Running to catch up

Life has been very eventful recently, so both the blog and the drawing have slid down the priority list. (I’ve slipped away now and then to draw and relax a little but nothing exciting.) After the visit to Spain mentioned in my recent post, we came home and did Christmas preparations in earnest, as we had another trip planned before all Heaven broke loose. I do like Christmas, although it’s exhausting.

But before that we had another trip away, this time to Gran Canaria. Now we had been there before some years ago and didn’t like it very much, so you may wonder why we decided to go again. Well, it’s the loved one – he does like a bargain and he saw a holiday on offer at a four star , adults only hotel in Playa del Ingles. So, good price, no kids, good price and somewhere we hadn’t been before. Did I mention it was a good price?

Well we won’t go again. The hotel was fine but we just didn’t like the area. Although we do wander about when we’re on holiday, we also sometimes stay around the resort and explore on foot and this is what we decided to do this time. Mistake. Playa del Ingles is not pretty. There are some rather nice looking buildings, mainly hotels and apartments, but there are lots of concrete bunker style shopping areas, many of them with quite a few of the shops and bars boarded up and covered in graffiti. If there is a pretty part, we didn’t find it.


The sea front looks like a shanty town and even the admittedly impressive sand dunes of Maspalomas were a bit underwhelming. Fortunately, we go away a lot, so one less than perfect trip won’t ruin our year but, as I said, we won’t go again. If it had been our one and only holiday of the year, we would have been very disappointed.

I didn’t do much drawing while we were away, as it was windy every day and too cool to sit outside drawing. I did quite a bit of crochet, a scarf/kerchief for a friend’s 70th birthday. 70? How did that happen?

When we got back, it was all hands to the pumps in preparation for the festive season, more of that another time. The house looks and feels so empty after everyone has gone home and the decorations are down. Needed a holiday!

And then I hid myself away in the craft/computer room/ study/spare bedroom and my heart sank. I had signed up for several swaps with the Facebook group,

Zentangle Artist Trading Card Swap

and completed none of them. Suddenly I was overdue and was receiving lovely artwork from all over the world, well mainly US and Canada, and had sent none. It’s amazing how the fun goes out of it when you feel you SHOULD be drawing. No inspiration, no ideas, lost the will to live.

So I trawled Pinterest and emerged two hours later with inspiration bubbling out of my ears and I got cracking straight away. The snowy ones shown above came first and were, perhaps, the hardest. They ended up being much more representational than I would have liked.

And then it was Vintage Winter Ornaments. Well I got the colours right and then I got stuck in to patterning, using only Zentangle Mother Ship patterns. I’d forgotten how many of them there are, and how much fun.  I did the Rumpus one on the plane out to Tenerife in search of some warmth in these poor old bones and I couldn’t get over how it developed from random dots to this 3D flower garland. I was quite impressed with myself.  The bunzo/scena one was fun but less successful. You can’t see the colours on this very well – sort of peach and gray. And then I went for swags of patterns in pale pink, lilac and green, which is not a combination I would normally go for but which did, in this case, work reasonably well.  Just purk, pokeleaf and punzel  and it was a pleasure to revert back to old favourites I haven’t used for a while. 

And then I went for bronze and brown for the mooka one. It’s funny how that pattern haunted me for ages- I just couldn’t get it right, well, to my satisfaction, I should say. And now it’s a favourite and I just love using it. So I kept it simple and added Glossy Accents to the finished piece.  It cost me a fortune in postage but I was working towards a clear conscience and catching up nicely.


Which brings me to this week’s Diva Challenge. For February she is all about hearts, which doesn’t entirely work for me. I mean, hearts are fine but all this Valentine’s stuff is just a way of selling cards, tasteless and useless artefacts and forced red rosebuds that never properly bloom. Do I sound bitter? I’m not. The Loved One is the the Loved One every day of the year, not just on Valentine’s Day and I like to think it goes the same way for him too.


This week’s challenge is a string challenge – still going with my own theme of heart shaped strings this month.  The challenge is to use nested hearts as your string.

As it happens, I’m involved with another swap using black and white tiles so I nested some hearts on that to see what would happen. Not impressed but it’ll do until inspiration strikes…

DC 352

And that’s it for today. We’re off to the sun again soon, although the weather forecast isn’t entirely positive but at least the rain will be warm.

Until next time, world, be good -ish.


