Viva Espana!

 

 

I used to look down, metaphorically, on Spain, as being overdeveloped for tourism and not very Spanish. I was wrong. OK, I know it’s hard to believe but, yes, I was wrong. Of course, some areas are like that but there are advantages even then. Torremolinos, Benalmadena, Marbella, Fuengirola are all over developed, full of Irish bars, English bars, Scottish bars, Netherlands cafes, German Bier Kellers… it goes on. In Summer you could not pay me to go there. Full of people in football shirts, baseball caps on backwards and bad tattoos.  Alright, I’m a snob and prejudiced.

Out of high season, however, it is very different. The cafes and so on are still there, of course, but nobody makes you go in them. And Spain does lurk just below the surface, you only have to look a little harder. Those resorts are good places to stay out of season because they have all the facilities you need and, more to the point, they provide an excellent jumping off point for exploration and the Spanish side of Spain is just around the next bend.

Get a hire car; go up into the mountains to Ronda. The drive is a little hairy in places but the views are stunning. You can stop and listen and there is no music, no traffic noise, no nothing at all.

how rugged can it get? So beautiful.
how rugged can it get? So beautiful.
Stopped to listen to the silence.
Stopped to listen to the silence.

 

 

Not a sound except for the goats and birds of prey overhead.

 

The birds are overhead, not the goats. It’s wild but not that wild.

The best I could do as a close up.
The best I could do as a close up.
Vultures overhead.
Vultures overhead.
Aforementioned goats - NOT overhead.
Aforementioned goats – NOT overhead.

There are gentians growing by the roadside, lemons and oranges on the trees and castles straight out of El Cid – you expect Charlton Heston to gallop across your path any minute. The air is clean and there is a scent of herbs on the breeze.

I'm told this is a folly, not a real castle but it looks the part for me.
I’m told this is a folly, not a real castle but it looks the part for me.
Close up of the castle.
Close up of the castle.

 

And, in Ronda itself, the town in lovely. Not all of it, of course, what town is? But the centre and the old town are really well worth a visit. And we found this restaurant. Of course we did, we always do. Looks a bit ordinary on the outside but…

Inside Restaurante El Patio.
Inside Restaurante El Patio.
Another inside shot.
Another inside shot.
He must have been running at a hell of a speed to get stuck like that.
That deer must have been running at a hell of a speed to get stuck like that.
Hope the two gents don't mind being pictured here but I want the world to know about this cafe.
Hope the two gents don’t mind being pictured here but I want the world to know about this cafe.

 

 

 

 

 

At the back of the restaurant.
At the back of the restaurant.

IMG_1392

and we had the Menu del Dia, can’t  remember what it was but all four of us enjoyed it and, much to the loved one’s delight, it wasn’t expensive.

So go to Ronda, it’s worth it for the drive alone but the town is fabulous too. And Spanish!

And then there’s Antiquera, off  in the opposite direction, behind Malaga and full of castles and ruins and nice bars.  We got lost and spent hours walking in a huge circle but it was worth it.

How many towns near you look as good as this over the rooftops?
How many towns near you look as good as this over the rooftops?
Now that's what I calla bay window.
Now that’s what I call a bay window.

 

Just a door, nothing special, justa  door.
Just a door, nothing special, justa door.
Looking across the town from the castle.
Looking across the town from the castle.

SAM_4184

Ask me how many camera dangling tourists there were – yup, just the two of us.

And we went into Malaga for the day by train. We knew parking would be a nightmare and the fare is less than six Euros return. Another city with an old town and lots to see.

 

The cathedral in Malaga, huge and impressive and ornate. Superb.
The cathedral in Malaga, huge and impressive and ornate. Superb.

And, everywhere we looked, there were tangle patterns.

Can I turn this into a tangle? Maybe someone already has.
Can I turn this into a tangle? Maybe someone already has.
This looks a bit complex for a tangle but it called to me from across the street.
This looks a bit complex for a tangle but it called to me from across the street.

 

SAM_7656

I know it's corny but they do look so right.
I know it’s corny but they do look so right.
An open air theatre. Look at the birds on a wire. Made me think of Leonard Cohen.
An open air theatre. Look at the birds on a wire. Made me think of Leonard Cohen.
The play of light and shade on this roof over the walkway by the port/marina had me fascinated.
The play of light and shade on this roof over the walkway by the port/marina had me fascinated.

