are very rare here,  surprisingly there are some quite nice ones sold in the local tabac, but not Xmas cards, nice cards in El Corte Ingles but a day in Granada seems a bit extreme just for some cards so imagine my delight when I saw some Xmas cards today in Ugijar.  OK, so I was in one of the bazaars - think Woolworths-ish,  everything you didn't know you needed at a very reasonable price.

10 cards for 75 cents. They do say that you get what you pay for and  I should have stopped at that point and not bought any but in fact I bought 2 packs.  When we opened them tonight we just started to laugh.  Cheap and tacky doesn't begin to describe them.  Bright and garish does. So flimsy that they don't stand up.  Thin paper - apparently photocopy paper is 80 gsm, these can't be much thicker than that.  John said if we glue them together to stop them bending we could  hang them up as decorations.....then we thought we could cut them up and use them as labels for presents.... maybe if we don't get any/many cards we can hang them up and pretend we still have cards sent to us.

So if you are reading this and expecting to get a card from us this Christmas,  sorry, but not this year. 

And back to my original question.  Do we need to send cards at all?  It's just as easy to pick up the phone and wish someone a merry Christmas, send a picture and a message to those who have email and in these days of austerity, much more economic, although I'm sure the post office won't agree with that!

PS - we had a bonus with our cards, someone can't count and one packet had 11 cards in it!

Friday, 2 December 2011

Early this morning..

Sunrise as seen from our living room window, this morning.   Not much to say about it except  what gorgeous colours.