Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A sneaky weekend in Brighton

My beautiful God daughter Miss Jenna Avenall now Mrs. Stringer, was due to be married in June, this was a wedding I dearly wanted to attend. Luckily for me, even during a busy time with holiday lets, I scarpered off leaving poor Alan to hold the fort, whilst I managed to get in a sneaky weekend, and see my best friend in the whole world's little girl, tie the knot.

It did of course mean I managed to spend time with my lovely kiddiwinks and their babies too. For once I had made arrangements for Frankie to pick me up at the airport and I was going to have my hair done, straight from there. Sods law I had a delay.  To cut a long story short the pilot was given three different gates to stop at, and I think he got in a huff and braked exactly where he was. About a mile away from where we wanted him to be! We got ferried out to him by buses, and we had a hysterical mum getting extremely cross as her "Baby was going to die, in the heat!" "Errrr hello, you have been in Spain, I really don't think five minutes in a bus is going to do too much harm."  The poor cabin crew!  I'm sure it can be an pleasant job when everything is going smoothly, but crikey they took some stick, that day! After we were all in, doors closed, seat belts signs on, out came the co-pilot.   He was very apologetic and said someone had nipped into their stand. A little like someone nipping into a place in front of you, at your local NCP I guess. Well he apologised and told us as we had lost our take off spot we would have to wait two hours. there was a chorus of "OHHHH NOOOOO's!" including from me. Frankie would be preparing for work, and to pick me up, and Louise was booked to do my hair. We were allowed to make phone calls to change plans, and settled down for a long wait. After all of about ten minutes, out came the "co" again, with the great news that we could be off in 10 minutes after all...... Hooray!!! He was now the hero of the day? Panicy phone calls were all made again, rescheduling for the second time! We landed approximately 45 minutes late. My hair appointment was cancelled. The lovely Louise however, did some juggling and fitted me in later that evening. We drove straight to Frankie's work, and I went off to the hairdressers from there.... phew!

Saturday 11th June, and we woke up to a glorious day, beautiful temperatures and sunshine, just perfect. I was luckily enough to be invited to the whole shin dig and Mark, Callie and Frankie were joining us for the evening celebrations. What a beautiful bride, there were of course a few tears shed, as she walked down the aisle with her very proud dad beside her, Jenna looked stunning. Jenna plus 4 out of 5 of her bridesmaids being in event management, meant the day been planned down to the final detail, in fact the weeks leading up to the special day had all been meticulously planned!

I was honoured to be sitting with the family and we had such a wonderful time reminicing, in fact I travelled up to the reception with Mandy, Wendy's sister and I don't think there was a break for a breathe for more than two seconds. Is n't reminising wonderful! We all had such a wonderful time at the wedding. I had a rather lovely rosy glow after having five alcoholic drinks in 9 hours, and boy did I dance, I have n't danced like that for years. In actual fact the dj said I was a good dancer haha. How good was that!

Wendy and Jenna, my beautiful friend and gorgeous daughter!

Oopsy after a little drinkypoos

The following day we were hoping to have a lovely family day out, sadly the British weather played havoc with that so Mark and Callie coped with a house full of us, for the whole day. The babies had a great time playing together, and we finished off the day with a good old Chinese take away.... one of the few things I do miss here in sunny Spain!

"I WILL kiss my little cousin!"

My gorgeous grandgirlies - Maisie

and Kaci
Fun with balloons!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Callie and Maisie come to Spain

Just typical, Mark my son was starting training for a new job and could n't come over for a holiday, however I was over the moon when Callie said she would still bring Maisie over. That's Marks gorgeous lady and my beautiful granddaughter aged 15 months. Like Frankie had done at Christmas Callie did the journey on her own, with the cases, buggy and car chair. It sounds a nightmare, but I am so pleased they have both done it, and all for for me!

It was a hot and rather humid day, and we were indecisive as to whether or not we should stop off about 30 minutes from home, to get Maisie out for a breathe of fresh air, and a cool drink, but she seemed quite comfortable and so we continued our journey. Thank goodness we did as the moment we arrived at our gates, the heavens opened, and stair rods fell. Alan got simply drenched just opening the gates, we drove in and sat in the car for 40 minutes, whilst we waited for it to stop, even just a little.

Eventually we got out of the car and made a dash for the big kitchen, on route we noticed our gorgeous nectarine tree battered and broken from the storm In the kitchen we found flooding from the roof, nothing new there, although it was the end of May. The casita that Callie and Maisie were staying in was also saoking and sadly too so was Maisie's cot. Alan ran around like a loony and battened down what he could whilst Callie and I, and little Maisie just sort of sat in the kitchen, waiting for it to pass over..... for quite a while!

Our poor nectarine tree
The pool was in a state
and as for the track .....

