B-DAY PLUS 240

FRIDAY OCTOBER 28TH

Dan is so busy with work at the moment, he warned us that he would have to spend one morning concentrating on a bit of a catch-up.  Today was that day.  Laptop on the naya at break of day and business head firmly affixed on shoulders.

As it’s also the day when we arranged to go out to lunch , taking Pepe with us, I came up with a master plan.  Lex and I would take the children to the caves in Benidoleig in the morning, and Rod would bring Pepe  and Dan to the Restaurante El Piton, near the caves, for a 1-30pm lunch.  Everyone was happy, and Rod prepared for a gruelling morning of hard work too – testing Sir Google and satiating himself with online chess and Scrabble.

DSC03286So, calling at the town hall in Jalón to make sure the venue would be available on Tuesday for the Borrowers meeting ( it turns out it’s a bank holiday for The Day of The Dead, even though I have an officially stamped paper to say I  have booked it!), we drove off to the caves.

The children were immediately taken by the gift shop!  I  had promised Clemmie that I would buy  her a crystal stone, so I was pleased that she could choose from a tempting array of shiny stones on offer.  When she saw a necklace made from goldstone, she immediately wanted it!  How lovely – that’s the way you should always buy crystals!  This is, however, not a crystal but a man-made glass containing flecks of copper and known as the Stone of Ambition, because of its ability to help achieve whatever goals its owner has in mind.  It’s also calming – so Clemmie is onto a good thing with this necklace!!

Juniper chose a lurid pink dog, with purple eyes and one purple ear,  which she named Emmie, and Monty chose a snorkel so that he could start practicing  the skills he needs to become an underwater policeman.

That all done, and a quick refreshing juice consumed, we all went  into the cave.  I have been here a few times, and know that there is DSC03282really not a lot to see!  The enormous size IS impressive, however, getting to over 50 metres high in some places, with the rocks above our heads appearing soot- blackened from the inhabitants’ fires about 60,000 years ago.  It’s only 400 metres in length, but nicely  lit, and , as we were the only ones there, the children loved running about, reading the little information boards and making lots of “Ooohs ” and “Aaahs” to test the echoes.

We had half an hour to fill  before going to the restaurant, so we headed for the playground and made good use of all the seesaws and swings!  Plenty of room, too, for DSC03284Clemmie to show us her marvellous gymnastic skills! (It doesn’t seem THAT long ago when this would have been me!  I could always do this trick., but could never manage a cartwheel as good as the ones Clemmie was doing!)

(I bet I could still do it!  I will secretively have a go ……. after all, what’s sixty years to forget a skill like this?)

We all met up as planned for  a really filling lunch, and all enjoyed what we had ordered.  Mmmmmm !

DSC03275At home again, they all went into the pool, even persuading Poppa to get into the cold water – only 20degrees !!   I didn’t time the immersion – but it was anywhere between half a minute and two minutes!

Normally it has to get to at least 25 before Rod and I get into the pool- so this is definitely the last dip of the year.

 

Only one full day left, and I am feeling already bereft.

 

 

 

 

 

 

B-DAY PLUS 239

THURSDAY OCTOBER 27TH

Today is, as  usual, tennis day.  Lex and Dan had arranged to meet their Hassocks friends in Javea for the day, so Rod and I went off to tennis, and afterwards to the monthly lunch in Tormos.  We had a great time, as we always do, and the eight of us at lunch enjoyed terrific food and lively banter!

The Youngs arrived home during the late afternoon, having had a lovely day at the beach, and having spent a small fortune on a tapas lunch.  So it was a nice ham salad in the evening, outside, after which Rod called “time” at eleven o’clock in order to go and enjoy his normal weekly appointment with all the political programmes on tele of a Thursday evening/night!

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I had to chuckle to myself as I used our en-suite bathroom after the children had gone to bed.  As I was doing what I had gone there for, my gaze drifted to the bath-side and I saw all these sharks, arranged in size order, and all following each other!  Monty had brought all these special sharks with him from his house !!  Aah!

