Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year

I am enjoying the last evening with the family before they return to Dublin tomorrow. We are having a few drinks waiting to see in the New Year and we will soon be toasting absent family and friends. We are of course missing my mother (whose in hospital), Sam and Fred.

I send my very best wishes to friends old and new who read my blog and I trust 2007 will bring you all peace, prosperity and much happiness.


Saturday, December 30, 2006

Hospital Treatment

I may have very little time to devote to blogging in the next couple of weeks. My mother has been quite poorly for the past few weeks and finally one of the Doctors at her surgery decide to do a blood test. The outcome of this was the hospital rang us at about 8pm and said she needed to be admitted immediately. She had a very low haemoglobin and a high white count; this suggested anaemia and an infection. Our local hospital is less than 2 miles from where I live which is fortunate. I helped settle her in to the assessment ward and after seeing a couple of Drs and having answered the same questions at least three times, I left her just before midnight, waiting to have a chest X-ray.

This morning she was moved to a medical ward and she's had a blood transfusion and is decidedly brighter in herself, so although pale she is less yellow and not so breathless. The chest x-ray confirmed pnumonia and intravenous antibiotics are dealing with this but at the moment she has a high temperature. They still have to find the cause of the anaemia, more tests are planned for next week and she might need another blood transfusion. However it seems at long last she is getting the treatment she needs. She is in our thoughts and prayers and we hope it won't be too long before she is home again.
P.S. She did tell me the food was very good (which surprised me I must say) but this is only day 1 or maybe hospital food really has improved since I was last in hospital!!


Friday, December 29, 2006

Friday 29th

In contrast to the lovely warm sunny (relatively for time of year) day we had yesterday it's dull and raining today so I'm not that keen to venture far. This is why I'm snatching a few minutes at the computer while the Beccy and children have gone skating and the house is quiet. Mum is still not well and we are seeing the doc later. Joules (son-in-law) is busy studying as he has exams coming up in the new year. Hubby is watching racing which in my opinion is very boring. As you can see nothing of note really happening in our household today so will see you tomorrow.


Thursday, December 28, 2006

Broccoli and Cheese Soup

Beccy planned to meet up with a friend today so I decided to make soup for a quick lunch. Beccy has an agreement with Mollie that if she eats this soup she doesn't have to eat broccoli but it's still a bit of a struggle for her. She managed it encouraged by the thought of icecream (bribary works wonders sometimes). The cream combined with cheese does make this quite a rich soup (quite good for dinner parties).

2 Onions
2oz (50g) butter
1 Pint (600ml) stock (I used fresh turkey stock today)
3 oz (75g) grated Cheddar cheese
1/4 pt (150ml) single cream
salt and pepper.
Peel slice onions cook in butter over gentle heat until soft. Trim and chop broccoli and add to pan, turning in buttery juices for a minute or two. Add stock simmer for 20 mins. Liquidise and season to taste, stir in cream and cheese over gentle heat until well amalgamated.

While the family were out I decided to do some baking having promised Ben a lemon cake and Beccy an apple and cinnamon cake. Both met with approval.

I am sure our dinner today is the same as many other families 'turkey curry' and I still have enough turkey left for one more meal. I think that will have to be a turkey and ham pie or turkey croquettes.


Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Meet 'Bionicle'

I thought I was the first person to surface this morning but Ben (youngest grandson) had beaten me to it. He was very intent on constructing "Bionicle' from lego and then proudly came to show me the end result. I'm glad I wasn't asked to help I was never any good with lego. I promised him I would post a picture on my blog today. Maybe we have a budding engineer!!


Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Boxing Day Traditions

I survived the big day and there were no hitches and I didn't panic, well hardly. I got up really early to prepare the turkey and vegetables and the grandchildren were very civilised as they didn't surface to see what Father Christmas had brought until about 7am. My sister-in-law popped in mid-morning for an hour to exchange gifts and there were lots of ooh's as we unwrapped presents from under the tree. I am only going to mention two of my presents and these are from Beccy and Sam.

Beccy had bought cream napkins and made me the most beautiful napkin rings that perfectly match my china. I've had it for over twenty years and I see it's now sold on amazon and ebay so no need to worry if I ever need replacements.

Sam sent me a copy of her favourite cookery book I think she is determinded to improve my cooking or turn me into a food blogger. I have been browsing through trying to decide which recipe I will try first.