SAM_7673

i think one of my ex-neighbours modelled for this.
I think one of my ex-neighbours modelled for this.
Inside the tapas bar.
Inside the tapas bar.
The tapas bar in Malaga with pictures of celebrated flamenco artists. hope they danced better than the singing.
The tapas bar in Malaga with pictures of celebrated flamenco artists. Hope they danced better than the singing.

There’s a Picasso museum, which we failed to find, to my disgust but, on the other hand, we had real tapas in a real Spanish tapas bar and asked the waitress for help with choosing. She was delighted we were interested and we had a great lunch, just like the locals. (Downside? Bloody flamenco music playing in the background. Am I being punished for something? I must have been VERY naughty.)

And now we are home again, subject to unending drizzle, cloud and chill winds. However, it’s only a few weeks till we go off again in search of the warmth, so I’ll have to get my Christmas shopping done quicksticks.

I did some drawing while we were away. I had a second go at the Huggins/Trio/Xyp tile and liked my second attempt better. Did another left hander too, which was also better in my eyes but pretty kindergarten nonetheless.

And a second try using Trio, Xyp and Huggins Again, better, I think.
And a second try using Trio, Xyp and Huggins Again, better, I think.
Second attempt at a left hander, better but I still don't like doing it. It's like taking medicine. It may be good for me but...
Second attempt at a left hander, better but I still don’t like doing it. It’s like taking medicine. It may be good for me but…

Someone I’ve been working with has moved on and I did her a little picture of an olive tree, to remind her of her ambition to go and live for a year in Italy and really learn the language. SAM_7638

And then there’s the new Challenge. I had real fun with tis one. I couldn’t think where to start so went on Tanglepatterns.com and looked up grid patterns. I tried Zonked and Window Grill but couldn’t free them up enough but then I found Snagz. This is a great pattern and I just loved it. So it’s a monotangle. I did use a sort of grid to get me started but rubbed it out quickly, before anyone noticed.  So, my thanks to Sandy Hunter for this Challenge. I think I may do more of these.

DC 195 Snag

 

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The rain in Spain falls mainly on…

Me!

 

Well it did for a day, anyway.

 

But first, government health warning.  I’m going to tell you about my holiday and, like the gangsters in the old films, I’m gonna squeal, I’m gonna spill my guts. What a delightfully vulgar expresion. So you have been warned:

 

Got up at half past four on Thursday morning. Who knew there were TWO half past fours in a day? Drove across the Penines and all went smoothly until they stopped my hand luggage at Manchester Airport security because of an unidentified substance.  My putty eraser, as it turned out. Anyway, they tested it and decided it wasn’t a major risk and let me through. (OK, I am prepared to concede a point here; stop me as many times as you like if that’s what it takes to keep us safe in the air. As long as you stop the terrorists too.) So I sat in the Departure Lounge eating an egg sandwich, drinking black coffee and trying not to watch the aircraft taking off and landing.  I am hot a happy flier.  You may laugh, as my friends and family do but it’s true.  Yes, I trot off as often as I can and I fly at least eight return journeys  a year. But I don’t like it.  It’s the price I pay to go where I want to go.

Anyway, this flight was no bother at all. I buried my face in mindless computer games and we were there by the time my poor old bones were starting to protest at sitting still for so long. At Malaga Airport,  my small case refused to let its handle expand for me to pull it across the airport. In a fury, I wrestled it to the ground, beat it into submission and pulled at the damn thing until it gave in. And broke off in my hand. Suitcase 1, Margaret nil.

Got the hire car; found our way to the hotel; checked in; got a free room upgrade; unpacked and trotted off down to the Marina for a coffee in the sun outside a favoutite cafe. Two happy bunnies. Excellent dinner and, having been awake for an awful long time, decided to just go down to the hotel lounge and watch the entertainment.  Entertainment.  They should be sued under the Trades Descriptions Act. It was a flamenco troupe. The dancers were probably very good, I’m no judge. But whoever told the larger of the two ladies she could get away with a size 14 was not being kind. Those dresses were tested to destruction with every move. The people in the front row should have been claiming danger money.

Now I know flamenco singers are not happy. They sing of their pain and sorrow.  This one certainly had a lot of pain and sorrow and was determined to share it. We went to bed.