Monty is a real love.  He has made his mind up what he wants to do when he grows up – an underwater policeman!   He was telling me that some people DSC03274make shark’s fin soup by cutting off sharks’ fins for the soup (that doesn’t taste at all nice) and then throwing the sharks back into the sea, where they can’t live without their fins and so they die.  “Someone has to stop this happening”, he says, “so I am going to put them in prison.”   He is one very special six-year-old.  His wobbly tooth fell out in his bed and he lost it.  Luckily, Dan has the number of the tooth fairy in England, so he sent her a text message to explain the situation, and she came to visit during the night and left a whole euro for the tooth!!

There has, of course, been lots of repercussions following the screening of the Great British Bake-Off yesterday;

” Following in the footsteps of Nadiya Hussain, this year’s The Great British Bake Off winner, Candice Brown, has a lucrative career ahead of her.

The PE teacher from Bedfordshire has already had an estimated £1 million worth of book deals and endorsements thrown her way, according to The Guardian.

Speaking about her future following the win, Brown said there will no doubt be “plenty of cake” involved.   Hussain – who won last year’s contest – reportedly earned £1 million from her recipe book alone and has since signed a lucrative deal with the BBC.”

No wonder the contestants are so keen to win!!

I don’t willingly watch the news on the tele., but every now and then the Universe seems to conspire to make me aware of the important items in the reportings of that day.  So it was today that this leapt out at me;

” We’re currently experiencing the worst spate of species die-offs since the loss of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. Although extinction is a natural phenomenon, it occurs at a natural “background” rate of about one to five species per year.   Scientists estimate we’re now losing species at 1,000 to 10,000 times the background rate, with literally dozens going extinct every day. “

Perhaps it was because I was still thinking about Monty and the sharks’ fin soup, but this just struck me as abhorrent.

 ” 99 percent of currently threatened species are at risk from human activities.”

So today’s list of things I am grateful for will include, at number one, MONTY YOUNG!  He is a young man with a huge social conscience, and long may he be an example to us all !!

 

 

 

B-DAY PLUS 238

 

WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 26TH

BEACH DAY !

The sea was a bit overcrowded for Dan and Monty …

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…and it was a bit hard to find a place to sit on the crowded beach …..

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DSC03267..but we all had fun at El Verger !  We played on the sand; we made sandcastles;  we left our marks courtesy of the Posidonia balls; and those that wanted to be just a weeny bit lazy DSC03264due to painful legs, and having a crafty snooze – did just that!

It was just marvellous in the sea!  Here we are, living the last few days of October, and the sea is as warm as a cup of tea.  I felt SO proud of Monty – the first strong wave knocked him right off his feet and frightened him so much he started to cry.  But he still stood there with Dan, until he felt better, then went further in DSC03266and carried on playing in the strong surf!  What a trooper.

When the hunger pangs could no longer be ignored, off we all went to the Chicken Shack (Restaurante BB) and tucked into a mound of chicken and chips.

The normal routine in these restaurants is to tell the itinerant North African bag-and-sunglasses sellers that we are NOT interested ( firmly and definitely!).  These sellers tour the restaurants and resorts lDSC03271istlessly hawking armfuls of stuff, and whilst I feel that  it’s good that they are trying to make a living, I get exasperated to see them with glum faces and tired old stock.  Smile ! Entertain me!  Show me some enthusiasm!   Today’s merchant arrived with his new winter selection – tablecloths ! Lex was immediately taken with one of them which said “Christmas”  to her, and asked the price. “25€” was the mumbled reply.  She happily handed over 15€ for it and the man sloped off, turning a deaf ear to my plea to just hang on a bit so that I could take a photo of the deal.

We are looking forward to spending Christmas at the Young’s house in Hassocks, so seeing the Christmas spread on the new tablecloth will remind us all of a very happy day in the Spanish sunshine.

Eventually we got home and those that wanted to (ie.  everyone except me and Rod)  went into the pool AGAIN!

No sitting outside for games today though – bake-off.jpgas it’s the final of The Great British Bakeoff … not to be missed !!  The right cook, Candice Brown (here on the left)  won the competition, which we all have been following for about three months.  What a fantastic programme this has been, and shows just how very clever, and patient,  some people are.