A Boxing Day tradition in our family when Sam and Beccy were growing up was to play tennis to work off the excesses of the day before. Of course this also worked in reverse as it gave us a good appetite for what was to come, cold turkey , chips, salad and bubble and squeak (much loved by hubby). This tradition has now been replaced with a walk in the Blaise Estate about three miles from where we live but lunch remains much the same. I tried to get a family photo but the men were camera shy and turned their backs, however Beccy and Mollie did pose by this very old cottage.


Monday, December 25, 2006

Happy Christmas

Wishing everyone a very Happy Christmas and a Peaceful New Year.


Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas Eve and 1 day to go

With the family due to arrive this afternoon I needed to get up fairly early to finish all the preparations. The first thing I did was to wrap some presents before prying eyes could see. The rest of the morning was spent in a whirl of tidying up, responding to text messages from Beccy who was checking I had certain vital commodities in the house, taking a quick trip to the supermarket (this was specifically to buy fresh warm doughnuts which my grandson and his dad really love) and of course a few other things found their way into the trolley, particularly once hubby had walked down the drink aisles. We returned home for a quick snack and then Mike went off to the airport to meet the flight from Dublin while I did some last minute ironing and vacuuming. The fog had disappeared and there were no delays expected so I only had a couple of hours and if I'd forgotten anything it was too late to worry.
I decided I had just enough time to make the cranberry sauce before they arrived home, but I didn't quite manage it. Still Dillon (eldest grandson) helped with the stirring, and he did the tasting after I had added the sugar and port. His verdict was delicious so that's good enough for me. Now confession, with all those wonderful cooks out there I am almost afraid to admit that I've never made my own Cranberry sauce before. Don't ask me why, I guess I thought it might be difficult but it is so simple and I am now eager to try other cranberry recipes.

I thought I would share this photo of our family meal (my mother is feeling better but did not join us), we had Sam's Toulouse Sausage which I have made before and I knew Beccy was keen to try it. I served some hot crusty bread with the meal and it was washed down with champagne (oh forgot to mention the Kir Royale to help the chef along during the preparation and cooking). Ice cream to follow and anyone who read yesterday's post, I will repeat Green and blacks organic choc ice cream is deliciously rich, why ever didn't I buy an extra tub as I can see it won't last long!!

In case I don't get time to post tomorrow. I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and like me I hope you enjoy the time you spend with your family and friends. We miss you Sam and Fred but will be thinking of you xxx


Saturday, December 23, 2006

2 days and counting

This morning I was up collecting the daily papers at just gone 7am and out of the house by 8:15 for a visit to the hairdresser. I actually like being the first client of the day as I know there will be no delays, I was able to relax with a lovely cup of coffee and was out and on my way home soon after 9am.

I was back out of the house and down to my local supermarket by 10am. I had to buy a bottle of Vodka, as I understand this is now Beccy's favourite tipple and we didn't have any in the cupboard. The shop had opened at 6am so it was not particularly busy and I was very good just keeping to my list of mainly fresh produce and a few tubs of ice cream (some Ben and Jerry's which is a favourite with the grandchildren and green and black's. I can highly recommend their organic choc ice cream it's heavenly.

After a quick lunch I spent the afternoon cleaning and doing laundry. I took a break to watch the first part of the final of 'Come Dancing' cooked a quick snack while Mike delivered Christmas cards to the neighbours and now I am writing this before I settle down to see who wins the dancing. I love to watch ballroom and Latin American dancing. Back in the early 80's Mike, who was a good dancer, persuaded me to go for lessons with him, we enjoyed it and I still have the certificates somewhere to show we passed the basic exams. We haven't put it into practise for a very long time and I've probably forgotten all the sequences, not sure I ever really mastered the foxtrot that well. More recently Beccy has found some of my old dresses quite useful when they have 80's night dances. It's nice to know they're being recycled.

Although it's dull today the fog seems to be lifting so fingers crossed there will be no problems with flights tomorrow from Dublin. Family will be arriving at Bristol Airport around 2:30 pm. So see you tomorrow.


Friday, December 22, 2006

Last Celebration Meal

This post was really intended for yesterday but I had a problem with my server last night so here it is today.

