Doodling and dawdling.

Playing with Koi brushes.

Dawdling first because we are away in Tenerife at the moment, escaping the English Spring. Did I say Spring?  Hmmmm. Anyway, it’s sunny here, with a gentle breeze coming in off the sea. Very relaxing. I’ve brought my crochet and pens, of course. So far, I’ve made two small crochet teddy bears and started a shawl/scarf but done very little drawing. This is mainly because of the dawdling. When we go out for a walk I take a little bag with yarn and hook and sit in the sun every couple of hundred yards to do a couple of rows of crochet. The drawing tends to get done at the table on our balcony but, this holiday, it’s a walled terrace which makes me feel hemmed in and I don’t like sitting there, so I prefer the small balcony, which doesn’t have a table to rest on. Hey ho, munt grumble eh?

And we keep meeting really nice people and sitting having a gossip and a beer/coffee/wine because you have to make sure you keep hydrated in these warm climates don’t you? Don’t want to get all withered and prunish do we?

It’s only when you go to places like Tenerife that you realise how many people there are in this world without any sense of self preservation. Apart from those poor souls who overdo it in the sun on their first day and spend the rest of their time with skin as tight as a drum, red as beetroot and tender as a good sirloin. Actually, I had a lovely rare sirloin the other night that was definitely less well cooked than some of the visitors to the restaurant in question. (Mainly Brits, I’m afraid.)

Then there are those people who go all the way up Mt Teide, over neck -breakingly bumpy roads, to strap themselves to a giant kites and leap off the edge of a cliff. We watch them a lot and it’s fascinating seeing them swirling in the air, finding thermals and swooping up again, until they corkscrew down and land on the beach with a well controlled run across the sand. Sometimes they seem awful close to the roof tops.

And of course, on Tenerife you take your life in your hands every time you go for a drive. The driving on the motorway is  -I’m hesitating to find the right word – scary? erratic? idiosyncratic? individual? Many of the drivers have that “If I don’t look at it, it won’t hit me.” sort of attitude and the weird thing is, it often works!

 

LATER…

Well, what with this hectic round of hedonistic pleasure, I’ve done little more drawing and arrived home last night full of good resolutions. I have a swap to do – bookmarks with borders. I’m trying to use unfamiliar patterns or ones that don’t scream “border” at me. A lot of false starts so far though. I’m determined to use Toodles, which is easy and yet not, as you can see from the two disastrous beginnings here.  Both on water colour card stained with very dilute Brusho inks. I’m going to gesso over these and try again on the reverse.

I’m not liking the Nzeppel either, trying for the Dingbatz effect but, again, not getting it yet. I had intended doing holey Hollibaugh through the Nzeppel but can’t quite make it work. Maybe I’ll come up with a Plan B, who knows? And as for the one with Verve in the corners, well, least said, soonest mended, I think. However, I think I might make a success of the wobbly stripe with warty blobs, whose name I’ve forgotten. Fingers crossed.

And the Diva Challenge this week is to use Paradox, so I thought I’d try it in a border frame for one of these book marks. It took ages because I did lots of small spaces, mainly because my lines go all wobbly if they are long. And then the shading went belly up because I thought the pencil was brown ish and it was really a sort of mustard. anyway, I mixed in a couple of other colours ans it doesn’t look to bad now.

 

And so, world, I’ll say a fond farewell until next time. Be good -ish, won’t you?

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Fast and Furious

No this is not another rant about people who drive too fast and make me furious. It’s more about trying to be fast and ending up being furious because I should have taken my time. It’s my default method with just about everything I do, whether for work or play. Enjoying the process for its own sake is still something I struggle with at times.

However, last week’s Diva Challenge really helped me just get into the process. The pattern was Verve, which is a favourite of mine but it had sort of slipped into my mental background, so to speak. Having done the Challenge, I felt the need to do more, so I had a look through my new journal and found a page with a sort of small, geometric patterned background. Why I didn’t choose something curvy to go with Verve I don’t know but I’m not sorry.

Instead of using a string and filling the spaces with Verve, I drew the little rings that it begins with, as if starting Rumpus, and set off to see where it took me. I coloured and shaded with Promarker pens in colours I thought toned with the paper and I was really pleased with the result. (See? Modest too!)

 

This is going to be a challenge but I will draw on it, just to see what happens, making sure I don’t use alcohol pens, thus ruining the other side.

The drawback with using alcohol based pens like Promarkers is that they often soak through the paper, an effect I had forgotten, so when I turned to the next page, I discovered that the back of my drawing, which happened to be on a double sided paper, had a character all its own.  To my chagrin, it didn’t end there, as you can see from the picture below. I think I will just join the dots and go on from there!

 

It had even soaked through onto the page below.

Looking at other people’s responses to the Diva Challenge gives me a lot of pleasure – and ideas – and last week I read Cyndee Pelley’s blog https://thetirelesstangler.com/2018/03/14/diva-challenge-355-and-the-new-kitchen-table-tangle/. Her take on Verve was lovely but she had also linked to the new video from Zentangle HQ which was a version of Molygon. Reverting to my usual fast and furious, I had a go on the reverse side of the previous one, using the shapes where the ink had soaked through.