So it’s so easy today to think of the five things to be grateful for;

  1. Fantastic weather just when our visitors need it.
  2. Marvellous seaside only half an hour away.
  3. Having plenty of buckets, spades, comfy folding beach chairs,  and sea toys to enhance the glee at the sea.
  4. Having the wherewithal to buy a simple, tasty and hearty  restaurant meal when we really fancy one.
  5. Having lovely people to enjoy said meal with.

 

 

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B-DAY PLUS 237

TUESDAY OCTOBER 25TH

The day dawned bright and sunny once again!  How lucky for our holidaymakers !

Rod and I had things  to do at home, today  (me to take Pepe for a routine nurse’s appointment, Rod to look after his chess club, and both of us to look after the carpenter from Senija who came and replaced the termite-eaten support post for the carport ), so Lex and family went off by themselves for  the day.  Mid  afternoon, they came back all excited having had such a nice time at the Arenal in Javea.  Monty was especially pleased, as he  had spent DSC03254all his pocket money on a blow-up shark!  We all had mini-lectures on the finer points of this particular shark species, and there was great discussions as to what his name should be.  He ended up with imaginative “Sharkie”, having come home as “Steve” but not turning out to be a “Steve” at all once he was blown up!

The funny part about their day was, that when they reached the beach, they saw, already playing there, some friends from their school  in Hassocks! This made the day even better, and they arranged to go and spend the day with them on Thursday.

At home, a few more hours were spent in  the pool before sundowner time – six o’clock for delicious gin  and tonics / vodka and oranges in the evening sunshine.

Once more, we sat outside in the evening enjoying games and crisps, and generally relaxing and appreciating one another’s finer points!

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Lots of gurus say that you should write down each day, five things you have been grateful for!  That’s so easy today!

  1.  Lex and Dan

2.  Lex and Dan’s children

3.  Lex and Dan giving up a week on their lives to come here and bring said children

4.  Good weather while Lex and Dan are here.

5.  A nice house to welcome Lex and Dan to when they come to see us.

 

 

 

B-DAY PLUS 236

MONDAY OCTOBER 24TH

Our guests were a bit exhausted after their busy week and tiring trip to Spain, so wanted to stay at home for the day.  It was a bit chillyt in the pool, only 20 degrees, but they started the day with a dip, did something else, had a dip, had lunch, had a dip and thoroughly enjoyed having a dip at the end of the day!DSC03238

DSC03241Lex hates cold water as much as I do, but was determined to get in it!  The three children were obviously DSC03246very familiar with this scene, and stood patiently waiting for the ten minutes it took to take the Big Plunge!!

But cold as it was, they all had great enjoyment!

 

Monty’s tooth wobbled all day, but held on by a thread …

 

and Juniper was beautiful!

DSC03252So we all had a lovely time.  At 5 o’clock, they all went down to Pepe’s for a G&T, leaving me here to prepare the dinner.  The pulled pork was a big success with the adults, although Lex DSC03239had to cook a spaghetti meal for the children, who would not eat anything I had cooked at all!

What a marvellous day!

 

 

B-DAY PLIS 235

SUNDAY OCTOBER 23RD

A whole morning for the final guest preparation !  Pulled pork was cooked in the slow cooker, ready for whenever a hearty meal is needed, and a big banana parkin was cooked and stored for eventualities. All was (almost) done by lunchtime, when we had an invitation which we had been looking forward to for weeks!

DSC03231Geraldine and Ian moved from Jalón to Calpe last year, and we have heard such glowing reports of the apartment they have rented that we couldn’t wait to see it in the flesh!  And it didn’t disappoint !  They have very lucky to find an apartment almost right on the seafront, overlooking the iconic Peñon de Ifach.  On the eight floor, with floor-to-ceiling glass on three sides of their “conservatory” , it is amazing and they are loving living there.  Geraldine goes for a walk every morning along the prom., and Ian glories in the knowledge that there is no gardening to do!

