Monday, May 28, 2012

A day out with two Besties!

Two of our bestest friends here in Spain are Mike and Linda, who live blooming 3 hours away in the beautiful town of Ronda.  We would so love to live nearer, to each other, and therefore be able to spend more time together, but such is life, and we have been so lucky and appreciative that twice they have come to us on the train.  We have then met them and spent the day in Cordoba together.

For our last get together we decided to go to the beautiful Madinat Al Zahar, which is an amazing archaeological site in the hills of Cordoba.  Within it are the ruins of a huge, fortified Arab Muslim medieval palace-city, that was built in the 9th century!!!  This medieval city included vast ceremonial reception halls, mosques, administrative and government offices, gardens, a mint, workshops, barracks, residences, and baths. There are archaeologists working full time on the site, what an amazing job that must be!  We visited the beautiful Madinat Al Zahar, and had a lovely catch up, as always, the temperature was a practically perfect, mid 20's with glorious sunshine.  

We finished off the day with a beautiful lunch by the waterfalls on route to the station.   Can't wait to do it all again!

Our lovely friends, Mike and Linda!

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Day we found a Foal!!!

We were so excited that work was actually beginning on the worse part of our track.  We had been promised this would happen before even before we moved here, however Spain is all about getting things done "mañana!"  Well signs had been going up over the last few days, and mañana had in fact arrived.  Alan has on ocasions turned into an old Spanish man, no he does smoke cigars or drink "whi'ky"  but he does like to stand around and wtach the men work... in secret of course.  It was during one of these secret spying sessions he actually noticed a tiny horse with the work men.  We wondered if as a joke one of the men had actually brought his baby horse to work with him.  I admit we see loads of dogs in tractors and with the local farmers when they are working.  This was a first though!

We walked our dogs as usual then decided we would take a wander down to the foal and take our camera, great for the blog, I thought.  Little did I know the impact this little foal would have on our lives over the next 24 hours!

The foal who appeared to be with the work men

Little beauty!

Now you can see how tiny she was!

As we walked down to where the men were working they seemed pleased to see us.... they thought the little foal was ours, and had escaped from our house!  We explained that she was n't, and we had no idea who's she belonged to, or where she had come from.  Alan went on a little walk about to see if he could see any other horses around.  As you may have read in my blog around our Christmas time we often have "visits" from horses that, have let's say "inadequate fencing".  Alan however could not see any other horses around this particular morning.

We could see she was extremely young and looked very unsteady on her feet, and we soon realised we really had to do something!  The decision was made that we would take her back to our house, about a few hundred meters away, but up a bit of a hill, and go from there.  Alan phoned Andres, the vet, for his advice who assured us that as we did n't have horse milk, then any milk was better than nothing.  As I walked the little girl up to the house she became weaker.  At one point she fell on the ground and I cuddled and stroked her until Alan came back with milk in an old coca cola bottle, with a teet on it.  Luckily we had one in case of a baby alpaca emergency.   She was very weak but we managed to get some milk into her, and almost immediatly it gave her a new lease of life , we were so pleased!  We managed to get her into a little stable and fed her with milk and lots of cuddles.  She was beautiful!

Meanwhile Andres did a bit of private investigating and told Alan that sure enough Ramon, a neighbour, whose horses always escape, was expecting a foal around this time.  So we were very grateful that he phoned him and told him we had the foal.

Is n't she gorgeous!

Happy times!

The plan was that Ramon was going to turn up with his son, and bring the mare to us.  We had suggested they leave them in our stable overnight to bond, and to make sure the foal was feeding from her.  A couple of hours later, of me having the wonderful task of feeding the foal and having lots of cuddles with her, Ramon turned up with his horses.... yes all of them!   He did first have to find them of course!  I believe he has a leader who decides on the walking route for the day and the others all follow!  So Ramon brought this huge mare on a lead (sorry I'm not actually sure if you would call it a lead for a horse haha)  and sure enough the others followed behind.

Alan outside as ALL the horses arrive!

Ramon with a couple of the dogs he brought with him, there were others!