I went out for my last Christmas meal on Thursday night with another group of ex-colleagues and friends. It's funny how I have been out more this year than on previous years when I was still working. There were ten of us in the party, including Cathy whose birthday bash I wrote about last Sunday. We re-visited Firehouse Rotisserie as we had enjoyed a meal there back in September. The following is an extract taken from 'FR's bring a distinct and unique flavour to the dining scene with a real feel of California and its regional cooking. Not faux or homogenised, you can really buy into what is happening in L.A and the South West Coast'. Well I don't know if this is case but I have been there twice and enjoyed both meals.
I don't know what you feel but I often find Christmas Menus to be quite boring with little choice and the food is not cooked with any particular care where they are catering for large parties (or am I being too fussy). Well I needn't have worried as this was not the case at Firehouse where we had four choices for each course ordered in advance. I decided on Chinese Chicken Salad with Spicey Sesame Dressing Toasted Almonds and Wontons, this was attractively presented was not too spicey. This was followed by Slow roasted shoulder of Chew Valley Lamb Ancho Cabernet Gravy and Mint Coriander Gremolata. I am assuming the lamb is reared locally in the Chew Valley which is on the outskirts of Bristol. I suddenly remembered I should be taking photos and I quickly took the main course but it was quite dark and the flash rather ruin what was in fact a nicely presented meal (I don't think I will ever get the hang of photography). The lamb was very tender and full of flavour, the vegetables were just slightly overcooked for my taste (I was the only person to choose lamb) but as far as I am concerned I had made the right choice.

For dessert I opted for Sorbet with Champagne which had a lovely lemon tang and was quite light. I don't usually eat three courses and I was pleasantly surprised at the end of the meal to find I was not left feeling stuffed.


Thursday, December 21, 2006

Winter Solstice

Today is the Winter Solstice and it is the shortest day and longest night. The last couple of days here in the UK have been very foggy and cold and this has prevented many from reaching their destinations as flights have been cancelled leaving thousands stranded at airports. Here in Bristol by lunchtime the sun was out and I have just seen the most beautiful sunset. It's still not dark at 4 pm which has actually given us a longer than usual day but I'm not complaining as I hate the short days.

Researching tells me Winter Solstice is also known as Yule, Christmas, and Saturnalia, occurs in mid December. It celebrates the birth of the new Solar year and the beginning of Winter. The Goddess manifests as the Great Mother and the God as the Sun Child. The God also appears as Santa Claus and Old Man Winter. Colours are Red, Green, and White. This is a festival of inner renewal. Strengthen bonds with family and friends by visiting and/or exchanging gifts and greetings. Decorate your home with lights, greens, and holiday colours. Bless your home with a Yule wreath on your front door and sprigs of mistletoe inside.
So this is the day I decided to post a picture of our Christmas Tree. You will not be able to see clearly but we have an angel rather than a fairy on top of the tree and a few of the decorations, such as the lanterns, are very old. Some decorations have been made by my grandchildren, who normally decorate the tree for me if they arrive early enough. This year they will be arriving on Christmas Eve and it's fingers crossed there are no delays with fights from Dublin on that day.
I know we still have a few days to go (thank goodness because I still have a lot to do) but I do have a turkey now so there's one thing off the list of last minute shopping.
Tonight I am going out to dinner so need to get ready; it takes me a long time to decide what to wear I will probably try on several things and end up wearing the first thing I tried on what's the saying 'I used to be indecisive but now I'm not sure' that just about sums me up.
The thought of a few more moments of daylight tomorrow is already helping to lift the winter gloom and this doting grandmother is happily anticipating the arrival of her grandchildren as well as her daughter and son-in-law of course.


Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Menu for Hope 3

Thought I would write my post early today as I was working on the computer. I have just been completing a spread sheet of all the UW bids for Sam to help with her post for today. I won't elaborate so you'll have to read it. I'm glad she's eight hours behind us because as usual I have been trying to find time to do this since the weekend. Sam said it was likely to take me a couple of hours (I'm slow so it took me a bit longer). I enjoyed seeing which were the most popular bids. Sam pointed out that many of the prizes will not be shipped worldwide so I intend to go back and change some of mine. I expect I'm the only idiot who didn't really give this much thought. What a shame I would loved to have been in the draw for the Kitchen Aid even had the adapter plug ready for when I won it!! For those who say I never win anything I did win this book (ticket was Sam's gift to me last Christmas) so if you haven't already donated to this very worthy cause you still have time (via Sam or Beccy both have donated prizes).

PS I gather Sam's post will be on Thursday so sorry to cause any confusion.


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

I'm losing the plot!!

I am having a much welcome rest after being on the go since 6am (yes I am mad). I didn't sleep very well because I had mislaid a present and it was on my mind. This year I did quite a lot of shopping over the internet which was much easier as I also shop for mum and hubby. So as you can imagine parcels have been steadily arriving over the last few weeks. I tend to quickly open each one and then put them upstairs. Yesterday I thought it was time for a good sort out and I started separating them out ready for wrapping and suddenly realised that one item was missing. Do you think I could find it, no amount of checking and searching brought it to light. I was so desparate that I even considered trying to order a replacement.