 

FRIDAY

Got up to a grey sky, rain and a huge breakfast in that order. We knew there was a market in the Arroyo de la Miel so off we went, kagoules to hand. We needed them too. There were only three stalls in the market but I did manage to buy a tiny pair of sheepskin slippers for my baby granddaughter.  Benalmadena has two main areas, the Costa and the Pueblo, the latter including the original village from which the huge holiday resort sprang. It’s attractive in places and we wandered in the drizzle until we found a cafe for coffee and churros. Churros should have a government health warning too. Addictive?  Oh yes.  We drove back down to the Marina for a mosey round the shops and a light lunch. Mid afternoon,  the rain poured and we gave up, sulked a bit and went back to the hotel and the loved one dozed while I drew. And this is what I came up with.

20141114_175905  20141114_164426

The second one was for the Square One focus pattern this week, Hurry. I like this pattern and really enjoyed doing it.

That evening, we decided we couldn’t face the in house entertainment, so we went to a bar we know called Lizzies Lounge. Here we found a gang of about 18 Geordies on a night out. Loud, amiable and just a little under the influence of strong liquor. Bless. There was a quiz and we won a bottle of wine, which cheered the loved one up enormously and almost compensated for the rain.

SATURDAY

Much nicer day, gerlorious sunshine in fact.  Drove to the market in Fuengirola, which turned out to be a flea market and only a flea would have liked it. I have never seen so much tatty rubbish in one place. We didn’t stay long but drove inland up to Mijas. Now, possibly influenced by the fact that I was once robbed in Fuengirola, I don’t like the place very much. It has a glorious beach, a wonderful esplanade that goes on for miles and, on Tuesdays, not Saturdays, an excellent market for leather goods and traditional crafts. The town itself, however, looks as if someone with a wry sense of humour built a hundred low security prisons and called them hotels. It is high-ish rise, cheap and nasty. I mean, I don’t want to put you off but, honestly, go somewhere else.

Mijas, on the other hand, is lovely. I admit it is a tourist honeypot with donkey taxis and extremely narrow cobbled streets, but it is always a pleasure. The high season is June to the end of August along this coast and we avoid it like the plague at that time because of the crowds, but Autumn and Spring are lovely.

Just a little square in Mijas.
Just a little square in Mijas.
the terrace cafe where we had our tuna salad and basked in the sun. IN NOVEMBER!
The terrace cafe where we had our tuna salad and basked in the sun. IN NOVEMBER!
One of many little back streets. Good for the calves and the cardio vascular thingy.
One of many little back streets. Good for the calves and the cardio vascular thingy.

There was more entertainment in the hotel that night. I will gloss over it.

SUNDAY

Another huge breakfast. Our self restraint is non-existent. We seem to have this need to browse every possible ingredient in case we miss anything. Daren’t go to the doc for a check up for a couple of weeks in the hope that a miracle will have happened and the calories will have mystically disappeared. And pigs will fly over Yorkshire!

Anyway, an hour or so up the coast is the very attractive town/resort of Nerja. This is another of our favourites and there is a restaurant on the beach where we like to go for lunch – as if we don’t eat enough already. The thing is, they do this giant paella on a fire in a pit on the beach and all the locals go there and it’s all a bit rough and ready but totally delicious. GO THERE! We didn’t realise that Sunday was different,we’d always been on a weekday on previous visits, so were overjoyed to find the place crowded and noisy and full of bonhomie and, of course, food.

One batch ready and the next one cooking in the background.
One batch ready and the next one cooking in the background.
Just one of many batches they made that day, ready to serve.
Just one of many batches they made that day, ready to serve.
And you will see real Valencian paella has chicken, not seafood.  (Actually, this has both but that's a bonus, right?
And you will see real Valencian paella has chicken, not seafood. (Actually, this has both but that’s a bonus, right?)

Sunday was a good day, a really good day.

 

And Monday was Diva Day! Hurrah!  Well, sort of. I don’t like doing the out of my control stuff, so the idea of goinfg left handed and going with the flow didn’t go down too well. I did it, and I tried to be zen about it. Truth is, I’m OK with the tangle but less good at Zen.

20141118_091726

The string left handed was actually rather pleasing, if a bit wobbly, so I decided to just stick with two pattersn and hope for the best. Luv- A within the string and Knightsbridge as the background. (That way I could colour over as many mistakes as possible!) If you don’t look close, it isn’t too bad but…

 

Well, if you can stick it, I’ll tell you more about Spain next week. Hasta la vista, world.