They had made a marvellous spread for us,DSC03229 and we had a lovely time.  We were joined by Chris and Barry from Jalón, who we have got to know very well, so the conversation over lunch was very relaxing .  Barry is an avid football supporter, and had arranged to meet friends afterwards to watch the match on a big screen, so  we were pleased to be able to help by taking Chris home.

So we got home in plenty of time to finish the dusting, watch Countryfile and have a bit of a snooze before the Youngs arrived just after midnight.

It was lovely to see them! DSC03233 The children were sleep walking, so were put straight into bed, while we sat  there for over ah hour, catching up with news.  Lex and Dan are wonderful guests – they always come bearing very welcome gifts !  A bottle of ancient whisky for Rod (which Dan was good enough to help drink), and a bottle of very special chocolate Bailey’s for me ( which Lex was DSC03237also good enough to help drink!)  All this and Toblerones too!  Rod’s best go at a photo looks a bit worse for wear to me, even WITH specs on!

Cheers nevertheless !

Lucky lucky us to have such lovely lovely family to come and visit us!!

 

 

B-DAY PLUS 234

SATURDAY OCTOBER 22ND

Another day of preparation for the guests!  Off we went to Lidl to buy in supplies, and then I continued with the getting-the-DSC03225sewingroom-ready project.  I think I am the only person to know just what an achievement this is !  All my boxes of card-making and jewellery-making and sewing stuff have been found places, and the floor has been cleared of Important Things.

All ready now!

But am I?

Just as I think it’s all sorted, into the inbox pops an email from Lex ; she wants Juniper’s cot in here too!  I made myself a cup of tea and turned the computer off.  Problem solved.

After a busy morning, the day follows the pattern of a normal enjoyable Saturday, with our treat of a “pub lunch” at home, and a long bath full of Epsom salts.  Since I have been doing this every Saturday for the last few weeks, I have noticed a very marked improvement in the state of my dodgy back.  It’s much much less painful – good old Epsom Salts !!

DSC03227The recent wet weather has made weeding a lot easier, so I took the opportunity to fill  a capazo with weeds from the gravel out at the front of the house, before the bath.  This  is the first time I have done this for months – so it made me feel GOOD!  Rod’s trapped nerve is troubling him a lot, so all this heavy work is down to me at  the moment, unfortunately.  There’s nothing like a job jobbed.

So what’s the next Universal Law to consider?  Ooh- it’s the Law of Action, a new one on me!

” 3) The Law of Action

The Law of Action must be applied in order for us to manifest things on earth. Therefore, we must engage in actions that support our words, feelings, vision, thoughts, dreams and emotions. These actions will bring us manifestation of various results which are dependent on our specifically chosen words, thoughts, dreams, and emotions.”

Gosh – this coming on a couple of days FULL of actions to ensure that our lovely visitors enjoy their stay with us!

This is simply, as I see it, another way of saying that The Gods help those that help themselves (Ancient Greek saying!)

OK – I’ll do it!  I have been wondering what to do next year to celebrate my 70th birthday.  I am all confusion.  Time to step out of this silly state and start to DO something positive towards this auspicious February date.  This is the kick in the back that I was waiting for.

 

 

B-DAY PLUS 233

FRIDAY OCTOBER 21ST

It was a day that seemed to be very busy – all activity directed towards getting ready for our visitors on Sunday evening!  Somehow the morning just disappeared , mostly under the task of getting all my hobby stuff packed away and restoring the sewing room to a bedroom fit for small people.  It’s a hard job, and one that I really don’t like.  My family is the most important thing in the world to me, and I love it when they come to stay, BUT I do hate clearing up my room .  Where-ever do I put all the STUFF??  I told Rod that I need a proper playroom, and he said that he would go out immediately to look for one, but I sensed no serious sympathy.

BImage result for el arrels gataut lunchtime was something to look forward to!  This week it was my turn, so I opted to re-visit El Arrels in Gata.  It was as marvellous as ever, and everything was outstandingly delicious.  When I look at the photo of the restaurant, it looks so uninviting, that I don’t wonder we lived here for almost 15 years before we tried it! Why would anyone paint a restaurant gloomy battle-ship grey??