Fast forward to this morning. First I had a real scare it was about 6:30 am and from the kitchen I could hear my mother's alarm ringing and ringing and she didn't turn it off. I rushed up to her bedroom, went in and there was absolutely no movement I turned off the alarm, put the bedside light on at which point mum surfaced from beneath the covers. I don't know which of us was the most surprised. She had just slept through the alarm and we did have a good laugh about it but that little drama left me feeling washed out before the day had even started. On the plus side we later found the missing present in her sitting room under the bureau, where she had hidden it for safe keeping so that was a relief.

I used the next couple of hours making soup and tidying up before I dropped mum to the hairdressers. She wasn't really well enough to go but insisted so it was agreed my brother would pick her up at 11:30 as I had an appointment ( Head 2 Toe I will leave this to your imagination). Now to my second little drama of the day; I got out my cheque book and to my horror I realised that I hadn't noticed I'd already used the last cheque. If this had happened anywhere else it would have been embarrassing but luckily I know Maria well and I managed to scrape up enough cash to save a return journey.

Whilst I was waiting for my appointment the TV was on and I saw a cookery programme where the chef was suggesting making some interesting nibbles. He suggested making little piles of freshly grated parmesan cheese on a baking sheet which are then baked in oven, then left to cool (this crisps them) before removing from tray and serving with drinks. They looked delicious and simple to make so I thought I might give them a go. I'll let you know how they turn out.

Progress on our Christmas Tree- the sitting room is clean and furniture rearranged to make room for the tree which is now standing in the bay window. All that's needed is for the decorations to be hung. I'm sure most people will have their trees beautifully adorned by now!! A job for tomorrow me thinks, if it's done I'll post a photo.

PS a few days ago a parcel arrived from Sam and among the content there was a little gift for me and I used it this morning when I did my juicing. Sam had been raving about this little gadget back in the summer and of course I wanted one so thank you Sam, as you can see, it worked well (I couldn't find the post to link).


Sunday, December 17, 2006

Catching up

You may wonder why I haven't posted anything for two days. It's not for the want of trying but events seem to have taken over. The last two evenings I have returned home quite late after going out with friends out. I admit it's compulsive but I immediately log on check my emails (you never know there might be something important from my offspring particularly as I am going to help Sam collate the bidding on Menu for Hope 3). I read some blogs and then decide as it's so late I can't get my brain to function sufficiently well to edit and publish what I had written earlier. I know Sam will be quick to pick up on my spelling and grammer (not my strong points) so I decide to give it a miss.

So two days later I am back tracking to Friday when my feet hardly touched the ground, what with finishing the last bit of papering, everytime I got up the ladder if it wasn't the phone it was the doorbell ringing (well three times anyway) twice it was the post and the other time was a guy to read the meters (I may at some point devote a whole post to this guy and the electricity board). The result of one of the phone calls was that I had to meet up with my friends much earlier than originally anticipated we were going to a little pub in Portbury (the Priory for a meal and they don't take bookings which is a nuisance and as they only have a couple of tables to seat seven it's a first come basis). The pub is in a little village which is about a half hour drive (on motorway) from where I live and considering I was still in the shower at 5pm I think I did well to get there (thanks to Mike as he drove me so that I could have a drink or two) before 6:30 and I was not the last to arrive. I had a lovely evening with friends I used to work with back in the early 80's all but one are now retired and we don't meet that often so there was alot of catching up to do.

Saturday I spent catching up on household chores and painting before going to a friend's birthday party which she held in the Halo Cafe bar. You will see from the link how the premises has changed over the years. The live band was very entertaining but I had forgotten how deafening live music can be (I know it's a sign of my advancing years) which makes it quite difficult to chat.

Anyway great party Cathy and thank you.


Thursday, December 14, 2006

Nothing Special

I seem to have been incredibly busy all day but still not achieved all I set out to do. My plan was to get up very early and spend the morning continuing the decorating and then pop to the shops and take some flowers to a friend for her birthday.

