Warning: Contains Scenes That May Upset Some Readers!

RhodesThe beginning of September saw us off my travels again, this time to Ixia on the Greek island of Rhodes, set in the glorious azure waters of the Aegean. Booked at short notice by my niece, Cheryl, we always enjoy our holidays with her. She’s a lot of fun and laughs are a plenty, thus we were delighted she wanted her two favourite aunts, Bunny, and her mother with her for what was to be a week of relaxation, especially for Cheryl who’d just finished university with a 1:1 degree in nursing and soon to start as a registered nurse at the famous Oxford Radcliffe Hospital, a very prestigious and well-respected unit in England.

Our all-inclusive hotel was close to the beach; my sister Ursula, Bunny, and I shared a room with a glorious sea view, whilst my other sister Lydia and Cheryl shared a room overlooking the mountains affording views of the glorious sunset each evening. It was a small hotel, rather shabby but immaculately clean and good, home-cooked food with plenty of Greek salads. Drinks were included but the beer and spirits were local brands which weren’t to our taste; a good job we all enjoy ouzo, which we drank plenty of. Yammas!

The weather was hot, hot, hot; even hotter than we had experienced in southern Spain back in July. Even the locals were saying they hadn’t experienced such heat in September; this was the sort of temperatures they are used to in June and July. We were only a ten minute’ bus ride from the main town of Rhodes, and had planned to visit the town on our last day as we had to vacate our rooms by midday and our flight home not until 21:30, but it was far too hot, certainly for me, to spend the day walking around a busy town. We had thought to do an evening visit but agreed we wouldn’t see the place to its full advantage at night; a good excuse to go back to the island, perhaps much earlier in the season. So, our week was spent either lazing around the hotel pool enjoying the facilities and entertainment or, as we prefer, on the beach, a short walk from the hotel, where the sea breeze helped to keep us just a little cooler.

Because Bunny’s not a good swimmer and averse to being buried in the sand, nor didn’t want to lose his little brass bell on its red ribbon he liked to wear around his neck, or his head, hippy style, I left him back in the hotel in the cool. This was a bad move and one I truly regret. For I have to tell you – and this is the sad part – Bunny went missing.

We came back to our room and he wasn’t where I’d left him – on the bed, sleeping off a heavy night on the vino. We searched high and low, moved furniture, looked everywhere. The sheets on the bed had been changed that morning, as they were every day, the top sheet folded into a fan shape, along with our pjs, but no sign of Bunny. My heart plummetted. Where was he?

Reporting his disappearance at reception, the receptionist’s eyes lit up in recognition and she opened a cupboard by the desk, retrieving… a child’s teddy bear. Not Bunny. She explained the sheets were sent out to a laundry who always return anything found, as it often happened. All week I queried his safe return, each time in hope, and each day she sadly shook her head. The answer was obvious: poor Bunny had been boiled! And no doubt the staff at the laundry spent the day wondering where the sound of the tinkling bell came from.

We’ve had lots of fun with him at home and on holidays, he’s always been with us no matter where we’ve gone – up mountains, on boats, coaches, played in the sand, enjoyed lilos and … and, I’m welling up now just thinking of him. And I have to admit, as our plane took off to come home, I cried, knowing I had left him behind to his fate. It wasn’t a case of bye-bye Rhodes, it was more bye-bye Bunny, I love you. We all miss you.



Tangible Memories

image-26I have jokingly said that if I didn’t feed my creativity with writing I’d crochet doilies. But seriously I think it would be afghans. And in fact, I have been giving some serious thought to doing both.

My mother both crocheted and knitted. The one in the picture she made me around thirty years ago and it has been a constant in our livingroom since the day she gave it to me. It’s the perfect size and weight. My kids and grandkids have curled up with it through the years. And if it could talk, it no doubt would have some tales to spin. Amazingly and thankfully it isn’t showing any signs of wear.