Ramon even had to bring in the "lead" horse, to encourage the mare to come right into the stable.  After getting out the leading lady we closed the stable door, and watched and waited.   I have to admit, although if it was an amimal of ours, we would have been waiting with bated breath until the baby was born, and we were sure it was healthy, before we could do anything else with our life that day, or possibly the next few days.  BUT life is different here, Ramon's horses are in extremely good condition, possibly due to the fact that they roam our countryside, and most of the year there is plenty for them to eat.  None of them look thin, and he looked totally delighted when he saw his new born filly!  His horses also are not hobbled which some are.  He had checked on the mare the day before, and they must have done their normal escaping trick after he left them, to go back to his house in the town.  The mare who was a first time mum, must have given birth whilt they were "out and about" and sadly panicked.  She did n't know what to do so she left left the little foal.

Over the course of the next few hours we watched the mare and foal become reacquainted, and watched her find her mothers milk, it was wonderful to watch them.  Ramon had told us he would come back the following morning to check on them, and take them home, although he suprised us by returning again a few hours later, that same day.  He was over the moon with her!

Ramon feeding his mare

Mum and foal
I popped out last thing before Alan and I settled down for the night, I remembered thinking "God bless" and I saw her for the last time before bed!  I don't know why, she was looking good, stronger on her legs and feeding well and regularly.  In the morning Alan got up quite early and popped out to check on them.  I was totally devastated when he said we had lost her during the night.  It broke my heart, it is still very hard to write about it now.  Goodness only knows how we would have felt if this had been our beautiful baby!  We phoned Andres and asked him to please tell Ramon.  Ramon came with his son, and they took her away.  We can only guess that the hours she went without colostrum just did not give her the food and protection that she needed. It was a terribly sad day for us.  I remember our vet writing two messages to me, the first said we were the foals guardian angels and the second even more beautiful, he said " Life is full of joys and sorrows, sadness touched today, tomorrow will be different!"  That meant the world to me!

Whilst we are walking the dogs we often see the horses, still escaping although still looking good.  If you would care to look back on my blog post called "Merry Christmas"  you will see the mare very close to Alan and I, little did we know at that time how she would make such an impact on our lives!

RIP Beautiful foal

Her beautiful mum!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

This years new Kitties!

Our mum cat, Barb, is the most incredible mum!  She lived here before we did, and has delivered and looked after a litter of kittens every year since we moved here.  We say she is part feral as she lives outside, or in the barns, stables etc, she certainly is not domesticated.   This year however is the first year she has felt comfortable enough around us, to let us stroke her!  We do feed the cats, most days, not everyday as she hunts, and what a hunter!  We have never once seen a rat or even mouse here, and we have spotted her with tiny snakes before.

Usually we know immediately her kittens have been born, as she straight away looks slimmer, all be it a little saggy, bless her.  This year Alan and I were feeding the alpacas, and we heard her loudly meowing at us.  She looked a little slimmer than she had that morning but we were both unsure if she had in fact had the kittens or not.  We called her and she continued to meow loudly.  Looking at her we noticed a little blood down her back legs and she was a little wet!  So I said "Have you had your kittens, Barb?  Come on show us where they are."  Well low and behold she took us around by the pool and to an area of weeds and, well junk if I'm honest, and walked down a very steep bank.  The bank has a high chain link fence around it and an old cupboard door pushed against it, as Carlos the dog likes to escape occasionally through gaps in fence.  Alan carefully followed to where she was going, and there, sure enough, were two tiny kittens, just a matter of minutes old!  She still meowed very loudly and we were a little worried, every year apart from last year she has had 3 kittens, and we really felt there was another to come, by looking at her, and she seemed very uncomfortable.  So we gave her some milk and food, and kept an eye on her.  She seemed more comfortable, after eating and we had to hope everything would be ok!

The following morning we woke up to find a third kitten and a much happier and contended Barb.  Luckily the weather was pretty good at that time and she was happy to leave the kittens there, even though they were outside and completely exposed to the elements, for about two weeks.  It amazes me the way she encourages them to be as independent as they can be, as soon as possible.  From day 1 she allows them to feed every couple of hours then she goes off for some time alone, or with last years kittens Xavi and Messi.  She is incredible!  Well done Barb, another beautiful litter!

The kittens were born down the steep bank, by the door on the right!

One of the first photos of the 3 of them

A week or so later, still in the "hole" eyes just open!

Introducing "Pedro"

"Silva" (David) also known as Smokey Joe 

and "Iker"  (Casillas)

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Zumba Fun in Adamuz!