Letting off Steam

Not my picture but this is what the lake  looks like.

I was certainly letting off steam in my recent post, must have been ready for a holiday. Which is fortuitous, as we went off to Spain a couple of days later. We usually stay in Benalmadena and, as I have no doubt said before, this is an archetypically   Spanish seaside resort, built for the tourists and about as Spanish as Wigan.  For years I had nothing but contempt for places like Benalmadena, Loret de Mar, Benidorm, Fuengirola and I still don’t like them. But, because they are full of hotels and bars and open all year round, they are inexpensive places to stay, with all the facilities we could need and all close at hand. It was with reluctance that I first went and they were all I feared they would be.

The “real” Spain. Looking out across the town of Antequera from the castle battlements.
The same view but including the walls.

However, we get the best of both worlds. You don’t have to go far off the tourist strips to find something that resembles the “real” Spain. We hire a car and go off into the mountains, or along the coast to places less touristy and I just love it. So I forgive these places for the Irish bar, the Scottish bar, the John Bull bar, all with football on huge screens and English beer by the pint and a full English breakfast for 5 Euros; because I know where I can get tapas and home made bread, a view over the mountains and old men playing Hoy in the main square. I get crochet cotton and card making bits and pieces from the Chinese supermarket, “designer” handbags from the market and sardinas a la plancha in a chiringuito on the beach.  Reluctantly, I am not the tourist snob I used to be and I can accept the one as the price I pay for the other.

And if you want really old, I mean older even than us, these are the Roman bits. AND , there are neolithic dolmens at the other side of town. Doesn’t get a lot older than that.

So we stayed in Benalmadena and went off up into the hills in glorious sunshine, gloating that the weather back home was cold and wet. (We checked every day.) And this visit was special because we met up with a couple of old friends. I mean old. Not in years, obviously, we are all spring chickens really, but the loved one and his friend had done their apprenticeships together way back in the mists of time and we have kept sporadically in touch over the years. They have a house in Spain, about 50 miles from where we stayed, so we were invited to stay with them for a couple of days.  It was fabulous.

I loved the angles and the light and shade effects and, well everything, actually.

Of course, we did nothing but talk through every waking hour but we also saw a  lot of the country  because they live in a real Spanish village on a huge plateau where there are olive groves for miles and a lake with flamingos. (Laguna de Fuente –  see the picture at the top of the page.)  It has been a dry Summer after a dry Winter, so the water is really low and most of the flamingos have gone but you can still see some, youngsters almost ready to leave, shading from grey to pinkish and easily visible against the white of the salt around the lake edges.

It’s close to the lovely town of Antequera, which we had visited before, but it’s very different when you are with someone who knows the area well. That’s where we found the Chinese shop; there’s one in most biggish towns and they are a treasure trove of everything from Christmas decorations to pyjamas to bath plugs. I can be in there for hours.  However, there is an old town too and if Don Quixote didn’t visit it on his travels, he should have. It’s magical. I’ve scattered photos through this post but they don’t even begin to show you how lovely it is.

So anyway, we relaxed and let off steam and sat in the square drinking wine and eating tapas and gossiping with anyone daft enough to say hello. Ola! And I did very little drawing because we were being sociable instead.

I didn’t do the Diva Challenge either. Well, no, I did, but I didn’t post it because I didn’t enjoy it. I couldn’t persuade the two suggested patterns that they wanted to be together.

And when we got home I looked at the following week’s Challenge ,  which was to use the newly released pattern Dewd, which I liked a lot and will use with pleasure when I’ve got a fix on it, but not yet. All I could manage was a poor copy of what Maria did on the video tutorial; I haven’t worked out my own way with it yet. I’ve used it on a couple of things, including a winter swap tile and I think I will get the hang of it eventually.

And then life got in the way for a while and, although I did a lot of drawing, I didn’t do any blogging, so it’s three or four weeks later and this week’s Challenge is to use the Olympics as our inspiration.

Now this is tricky for me, as I find sport about as fascinating as mouth ulcers and don’t have either a competitive or nationalistic bone in my body. The Olympics, therefore, don’t do much to inspire me. Anyway, I looked at the symbols and thought, “Go on Maggibee, you can do this…go for gold!” Or words to that effect.

I went a bit off piste, so to speak, keeping the rings and the colours and that was about it. And, you know what? I rather like it!

So I’ll finish on a high note and and say, as always, be good, world, well, good-ish.