Mike had left for work and I was in the kitchen doing the daily juicing when my mother called down 'I have a problem I need to go to the doctors but I can't ring until 8:30 for an appointment'. I knew then that my plans would be scuppered (sigh); when she finally got through the receptionist gave her a 10:20 appointment. So impossible for me to start decorating but to use the time effectively I continued to write out some more Christmas cards which have to be posted by the end of the week. Not much traffic so we arrived with plenty of time to spare and while mum was in the surgery I ran to the bank, got her magazines and the daily papers. I then sat in the car and had a quick read whilst I drank a cup of coffee I had brought with me. You might think this is odd but I remembered on a couple of previous visits sitting outside waiting for an hour so I now go prepared. In fact mum wasn't that long. She is back on antibiotics and she said the doc was concerned about her breathing and he wanted to have a chest Xray. She then said she told him she would go after Christmas- but didn't actually arrange it that means another trip to the surgery and then waiting for an x-ray appointment. I was not happy, particularly if she has anything that needs treatment. We get home and I am just finishing my coffee and mum says 'where is my handbag I think I put it on the floor in the kitchen when I came in' I looked but no sign of it. I also looked in the car but it wasn't there either. You must have left it at the surgery, mum was not convinced then suddenly she remembered she had put it down when she was talking to the doc. She rang and yes sure enough it was there so muggins has to go back and collect it. As I was out I thought I would call at the post office for mum's pension and get a couple of other things she suddenly remembered she needed. I also went to the florist and chose some flowers and delivered them to my friend who has reached a milestone birthday (shall we just say golden as a clue). She was celebrating in style coming to the door with a glass of chamapagne in her hand. By the time I returned home mum was cooking some soup for her lunch and the morning was almost over. I was very tempted to sit down with another cup of coffee but the decorating called and I resumed the papering. I worked steadily, helped by the radio, until nearly 3 pm when I stopped to make a sandwich and at the same time prepare a quick cauliflower cheese for supper. By the time Mike came home around 5:30 pm I was getting close to finishing. I worked out there are four more lengths of paper to hang so I cut those ready for tomorrow. Although the day started badly it ended reasonably well and I will make an early start tomorrow, well hopefully, I'd better not tempt fate.


Wednesday, December 13, 2006


Today my ex-colleagues (not all shown here as some had left by the time I remembered to take a photo) had their Christmas lunch in the Rose and Crown Pub in the village of Wick on the outskirts of South Glos. It's a pretty little place and the building is listed. If you're interested scroll down the page here for a photo of the pub taken in the summer when the flowers are in bloom.

Unfortunately I had to decline lunch, due to a prior appointment (sounds grand but it was just with my hairdresser, who couldn't change the appointment as she is fully booked in December. I was desperate for a trim before Christmas and then she rang and offered me an earlier appointment, as another client wanted a swap. By which time of course it was too late to book lunch- sod's law). However, I was able to join them for coffee and arrived having picked up Sue (who also retired same time as me) at precisely the right time, just as coffee was being served.

The pub felt very warm and welcoming as there was a lovely aroma coming from an open log fire burning in the bar area. It was so nice to see everyone and catch up on all that was happening both professionally and personally. Sue and I agreed that we had made the right decision (to retire) after hearing about all the changes that had ocurred during the two months since we had left. To think (yesterday's post) I was worrying about the stress of decorating, this is nothing compared to workplace stress. This dose of reality has brought me back to my senses (well almost). Do I really want to find a part-time job, maybe not; but as it's Wednesday I will just look at the Hot job section of the Evening Post just to see if anything catches my eye.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


I spent a lovely morning having coffee and catching up with a friend whom I haven't seen for a few weeks and of course it gave me a good excuse to bake a cake.
So you may wonder why I'm feeling anxious. Do you recall back when I started this blog I was trying to get my breakfast room decorated. Having got the room stripped and ready for papering a friend was asking her decorator to contact me. Well I waited and waited for him to ring and when he finally called the conversation went something like this:

Him: Mrs L said you wanted some decorating done, when did you want it done.

Me: Well the room has been ready for ages so as soon as possible.

Him: I'm in the middle of doing a room for Mrs L's friend... do you know her?

Me: No I don't know her. I realise you are very busy but I really do want it done before Christmas and I'm quite anxious as there's not much time left.

Him: When I finish what I'm doing I am having a few days hol. You do know I have a heart condition and so I don't work long days.

Me: Yes I do understand about your health. This is not a big job and there's no woodwork to paint. Can you fit it in I really need to know as I have been waiting a long time for your call and it's going to be difficult to find anyone else to do it at this late stage.

Him: I didn't ring because Mrs L said you were on holiday.

Me : We got back a couple of weeks ago. (Bit of a pause and I felt he looking for a way out)

Him: I have another job to do for the same lady.