In the evening I toddled off to Alcalalí Image result for THE DOME ALCALALIfor another “Canta Mantra” evening at the Dome.  I had a puzzling camera malfunction and the photos I took were all fuzzy.  So I got this one from Sir Google’s store.  We all sit in a circle chanting away to the accompaniment of whoever is there to play an instrument, and the energy in that magical round room seems to be supercharged. (Is that what sent my camera haywire ?)  Funny thing though.  When I was looking at the images for “The Image result for THE DOME ALCALALIDome Alcalalí”, I noticed that there was a picture of ME, in this office sitting at this computer !  Looking at the selection for “El Arrels. Gata”, there I was again, in the sewing room!  When I Googled “Javea” the other day – there were Rod and I in black and white, getting married !!  Further down, there was a picture of three pairs of reading glasses that I bought in Benidorm earlier in the year!   However do they sort these pics ??

Getting home at 9.30, the jollity continued as we watched “Would I Lie to You?”, followed by “Have I got News for You”, then “Great British Bake-Off Extra Slice”, and finally  QI.  .  Now that’s what I call a good evening’s tele!

 

While I was pottering about online, I found this :

 

 

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Ooh, he’s very wise.

B-DAY PLUS 232

WET THURSDAY OCTOBER 20TH

No tennis again today, as the rain continues to stop play.  So we hopped off into Jalón to lay in some supplies for our important visitors next week.

First stop – bodega !  Rod has been looking forward to this for weeks, as he just loves to go and fill up his trolley with all sorts of alcoholic delights!  He walks around, scrutinising all the labels, then he picks up odd bottles and strokes them with a contented smile on his face.  Only then does he get a trolley and start loading it up!

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This is the same co-op where all the little tractors have off-loaded their grapes a month or so earlier, so we feel sort of virtuous, buying from here as it all helps the local economy. It’s a massive place now, and all these big barrels hold wine that you help yourself to.  People DSC03217bring their own bottles and just fill them up (sometimes creating their own favourite mix of wines in one bottle.). We used to do this too as it’s very cheap, but these days we prefer to buy the wine bottled and pay just a bit extra.  This bodega has grown a lot in the years since we have been in Spain, and big coaches can often be seen parked opposite, having disgorged their passengers to sample the delights of the Jalón Valley wines.

DSC03213I couldn’t resist having a few samples myself !  Skip was impressing upon us last week that the four worst things you can put into your body are, in order of nastiness, meat, dairy, processed foods and alcohol.  Yes – I know this, but as I steer clear of meat where possible, have very few dairy products and virtually no processed foods at all, I am allowed a medicinal few glasses of wine.  It’s such a lovely treat to sit down at home with a nice cooked healthy meal and savour a bottle of wine with it!  It’s IMPORTANT to keep the spirits lifted !!

Having said all this, our next stop was the butcher’s!  The freezer is now all stocked up for our visitors, with meat that’s as healthy as I can get it, and once more supporting local suppliers.

Yoga this afternoon at the Dome was good – I have no creaky joints at the moment (could it be because I am still smothering my feet with essential oils following my horrid ball-of-the-foot experience?), so the hour quickly flew by.  Teacher Ted stresses to us that we must remember his sequences of moves and do them ourselves at home every day. I can’t remember any of them when I get home – so don’t bother to try!!  I just do what I feel is right in the mornings, so probably that means I do what comes most easy and “could do better”, but heigh ho.

As it was getting dark, Rod looked out of the window in panic – “Fire!” , he shouted, forgetting that it was pouring with rain at the DSC03220time and fire would have been nigh-on impossible!  But the clouds were amazing, swirling about the mountains like smoke indeed.  Neither of us take for granted the wonderful sights we have just outside our windows.