Blocked

On the various FB groups I belong to I see posts from people who have a creativity block and I know what they mean. Sometimes I look at unfinished pieces and just don’t want to do them. I have a shelf full to busting with WIP’s. Some of them look a bit Halloween, they have cobwebs because they’ve been there so long. What I’ve found is, if you don’t have any idea what to do, steal someone else’s! So I want to share with you a couple of things I’ve found on Youtube because they keep me entertained and get me back on track. (Not with finishing those WIP’s, of course, but starting even more.)

The first one is called Shoobeedoodling and is a guy call Shoo Raynor doing art classes, sometimes for kids, sometimes for adults. He has a pleasant way with him and comes up with some amazingly easy to follow ways of drawing. Those poinsettias that I did for cards were from his tutorials and so was the mistletoe. Poinsettia I don’t always like what he produces but applying the discipline of trying his drawings and succeeding can set me off again. In teaching, we always say – give the learner a small success and he/she will be encouraged to do more and stretch – and it’s true.

This was a YouTube video tutorial either from Shoo Rayner or Miraculous Mosquito - both worth a look.

this is from a YouTube tutorial by a chap called Shoo Rayner, look up Shoobeedoodling, he's great.

 

The other one is called Miraculous Mosquito and again, I just love trying the things on there. Some are to my taste, some aren’t but they are all quick, easy fixes and suddenly I’m off on the road again. Mirac Mos 2 Mirac Mos 1Go on, have a look, it’s fun. Both of these are unfinished, of course, definitely need shading. So, world, if you know any sites worth a visit for inspiration and entertainment, let me know. Always up for something new.

I’m sneaking this post in at work, between appointments. There’s only so much dyslexia analysis a girl can manage in one morning and I’m currently overfull of support strategies and advice, so I thought I deserved a break and, as long as I’m typing, no-one looks to see what I’m doing. But back to work now, break over.

 

THE FOLLOWING DAY

Today was my last day at work until February or March. Hibernation has begun. In fact, I may not be asked back there at all, as the lady who felt I was such a godsend has moved on and whoever replaces her may see through my bluff and see the real, no doubt less educationally desirable me. Well, the world won’t end if that’s the case but let’s wait and see.

And tomorrow we leave for Spain, sunshine (I hope) and milder temperatures, as here there is rain, more rain, followed by rain and so it goes on.

So tonight I must quickly post my attempt at this week’s Diva Challenge. Again I have struggled. I like all three patterns offered by Hollie Attwater – Trio, Xyp and Huggins – but don’t find them comfortable bedfellows, so to speak. I’ve tried allsorts and this week I most certainly am not going to share the rejects as I did last week. Just too awful to contemplate. It got to the stage where I thought I was going to miss out this week, horror of horrors! As if…

Here, then, is my final version. I’m trying to perfect my “shine” but I’m a long way off. After I had done this, I had a look at some of the others. No-one else seems to be struggling and I do rather wish I had the imagination that one or two people have shown. Go on the I am the Diva blog and have a look. They are stunning.

Don’t get me wrong, I know it’s not a competition, but it’s hard not to compare and mine, weighed in the balance, are definitely wanting. the learning curve gets steeper! Onward and upward, I cry, well, onward, anyway.

DC191

 

Frustration, thy name is Margaret…

You know how it is when something should be simple but isn’t? Well that’s me for the last two days. I blame the Diva. Worse, I blame the Diva’s locum. This week, Chris LeTourneau, whose book “Made in the Shade”  is one of my Bibles, has offered us the pattern Seton to use for this week’s Challenge. It’s rather a nice grid pattern with circles behind squares and my only problem, I thought, was how to present it. Ha! In fact, Ha Ha! It’s taken five attempts before I got anything like a reasonable result and even then, when I went on the various blogs and saw what other people had done, I still wanted to throw them all away. (Mine, not theirs.)

1st attempt
Just couldn’t get the circles circular.
2nd attempt
Not good.

 

4th attempt
Shouldn’t have tried to combine Hollibaugh and N’Zeppel. And don’t even think about the Seton.
3rd attempt
Trying to trail off into Quib filled Betweed didn’t work either. (And I still couldn’t do circular circles!)

 

And finally –

 

At last
And this will have to do. Note to self, “Don’t try Seton without a safety net!”