The track being in this condition meant we were unable to get out for a couple of days.
Eventually a tractor came down and flattened it and scraped the huge boulders out of the way that fall from the steep sides, if the rain is torrential. When we did manage to get out, the first trip was breakfast in Cordoba, where they do this lovely "toast" or "tostadas" which is like a large flat roll, toasted with butter or as the Spanish have, and I do occasionally, with olive oil and tomatoes. Maisie was able to toddle around with nanny chasing her, to keep up with her, and then off to the zoo we went.

Our trip to the zoo was almost identical to when we took Kaci at the same age. The interest in a particular animal would last from zero seconds to possibly 30 seconds, then we were on the run again. Cordoba zoo is lovely and quiet and it so safe for little 'uns to toddle freely around. However the donkies were a major hit, Maisie loved them and stroked them without any fear what so ever.

The gorgeous Maisie and I

Maisie and a lynx rather liked each other

Throughout the holiday, Maisie met and interacted with all the dogs and alpacas too, showing absolutely no fear what so ever. Our large dogs Arthur and Blue do I accept look rather scary however they truly are gentle giants.

Callie and Maisie with Big Arthur

One of the reasons Mark and Callie were hoping to return this particular week is because it is the week long Cordoba feria. Each town in Andalucia, and probably Spain no matter how tiny has a feria, and the Cordoba one, is pretty amazing, and the highlight of their year. Of course Mark could n't be with us, but we still dressed ourselves up and had a lovely evening. Maisie looked so beautiful in her little Spanish dress.

The gorgeous entrance to the Cordoba Feria which takes months to complete, and then months to disband again.

Two of my gorgeous girls, Callie and Maisie

Maisie meets a little Matador at the feria!

Flamenco dancing in a bar

Maisie loved the lights and music

Love it :-)

and with "Grandad Alan" (he's not really, but!)

We took Maisie out onto the big courtyard one day, where the dogs live. Immediately Arthur came and lay in front of Callie and Maisie as if he was guarding little Maisie, probably from the nightmare that is Miliko! Bless him!

With Blue

The day before we left with a tearful goodbye, we thought it would be nice to take the alpacas for a walk.

The festival of the patios

Our dear friends Mike and Linda, who we only get to see every few months, as we live three hours drive away, were determined to make it up to Cordoba for the very famous "Festival of the Patio's" Now I hope they wont mind me referring back to their blog to remind me of the right blooming ole hoo haa that had trying to arrange it!

It is a direct line from Ronda to Cordoba, so they decided to come on the train, until they discovered the cost was 120 euros return! Apparantly they had heard of a ticket that offers pensioners 40% discount on train fares, so the day before they were scheduled to come, they headed off to the railway station. Unfortunately, the computer was down at the station, and were unable to get them, and this is where the nightmare of the tickets begins. Linda had read somewhere that these cards were available at the travel agents, so they charged down to the town centre, and tried three travel agents. Unfortunately, they were declined at all three as it was too close to their lunchtime, and siestas were looming, but they would all be happy to help them after 5:30 when they re-open! So back they went at 6 o’clock and bought the tickets. Unbeknown to them they had to pay the agent a commission, more blooming money! The travel agent also offered to organise their rail tickets....... er no thank you, and they returned to the railway station to buy the tickets.

Would you believe it, the computer was still down, so they were told they would have to purchase the tickets the next morning, on the actual day of travel! Thank goodness Mike and Linda decided to arrive at the station early and were thrilled to find no queue at the ticket office. However, when they attempted to purchase their tickets, they were told that the returning train was virtually full and that there were only first class tickets available!! So, after chasing around for the best part of 2 days trying to obtain a cheaper price, they ended up paying over 145 euros, whereas if they had just bought 2 regular tickets in the first place, it would have only cost 120 euros! Bless them!

There was one saving grace however, a little light refreshment and a rather large gin and tonic too. I have a feeling it could be first class all the way now for Mike and Linda!

We first had a peak inside the famous Royal stables of Cordoba, where an equestrian show is held, it is called "The passion and Spirit of Andalucian Horse"

The stables are set inside a rather beautiful old building and the horses, are just stunning. The shows are not on until late in the evening due to the heat here, in the "frying pan of Spain!"

The Royal Stables

Stunning horse just been exercised

We thankfully, after all this palava, did manage to meet them at the station. We visited a few of the patios, which once again were absolutely stunning, then relaxed and chatted, ten to the dozen, with an ice cold drink. Viewed a few more gorgeous patios, by which time it was time for lunch. As Mike and Linda were obviously tied to time and the excitement of first class rail travel, the day went far too quickly. We had such a lovely day, with wonderful friends. We must do it again next year!

Some beautiful patios below!