The media is now full of the forthcoming election in the USA for President on November 8th.  There have been 3 live televised debates between the two candidates, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, but they happen in the early hours of our mornings.  Rod is so excited that last night, he was up at 3am. to watch.  These are debates which I feel would not happen in the UK..  They are slinging mud at each other constantly, and neither seem to be at all popular with the American people.  Trump’s main plan is to get rid of all the Mexicans in the USA and to build a wall along the border, which he will get Mexico to pay for. He lumps all the Mexicans together and regards them as the scourge of the Earth.  Very extreme, and unfair. Hillary promises to make sure everyone pays their taxes and to tackle addiction and substance abuse.

Neither of them flinch at interrupting the other in mid-flow and at finding fresh abusive names to call the other. Trump now threatens to not accept the result if he loses, as he says, the voting system is corrupt.  Two and a half more weeks of wrangling – whatever will we hear next ??

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B-DAY PLUS 231

WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 19TH

Rain again! It’s a funny old time for weather – normally at this time of year, the rain comes along with determination, hammering down for a couple of weeks.  This year, we have had almost English rain – almost drizzle!!  It was enough to cancel the Wednesday Walk – but perhaps I would not have gone anyway, as I had Rod and Pepe to take to the doctor’s for routine appointments.

Before we went, the carpenter came round, as we had asked him to, DSC03209to look at 2 things.  One was our annoying table, which needs professional fixing, but the other … !

I was shocked to see this, as I had no idea it was so bad!  This is a post supporting our carport, and obviously it has been the happy home to a population of insects.  The carpenter didn’t know what had done this, and suggested termites or woodworm.  He looked at the other posts and found suspicious holes in them, which, if they really are woodworm holes, must have been made by some sort of giant superbreed.   We have to get some stuff to paint on the good(ish) posts and lay out 80€ plus labour for a new one.  Grr.

DSC03150While I was contentedly sitting at my computer, Satch came calling.  I have never been a cat person, finding dogs far more appealing.  But look – Satch is a very independent cat and does not come asking for fuss.  What he does come for is to tell us Important Things.  There he stood, looking at me and yowling away for several minutes with this accusing look on his face, then he stalked off, having got it off his chest.  It’s nice to know that, if he has a grievance he knows where to take it, but what HAS he got to complain about in his pampered life ?  He will often do this if Pepe goes out for longer than Satch feels is appropriate, but sometimes, like today, he will just do it for his own reason and is not at all bothered whether his complaint is dealt with or not!

As I was missing my Wednesday wander, I did a walk over the mountain just before it got dark.  DSC03210Now that summer is drawing to a close, it’s heartening to see a few flowers dotted about, the most remarkable being this yucca growing by the side of the road.  Our flora may not have the charm of an English countryside, but we do have a few exotics !  If I were an ancient Indian, I would use the fibrous leaves to make ropes or paintbrushes.   I am glad that I am not.

 

I am feeling very small today.  For some reason I was listening to Radio 4 and someone was quoting facts,  I never realised that there were between 100 billion and 400 billion stars in the Milky Way. Just this huge scale of difference makes it curious.  We as a species are so unable to count them, no-one really knows!

I was so fired up by this incredible fact, that I looked on a scientific website (European Space Agency) and found this:

“Stars are not scattered randomly through space, they are gathered together into vast groups known as galaxies. The Sun belongs to a galaxy called the Milky Way. Astronomers estimate there are about 100 thousand million stars in the Milky Way alone. Outside that, there are millions upon millions of other galaxies also! “

 

“A THOUSAND MILLION !”, I thought, feeling very weak.   I then realised that this is equivalent to 100 billion, as the man on the radio said, and I still felt very very tiny.

Perhaps it was on the radio because the news programmes were full of reports about an ESA  Mars expedition which was launched way back in March, reached the destination today after travelling for half a billion kilometres, then went quiet when it was supposed to land on the surface and send back information.  It seems that it’s lost.

Phew – all these impossibly big numbers !  My poor head can’t cope.  I still can’t help but feel that we humans should get this world right before we start looking at others.

Ancient civilisations knew all about stars.  They built the pyramids in Egypt to align perfectly with them – specifically with the stars in Orion’s belt  when the mighty Sphinx would be looking  directly at the sun rising in Leo about 10,000 years or so,  BCE..  Mind blowing stuff.

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