Me: So what you're saying is you don't think you can fit me in before Christmas.

Him (quickly): No I can't really do it until the New Year.

Me: Well thank you for calling anyway, I appreciate it and I always prefer people to be honest (I was very polite whilst fuming really as I had wasted so much time waiting for this guy).

Then as you know I went to visit Beccy and then had the week in Spain which effectively took another 3 weeks out. You might ask what about Mike; no he doesn't organise the decorating and cannot hang wallpaper. He will paint and to be fair he painted the ceiling and did some of the filling and sanding. So it's down to me to do the papering. I am no expert and haven't done any papering for over 20 years but I'm getting it done albeit slowly. Next problem is the chap who always fits our carpets is also fully booked until Christmas so unless I can find someone else (highly unlikely with only ten days to go) I will not get my new carpet until the New Year.

As Beccy said they are coming to see us not a nicely decorated room with new carpet. I know that's true, however, I wanted a nice fresh room and I don't relish the though of putting all the furniture back only to move it all out again a week later. But I guess this is what will be happening.

To look on the positive side I've saved myself the decorating fees: now do I feel another holiday coming on....lead me to the travel agents!! and more importantly I will be able to give some extra money to Menu for Hope 111.


Monday, December 11, 2006

Well done Sainsbury's for introducing Biomaterials

I know in the past I have complained about Sainsbury's (my preferred local supermarket). However, I feel they need to be congratulated as today when I bought my usual organic carrots what do I find. They are using a new supplier and the bags for the carrots are made from biomaterials and can be composted. The farm (Bwlchwernen) in West Wales belongs to the Soil Association and has been an organic farm for 30 years.

The back of the bag is devoted to information about organic farming and explains that the bag will break down into compost within 12 weeks. This maybe a small start and of course organic costs a lot more but I feel it's step in the right direction so well done Sainsbury's.

The picture of the farm on the front of the bag is from a painting by the owner's daughter (Barley) which I think you will agree is a nice touch.


Sunday, December 10, 2006

Lunch a la barbara (winosandfoodies)

After trying out Barbara's delicious 'sort of omlette' see winosandfoodies on the day of her post I decided to try it out on hubby. I didn't have much time for cooking today so something quick was ideal especially as you don't have to stand over this like a traditional omlette. I had a pepper in the fridge so added some slices in with the tomatoes and the end result was served with side salad. The verdict from himself was a clean plate so it must have been good. So thank you Barbara.
I also just wanted to share this photo of Birds of Paradise which are so pretty.


Saturday, December 09, 2006


Although Mijas caters for tourists it is a picturesque little town with narrow streets, typical white houses and plenty of flowers and plants. It overlooks the mountains and the coast offering wonderful views. There are lots of attractive little squares, a park, cafes and shops to keep visitors happily occupied for several hours. There is also a bullring but we gave this a miss figuring one was enough (Ronda post).

These three photos were all taken from different angles of the same vantage point. This view is down to the coast and the drive takes about 20 minutes.

Part of the town with mountains in the distance.

Behind the town you see pine tree on the lower parts of the mountains.

This is 'San Sebastian" the street that you see on lots of the postcards. I was expecting it to be a lot steeper than it actually is and once we found it it only took a few minutes to walk to the top and back. It's a pretty little street and there is a church at the top.

This is the a quaint little chapel hollowed out from a rock and there are some religious relics on display. The candlesticks were quite impressive.

Mijas is famous for the donkey taxis. Although they are a big tourist attraction I'm not sure how the donkey's feel about this. They looked pretty pleased when we saw them trotting home at the end of the day .

I can honsetly say I enjoyed my first visit to the Costa Del Sol so I am looking forward the re-visiting in March when we plan to take a trip to Granada and hopefully Tangiers. As far as I am concerned out of season is the best time to visit. I know some attractions and cafes etc are closed and it's not really warm enough to swim outdoors but it's much easier to get about (less people), and the temperature is comfortable for sightseeing (gosh am I winging and turning into the female version of Victor Meldrew).


Friday, December 08, 2006

Birthday Girl


This is my mum who likes to be called Naomi but who has been called Betty all her life (as named by the midwife). Mum actually thought she was registered as Muriel Naomi. However, when we had to send for a birth certificate a couple of years back she discovered that she was actually registered as Margaret not Muriel. Anyway as usual I digress, she won't mind me saying that today she has reached the grand age of 83 years young and she has been opening cards and presents and receiving telephone calls from friends and family.