I taught myself to crochet. I’m left handed and neither my mother or sister-in-law who like mom knitted too, could help me. Knitting I never could grasp. In fact one of the times mother tried to teach me, my father said we should sell tickets as it was like a comedy show.

I never got beyond afghans, no sweaters, hats or slippers for me. But I did accomplish what I wanted, and that was to make something for my mother as she never kept anything she made for herself. My first attempt was a crocheted piece that used a broom stick. And then I saw this pattern and fell in love. image-27Naivete, or just plain dumb I bought all the yarn and started. And started, and started. I almost wore the yarn out until I finally came to terms with the afghan stitch that is probably the most simple stitch there is. And, I got it done. The lady at the store where I bought the embroidery yarn said it was an heirloom. Hah, I thought yarn alone would be an heirloom before I got it finished. But I did, and mother enjoyed it on her bed for years. I have it now and it’s horribly heavy so it sits in a cedar chest. I keep thinking I need to take it out and display or use it. Um, so where? ☺

Old Houses

H-1-Schmidt-HouseI love old houses and having one was, and note the ‘was’, on my life to-do list. They call them bucket lists now. The first book I wrote, I titled “This Old House” and my publisher changed it to “This Old House Love Comes Home”. A reader commented that the house was like one of the characters. That house was as close as I’ll get to having one of my own.

I enjoy touring historic homes but have found that there is only a portion open to the public most of the times. Not so last week. I had the privilege of touring the Schmidt Mansion in Tumwater Washington. It was the home of the founder of the Olympia Brewery. Maybe you remember the slogan “It’s The Water.”

It was an experience of a lifetime as the caretaker that started work there at seventeen, led the tour. He had wonderful nostalgic stories, even a ghost one. And, we saw the whole house. Some of the rooms are used as archives, some have offices, but he told us what they had originally been with such vivid detail that we could step back in time.

I took the picture of the front porch and the caretaker who conducted our tour is on the left. The house and family was a career and from his stories, there was never a dull moment. image-29

There’s a virtual tour and history of the house and family on the website. image-30


Done, done, and DONE…Triathlon Re-Cap

This gallery contains 2 photos.

I did it! I ran and I biked. I would have swum (swam?) if not for circumstances beyond my control. More on that later. So, as most of you know, I started training a little over 3 months ago for … Continue reading

Warning: System Overload…

No, not a message from my computer…but from my bathroom scale. The poor thing has been teetering on the edge for several months now and has finally given up the ghost. I can’t help but feel guilty that I was largely responsible for its eventual demise, and it was hard to ignore the groan it emanated every time I stepped on each day.

Despite having battled forth since January this year, I can only lament my dismal efforts to relieve the poor scale of the humongous motherload it endured each morning. So, as I unpack my pristine new replacement, I give it my assurance that I will indeed attempt to do better in future.

I know the main things I need to avoid – chocolate, cake, biscuits, sweeties. But there are loads of hidden calories in seemingly innocent foods. From now on I’ll be reading labels and working out exactly what’s in the things I eat and drink. While waiting for coffee at a local cafe, I happened to look up and noticed that the calories in my morning soya mocha topped 310!  Added to which, the calories in my evening low-fat snack bar were actually 175! Almost 500 calories per day on what I’ve been considering incidentals. I read that it takes 3500 calories to lose a pound in weight, so just by cutting these two things out, I could lose four pounds a month, and a stone in four months, three stone in a year. Wow, and double wow!

Now to put it into practice. My waistline…and new bathroom scales…will thank me for it.