 

Prior to this, it hadn’t been such a bad week . I did a couple more card toppers for Christmas, sort of Zendala meets Santa:-

Christmas Flower Mandala Christmas Mandala

And I did a Christmas card for my grandson, Ben which I was fairly happy with:-

Ben Christmas 2014

 

And we’re having a Zentangle afternoon at our house tomorrow, so I’ve been making soups and cakes for lunch. (Scotch Broth or Leek and Potato, with bread rolls made fresh tomorrow morning, followed by fresh fruit and/or Apricot Cake, Date and Pine Nut Slices or Lemon Drizzle Cake. )  Ask me to bake, fine; ask me to sew, OK; ask me to write, smashing fun; ask me to teach, you got it.

 

But don’t, I mean DON’T, ask me to do Seton again!

Going into hibernation.

When I agreed to work at the College I’ve been with for the past couple of years, I had been retired for about six months and wasn’t liking it much. Didn’t like housework – still don’t – and was, looking back on it, mildly depressed. so when my friend Debbie, by now Vice Principal at the college in question, asked me for help, it probably saved my sanity. And it earned me some pennies which have paid for a couple of holidays in warm and pretty places.

The college, however, is about 20 miles away, which doesn’t sound much, but there have been ongoing roadworks on the motorway throughout the time I’ve been working there, which reduces the speed at which I can travel and, to make it worse, if you don’t get there before 08.00 each day, there is nowhere left in the car park and you wander round the town centre wasting time petrol and patience. (The latter is in particularly short supply where I am concerned.)

So I set off about 7.00 to be sure of getting a parking space and leave about five, getting home about six. At this time of year it means driving there and back in the dark on very busy roads, which I don’t enjoy, so I’ve decided to hibernate. No more work until March. When I told them, I got some funny looks but there was a fair amount of amusement at the thought of me emerging from my cave in March, grumpy and sleepy, like a Yorkshire grizzly.  I didn’t spoil the illusion by telling them about the planned visits to Spain, Tenerife, Cyprus and Majorca over the next four months. Might send them a postcard, just to rub it in. Oh, naughty old me!

Apart from going away once or twice, what have I got planned? Family visits. Going to see my son and his family today, in fact. Plenty of time to cuddle the baby and play with the bigger two. I have booked another Zentangle class at the end of November, must do my homework first!  Our daughter and son in law, plus adorable Ben, will be with us over Christmas. Our other daughter and her dog, Kitty, believe it or not, will join us too.

And crafts. At present I am knitting a sort of stole thingy – although I CAN knit to a proper pattern, I lose patience easily, so this is just a straight piece in fluffy wool;  I am making Christmas cards for family and friends and maybe some for my daughter to sell if I ever get round to sending them to her; here are some of the most recent ones;

 

I downloaded this from joanne Fink design from Pinterest, printed it in a pale ginger colour and then tangled it to within an inch of its life!
I downloaded this from  a Joanne Fink design on Pinterest, printed it in a pale ginger colour and then tangled it to within an inch of its life!
Glossy Accents on the berries and a very simple card is complete.
Glossy Accents on the berries and a very simple card is complete.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Based on a YouTube tutorial by Shoobeedoodling - much, much easier than I expected.
Based on a YouTube tutorial by Shoobeedoodling – much, much easier than I expected.
This was a YouTube video tutorial either from Shoo Rayner or Miraculous Mosquito - both worth a look.
This was a YouTube video tutorial either from Shoo Rayner or Miraculous Mosquito – both worth a look.

 

this is from a YouTube tutorial by a chap called Shoo Rayner, look up Shoobeedoodling, he's great.
This is from a YouTube tutorial by a chap called Shoo Rayner, look up Shoobeedoodling, he’s great.
This was just a scribble that turned out better than expected. I'm putting some Glossy Accents on the berries and maybe washing the leaves with a little water to intensify the colour a bit.
This was just a scribble that turned out better than expected. I’m putting some Glossy Accents on the berries and maybe washing the leaves with a little water to intensify the colour a bit.

I still haven’t finished the big name plate for my son and his family; I still haven’t done all the little trinket boxes for my Stitch and Bitch buddies for Christmas and, above all, there will be more drawing, especially Zentangle.  Winter’s looking all too short to fit it all in. That’s the way, aha, aha,  I like it aha, aha… (Music fade out.)