Now I hesitate to write this as there are so many wonderful cooks out there but she decided that she wanted a chocolate birthday cake from 'Waitrose' (this is a local supermarket where she used to shop when she was able to drive which is some years ago now). I tried desparately to dissuade her, I offered to make a chocolate cake. All to no avail she wanted a 'proper' cake that was moist and she would get her friend Kathleen to take her to buy one on the way back from their weekly trip out. Well she came home with two cakes one coffee and one choc. but she said she was disappointed as they were not as she remembered (it's better to travel in hope than to arrive, comes to mind). Now we haven't tried the choc cake yet and I just hope she won't be even more disappointed once she's tasted it.

Here's a little preview maybe it won't be too bad.

Anyway here's hoping you have many more Happy Birthdays Mum love from from us all xx.

P.S see she is wearing two crosses now that's another story I could tell!!


Thursday, December 07, 2006


Ronda is one of Spains oldest cities, it is split in two and divided by a river gorge. You will find Ronda In the middle of the mountain range Serranía de Ronda, at the edge of a canyon of a depth of 120 meters; to get there the coach had to contend with a winding road of continuous bends. The constant swaying made me feel a bit nauseas and I was quite glad when we reached our destination. The view as we drove up the valley was well worth the discomfort. At one point we drove through some low cloud and you could feel the temperature falling. Our guide pointed out a section of the old road which was so narrow with no barrier driving up it must have been a hair raising experience. The old town, which is entered through a walled archway, retains its Moorish influences and appeales to me the most. What could be better than quiet little cobbled streets, beautiful old buildings and churches and attractive little squares to sit and reflect, all-in-all very peacful and relaxing and although there was some breeze it was still very warm in direct sunshine. The views from the bridge, "Puente Nuevo", which spans the gorge, are quite different but all are very spectacular in their own way as you will see from the photos below.

Only a small sections of the outer wall remains. This is where we entered the city.

This photo does not really reflect the beauty of the gorge.

Some of the houses are built on the rocks.

Differing landscapes looking back to the mountains and down the valley.

This is the oldest bullring in Spain and as it has a small seating capacity, (it's not financially viable) and is therefore only used for special fiestas such as, once a year when the King of Spain visits. I am not really in favour of bullfighting so I will not go into detail except to say it takes five years to rear a bull for the ring, they are apparently lavished with good food, love and attention and it is a very costly process. Something you might not know Ernest Hemmingway and Orson Welles were keen followers of the bull fight, they spent a lot of time here and were friends of the owner of the ring who was a great matador, (by the name of Antonio Ordonez) and Orson Welles ashes were scattered at his nearby ranch.

Ronda is well worth a visit if you are planning to holiday in this region of Spain.

P.S. Beccy In answer to your query about the apes roaming freely as you can see they even like to do a bit shopping!!!


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Gibraltar (The Rock)

Having heard so much about Gibraltar and its colourful history it was high on my itinery for a visit and it turned out to be a very interesting day. Learn more about The Rock and how its name evolved from 'Jabal Ţāriq' after the general who led the moorish invasion in 711 and before that it is part of Greek mythology (Pillars of Hercules). This was one of my first views taken from the coach.

There are two border to cross a few hundred yards apart. Spanish and British guards came onto the bus to check passports. You actually have to drive across the airport runway to enter Gibraltar it's a short runway and no room for error!! However, on leaving the British allow the bus through customs but to cross the Spanish border you have to leave the bus and go through a more rigorous customs check. I think this is done to inconvenience people as Spain would really like to reclaim the territory but the Gibraltarians want to remain under UK sovereignty.
These are views of the rock from the bus station. You can take a cable car up to the top but we didn't have sufficient time to do that but its something I would have enjoyed.

There are some spectacular views from the Rock although the day we visited it was a little hazy.

There were some things that were just like home such as the lighthouse which could have easily been in Cornwall.

Close to the lighthouse was a beautiful Mosque

We visited StMicheal's caves but my photos were too dark. The caves are sometimes used to hold concerts and our guide told us Elton John and Cliff Richard, have performed there. I did manage to get a good shot of a polished section of a stalegmite which was rather fascinating.

Probably the most famous inhabitants of the 'rock' are the Barbary Macaques. Legend has it that if the apes leave then the British will loose the rock. The apes are friendly but you are not supposed to feed them or touch them and they will try and steal from your bag if they think you have food.

There are a couple of tribes, the ones we saw had Peter as their leader and he was well respected by the others and just look at this mother and cute baby.