Two of my lovely, and dare I say, younger ladies, that regularly come to my zumba classes in Montoro actually live not in Montoro, but in a tiny town called Adamuz.  It crossed my mind that maybe they would have friends in their home town that may like to do zumba, but did not want to travel to Montoro.  They eagerly said yes they did, and so I was excited about considering another class in another town.  Isabel and Beatriz arranged to meet Alan and I, one day, and took us to Isabel's parents bar, where we were shown two tiny rooms, above the bar, with marble floors, introduced to her mum and dad, and brother and heavily pregant sister, then taken across the road to her parents "electrical, plus anything else you may possibly need to buy in the whole wide world shop!"  And of course shown around her house.  These two ladies are so lovely, that although the room really was n't what I had dreamt about, but we decided to give it a go.  What could we lose.... not money once again the thought of us paying a rent or hall hire had n't seemed to have crossed their mind.

I bombarded facebook with posts about my new class, and the lovely ladies posted some posters around town for me.  The big day came, and we were met with double kisses all round, and we waited in the chosen, tiny room, with marble floor!  The class was due to begin at 7pm and at 6.57 ish there was just Isabel and Beatriz..... ho hum!  The girls decided to stand outside the door, and I guessed drum up a few friends.  Aproximately 5 minutes later the door opened and we could see many pairs of feet all making their way upstairs, to my class... yippee!

That first night was just so much fun.  We had 3 generations in the teeny tiny room, from Isabels neice and nephew of about 6 years old, to Isabel's mum and some of her friends, who took great delight in telling us they were in their 60's.  Isabel is a real chatter box, and I have told her before, that I bet she was the naughty girl in school, always talking, which her friend quickly agreed .  I could certainly see where she got it from, and the whole family were the same haha!  Singing loudly, and very often totally doing their own thing!  I loved it!!!  Sadly the free classes in Spain seem to bring lots of people in, then sadly many don't come back "because of the crisis"   Zumba is still going in Adamuz, we do not get many people in the class, however we always have fun and very often a good ole sing song too!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Brighton, and beautiful Maisie turns 2!

March, and I cannot believe my beautiful Maisie has had her second birthday!  Where oh where have the last two years gone?  I am so very lucky, two gorgeous grandgirlies, and I thank the Lord for whoever invented skype as most weeks I get to chat to my gorgeous granddaughters on there, plus more importantly see them grow into the wonderful little characters that they are, Thank goodness they can also see me too, so I'm not too much of a stranger in their lives.  I love the fact they both ask if they can talk to me on the computer!

In between Frankie working, we managed to get a day out to the Seven Sisters Sheep Farm, personally I was in my element, and we saw two lambs that had been born just half an hour before opening time, and also Kaci managed to feed an orphan lamb with a bottle too.  The plan was for Mark and Maisie to come too, although unfortunately Mark had just finished a run of 7 night shifts, and his couple of hours nap rather extended itself!  Hopefully next time!  Kaci loved it, and spent hours trying to feed possibly every sheep there!

Kaci enjoying feeding the sheep

Frankie is just a little more excited!

No fear, what so ever!

On Maisie actual birthday, I was invited along to her "grandma's" house where Becky had put on a lovely tea for us all.  It was lovely to spend time with the Callie's family and spend the afternoon with Maisie, after Mark and I picked her up from nursery.

Maisie's little tea party

 Maisie loving her chocolate birthday cake!

The following day I took Kaci along to Maisie's party and the girls had such a lovely time.  They both have had their parties at the same place so far, where there is a soft play area and it is just perfect for toddlers.  I love seeing the girls playing so lovely together.  I wonder if we will be saying that in a few years time!

The gorgeous birthday girl, Maisie!

As always, I try so hard to fit in visiting as many friends as I can, although my main priority of course is the family, and spending as much time as possible with the babies.  I did manage to see my 91 year old wee Uncle Charlie.  The last of my dear mum's generation, he looked fantastic, and as usual was getting ready to visit his local!  And I hope he can do that for a few more years to come, it was so good to see him looking so well!  I managed to fit in a very quick visit to my dear friend Wendy, and also squeeze in a sneaky hot tub night with my good friends Cathy and Claire, who I am so excited to be having over here for a few days this month!  Two of my former neighbours Barbara and Graham put up with me for a couple of hours for a catch up, poor Barbara was recuperating from an ankle replacement poor thing.  Plus as always a highlight of my week was a trip to the Haven Stroke Club to see my dear friends there! I can't believe I cannot get back until November this year, so hope my kids can manage an easyjet flight to see me here...... please!