Light, music and water show in Cordoba

Alan's mum Linda, came out for a well earned break in May. Whilst she was here we visited a new night time water light and sound spectacular show in the grounds of the in castle of the Christian Monarchs (Alcazar) very close to the Famous Mezquita, in Cordoba. It is a new spectacle, with a little history lesson, which is n't too difficult to understand as it is projected on the walls in pictures. The next stage is the beautiful fountains set to a mixture of pan pipe and flamenco guitar music. The fountains "dance" and are lit magnificently. It is lovely to be able to go out in the evening and feel comfortably warm, as opposed to perspiring out of every poor throughout the day, or feeling cold and shivery, as we probably would going out for a late night in Brighton. And at the moment, all for free. It was a lovely evening out! We started off with a delicious meal at a nearby restaurant, then wandered comfortably full, round the Jewish Quarters of the town to the castle. Great night, we would thoroughly recommend it, and actually had some guests go last night, who did also enjoy it!

A beautiful spring

Another stunningly beautiful spring and summer here in the rolling hills of Andalucia. We planted some tomato plants, that have been so successful, I shall soon be eating them for breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as giving them away! We also planted strawberries that we only had about two fruits from, so that was n't really a result, plus something else that we can't remember whether they are peppers or cucumbers, sadly nothing has appeared on them! Oh well you can win them all! I thought I would post you some rather lovely spring and summer photos to enjoy!

Wild lavender

This wild flower fills the hills
Nectarines on our tree

One of the two strawberries!

Home grown tomato, basil and olive oil from our own trees!

Poor Lily's abscess

After Lily had been sheared it was pretty obvious she was sporting a pretty large abscess on her right jaw. We felt so bad that we had not noticed it before, but were pleased we go down the route of "all off" during the shearing process, whereas some breeders like to keep a fuller fleecy face, in which case goodness knows when we would have spotted it. First trip was our main stop in Montoro, Andres the vet. He was happy for us to treat it ourselves having contacted a few good friends on the web, that have dealt with the same problem. It's great we can always help each other out when need be, with advice and words of comfort, and also exactly what prescription and dose you will need.

We began all precisely, measuring the abscess so we could see if it was growing. However after aproximatley three days the abscess had already burst. The injections were awful for her. Lily has a bit of a mite problem and is very used to being handled, and I think secretly rather enjoys it. She does little sighs as Alan puts cream on the backs of her legs, although gives him a little airey spit when he touches up her eye brows! She is not so keen on that. The fluid in the injections was rather thick, so we had to use a thicker needle that we would have prefered, it was so difficult to push through the syringe, it was really upsetting her, poor Lily. After a few days we began penning her into a smaller area to help her feel more secure and stop her leaping about quite so much, which it did help a little.

So aproximately three days after the treatment started, we noticed blood on her face, so we knew immediatly the abscess had burst, we then had to ensure all the horrible stuff was out. This was rather like a scene from the TV show Embarrasing illnesses, which is not to be watched whilst eating dinner. As we had read about, the abscess was full of a cream cheese type of matter. Good ole Alan is not queasy about anything like that, well strangely enough, apart from dog poo haha. He set about squeezing, whilst I cuddled, I cuddled Lily that is, not Alan, just to clear that up in your mind. Well Alan squeezed and pressed, and Lily was a star, I guess she was already starting to feel better! We had to then flush out the "hole" with betadine, then apply an antibiotic cream, and finally spray her with an insecticide. The last thing we needed were flies to strike in there. Well the treatment went completely to plan, thank goodness, and now a few weeks on you can hardly see a mark on here. Thank goodness, we shall certainly be more vigilant in looking for lumps and bumps in future!

Lily before treatment, and on the mend!


Usually shearing is a pretty hectic, although fun day, with friends that are able to help, staying for a bbq, swim and a good old catch up. This year however for pretty different, there was the sum total of Alan and I, Kym and James Dixon our fantastic regular shearers and eight alpacas. That was it! James and Kym spend most of the year in Europe, including the UK, and the rest of the time in Oz, their home.

The build up was a bit of a nightmare, we had dreadful weather and all of us in Andalucia were trying hard to keep our animals dry leading up to our appointed shearing dates, with heavy storms forecast. The poor 5 boys were shut in a little stable, for about three days, and the girls in a shelter too. The day before shearing we actually had some dry weather so let them all out for a run around, and shut them back in again overnight.... just in case.

Well the sun was shining down on us the day of shearing, well for most of it anyway. Due to the weather being a little on the dodgy side, we got stuck in straight it. As usual everything ran as smooth as clockwork. Bless his heart little Santa was crying like a real baby, as his favourite friend in the whole wide world Rafa was being sheared, he just did not know what was happening to him, and it all got too much for him when it was his turn, he just could n't stop green oozy stuff, oozing out of his mouth and a wee bit of wee wee happening too. Thank goodness for an old towel kept handy, just in case. Bless him. James and Kym stayed over which meant we could have a lovely relaxed evening together before leaving for our friends in Ronda early the following morning. Keep in touch guys, we wish you all the best best for the future, we will miss you xxx

Usually I post before and after photos of all the alpacas, but just for a change, just a few random ones for you this year!

The boys looking a little gloomy

Breakfast before shearing

Cassandra, she is such a star, being sheared by James

The girls follow Alan to another paddock, to make room for the boys

Little Santa, watching Rafa being sheared

The boys checking out who is who!