Under supervision they asked it anyone would like to have one their shoulder well guess who was one of the two who volunteered. Now no rude comments about which one is the monkey.


Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Riviera Del Sol

I should have explained in yesterday's post that the Riviera Del Sol is between Calahonda and La Cala de Mijas. The closest beach is not, in my opinion, particularly stunning. I know our visit was out of season but there was a lot of debris and the cafes and buildings fronting the beach were shabby and unkempt so we were disappointed. I certainly would not have wanted to sit on this beach but it was fine for a bracing walk. Before I hear you protest, I know that I musn't judge 'all' on this very small area of beach and we did see some very nice looking beaches further along the coast.

In Fuengirola they hold a very large market on a Tuesday so that is where we headed by bus at a cost of 1 euro 5 cent which is very good value. Apparently, although there are markets held every day at different venues along the coast this is the biggest. It was an early start to get there for 10am as the market finishes at 2pm. There is also a 'Flea market' held here on a Saturday.

Anna (on left) was looking to buy a leather jacket and she was not to be disappointed. However, at one point, we managed to loose her for over half an hour amongst the many stalls and all the people. I was getting quite worried but Tina was convinced she would have gone back to one of the leather stalls. We retraced our footsteps (several times) and finally found her at the spot we had last seen her. After this little episode we agreed a meeting place just in case we got separated again. We had some much needed refreshments before returning to our quest for leather. Whilst we enjoyed our coffee we listened to some beautiful classical guitar music being played from a nearby stall. We all bought several CD's to bring home (mine were a little pressie for hubby). On returning to the first leather stall I did the haggling and we managed to get Anna's jacket for a very good price, so mission accomplished.
We were recommended to try a 'Tipi Tapa Bar Cafeteria' near the bus station and it proved to be well worth it. Everything was cooked to order, my bacon and quail eggs looked devine and tasted even better. Now why didn't I take a photo you might ask, because I didn't remember in my haste to tuck in and I was almost finished by the time I remembered.

Tomorrow I will tell you about our trip to Gibraltar.


Monday, December 04, 2006

First Impressions of Costa del Sol

We, that is my friend Tina and another of her friend's Anna (whom I had only met once) arrived at Malaga airport around 6pm (Sally if you read this no upgrade we did try but we were probably too scruffy) . The view flying over the mountains (Sierra Nevada) was magnificent. It was dark as we left the arrival hall to find a taxi, we began to worry when the driver who spoke no English (OK we don't speak Spanish so shouldn't criticise a person in his own country we later learned this is often used as a ploy to rip off tourists). You can imagine our apprehension when he didn't seem to understand where we wanted to go but we seemed head in the right direction from what we could see on the road signs. I won't dwell on the speed but white knuckle ride comes to mind.

However, when the driver finally took an exit road supposedly leading to the Grangefield Oasis Club that's when the real problem started as he couldn't find it and we drove round and around in circles. He asked several locals and a group of local taxi drivers who gave instructions and still we didn't arrive at our destination. He took us to several other clubs but not the one we were looking for. You can imagine we were getting concerned about the cost, was this genuine or a con. After a good half hour (over an hour after leaving Malaga) of driving around and getting back to where we started we decided to get a local taxi. We paid up 45 euro so not too bad we got in a local taxi and he took us straight to the door in 5 mins. and without knowing it we had passed the end of the road several times. We were ripped off this time 8 euro for what we learned later should have been 5 and I gave him a tip, still we were just relieved to get there.

The up side was that we were given a much larger appartment than we had expected, we ended up with three bedrooms and two bathrooms which was very comfortable as we didn't have to toss a coin for who shared a bedroom. This is balcony view of our first floor appartment taken from below.

The morning after we arrived I was up bright and early taking in the views from the balcony. I soon found out that the water I had heard was not pouring rain but a charming little pool which was home to several ducks.

Once the other two had surfaced we explored the complex and found the two outdoor pools. The temperature was around 20c and quite warm in the sun but not warm enough to swim outdoors.

The pools are not very large and I would imagine they would be very crowded in the summer but there were plenty of loungers for sunbathing at this time of the year.

We spent the first day planning trips (more about those later in the week) and we took a leisurely walk around the neighbourhood.

The roads are very steep and many appartments and villas are for sale and many are half completed. As you can see we did see some really pretty bouganvillia.

We also stopped off at a bar on the golf course for a litle refreshment. I discovered a taste for Sangria which makes a very pleasant drink. I shall have to experiment with some recipes now I'm home.