Las Alpujarras Part Two

In my last blog I promised to continue the tale of my life in Las Alpujarras. The second house we lived in was in a village, Mairena, 1 kilometre from Júbar but although some of my new neighbours were related to our old ones life was different. We rented the last house in the village so the view was amazing, worth the steep climb up through the village. One downside was we were near a large goat pen which whilst a picturesque scene, especially with the baby goats, was pungent at times! I mentioned the San Marco fiesta previously, an important date for all the village, where the procession was led by the women of the village carrying an effigy of Christ. A local band followed the ladies and we all congregated at a special stone for the local priest to bless all the animals – horses, mules, goats, some of the children brought their hamsters! Everyone then followed the procession back to the main square in the village for traditional tasty stew baked slowly by the local women with simple ingredients, bread and local wine. Marvellous atmosphere, dancing, whole families joining together with friends and a very late finish.

Mairena has a shop, two bars, an excellent restaurant, Las Chimeneas, serving good local food with a twist and an olive press where everyone took their olives to be processed. Nothing tastes quite like the olive oil I bought there knowing my neighbours had grown the olives – real virgin olive oil. Whilst we had a good year time came to move on so we moved to Válor our last home in Las Alpujarras.

The cortijo we rented was very different to our other places, isolated but 1 kilometre outside the village, again with wonderful views.
Before we moved in the land had been neglected so Peter, my husband, set to and created a garden outside plus worked the land. We grew oranges, figs, nectarines, pomegranates and vegetables. The final January we picked our own olives and I bottled them in the traditional way, a recipe from a neighbour. There are so many memories that it is difficult to give a snapshot. The land sloped down to a stream (barranco) with olive trees and alamo trees, these attracted many different types of birds but the highlight of the year was when the golden oriels nested. Bright yellow but difficult to spot as they darted from tree to tree. Swallows came each spring, bee eaters flew overhead making their distinctive sound and most impressive, eagles majestically swooping down the valley. Wild flowers, wild asparagus, fennel, wild garlic were among the variety of plants dotted around the hillside. We occasionally saw Ibex, lizards, shared the house with geckos but were very wary of the occasional snake. Summers were hot but winter could be cold, thanks to our wood burning stove we kept cosy and warm. We had a veranda which served as extra living space during spring, hot summers and autumn. Breakfast outside looking at the mountains, little or no traffic noise with the scent of jasmine is tough to equal. Our visitors all relaxed as soon as they arrived and we had many riotous meals on the veranda.

IMG_20140506_203212Family visits in our two bedroomed house would have been a tight squeeze without the veranda! Válor had several bars but our favourite, La Azahara, was a central meeting point. I helped organise a book swop morning monthly which quickly became a weekly event, Paco the owner baked cakes to go with our coffee. The food was delicious too, excellent tapas sitting outside with friends is a perfect way to spend an evening. I must end now but hope once again I’ve given a brief view of a special period in my life. Perhaps one day one of you will be able to visit Las Alpujarras and have your own adventure.

Wedding Report and Excitement!

The wedding was lovely and went off like clockwork. No boo-boos but some very sweet moments and a crying mamma, bridesmaids and maybe the officiant got a little teary as well. Of course, the groom said he always got these allergies that made his eyes leak. Funny, he had no other symptoms…

They are a super couple and not only are they in love, they are friends and companions. They are fun and always up and happy. The groom is so cute. He absolutely adores his bride and wanted to be married for so very long. He kept telling me that we needed to “get out there and knock this thing out so we can party.”  LOL

The bride is infectious, never met a stranger and so vivacious, she wears us out… but in a good way. :)  I love her dearly and have enjoyed watching her grow even more lovely as each year passes. I predict a very long and successful marriage for these two if they go on as they’ve started.

Many compliments were paid to me on the beauty of the ceremony and some even said it was the loveliest they’d ever heard. That meant a lot to me. I’m going to share some pictures of the couple as well as ones of me and the bride and her mom in the photo booth which was a lot of fun (That’s a picture of a picture so I hope it looks okay).

AND TOMORROW, EXCITEMENT!!!! I am going to be on a jet plane to go visit our pals, Lavada and Laurie. I need to put them on notice that I will be ready for lunch when I get there!!  It’s a long flight. LOL