Not working so far, although i may go back and give it some welly at a later time.

Bad idea,bad approach, bad result. So I went and had a cup of tea and gave myself a little talking to about one stroke at a time and so on. When I got back to my tangling, I decided that this time I was going to have to go against ZTHQ diktat and use some pencil lines to guide my first attempt at the shape. Naughty, but the first attempt told me that this was not an occasion to throw caution to the winds.

So I made myself a string to guide my Molygons and tried again. It took ages because I was trying to concentrate and I had the video playing onscreen for reference. It’s a very detailed piece, using the Maria method, although very satisfying too.  I used Brusho inks and water colour pencils for the colour and shade and I think I’m going to fill in the background with Printemps or Sandswirl in light grey plus a frame to finish it off. Haven’t given much thought to the patterns for the frame yet.

And soon it will be Diva Day.

In fact, it was yesterday but I didn’t see it until quite late.

Weekly Challenge #356: “What’s in a name?”

That’s right people! It’s a String Theory challenge.  This week’s challenge is to use your name as your string! 🙂 If you don’t want to use your name, or maybe you’re in the witness protection program and you don’t want anyone to know your name, feel free to use any word you like.

Begin with dots and border, then starting from somewhere on the border – write your name in cursive to divide up the tile.  You may have to look at the length of your name, and adjust accordingly.

DC 356

Having eight letters in my name, writing them in my wobbly version of cursive script really wasn’t an option, so I decided on control instead. I divided my tile into boxes and put the letters in them. Sticking with the grid I had made, I chose just one pattern, Measles, by Judith Hopkinson and used it as a frame.  I think the shading helps.

 

 

At which point I will say a fond farewell and go and finish my packing. Defeated by the weather, we are off to the Canaries again to warm these old bones. I wonder where people from the Canaries go…

Anyway, that’s it until next time , so be good, world, won’t you? (Well, good-ish.)

 

Trying Something New-ish

Did this one for a swap a little while ago.

So I followed a link on Facebook the other day and found myself joining another Zentangle oriented group called Zentangle All Around. It has a lot of people doing ZIA’s and they seemed a friendly bunch so I decided to join.

Zentangle All Around is open to anyone who is interested and will follow the rules. We are committed to the exploration of tangle art and its components in a safe and inspirational environment. Basically play nice, be supportive and encouraging of each other, or it’s on the road you will go.

I liked the no nonsense approach and I’ve not been disappointed, enjoying reading the posts and seeing the work. Within a couple of days of joining, one of the Admins put up a sort of competition where she offered things from her Etsy shop, I think, to anyone who wrote a comment saying which one they would like. In for a penny, in for a pound, I told her I’d love one of the hand made journals. It was all names into a hat so I had no expectations but, while we were in Spain, I got a notification saying I’d won one.  I was thrilled out of all proportion to the importance of the event because I never win things, so I was happy as a lark.

I mentioned last time about our less than perfect experience coming home from that trip, but to find a note through the door saying Royal Mail had been unable to deliver a parcel cheered me up no end and they re-delivered the following day. It’s a postcard size journal, ring bound, made up of all sorts of paper and card and I couldn’t wait to get started.

This is from when I was working on the cover of my new sketchbook – journal to be.

The trouble was, I’ve tried journals before and I give up very quickly. I think it’s because, in the past, I’ve treated them as a sort of diary, you know, “what I did today…”. The truth is, what I do today isn’t usually worth recording. I started one a couple of years ago to record my Zentangle “journey” and gave up to avoid dying of embarrassment. I had been writing as though my teacher from junior school would be reading it, all full of good intentions and nicey nicey. In case you haven’t guessed, that is NOT me. Hence, I gave up.

The finished cover, significantly scruffier as you can see.

You may remember, however, that I did the Little summer Project with the Facebook group Zentangle: Tangled and Journaled Too, which is now, alas, extinct.  Over the twelve weeks of July/August/September we did something for a prompt every day, which was both exhilarating and infuriating in about equal measure. But the point is, I did it. So I can do it, if I get the attitude right. (Now where have I heard that before? )

The latest page. I was quite pleased with the lettering, which is not a strong point but the patterning is a bit, as my daughters say “Meh.”

The new journal, therefore, has begun. Very little writing unless I feel like it and no set routine for what or when I use it. In fact, I showed a couple of the pages in a recent post and have done another since then. I’m trying to remember to date each entry and that is one of the two rules. The other is, no matter how bad it is, it stays in. Going fine so far. We’ll see.

The page here being March, I think I’d like to do one for each month, with different styles of lettering each time. there I go again, making rules for myself. Doh!

This blue one is what I did in advance as an example for everyone to refer to.

We had a Stitch and Bitch at my house the other day and there were seven of us sitting around the table making paper decorations based on a Dorian Eng tutorial I saw on You Tube. (Where would I be without You Tube?) If you are interested, here’s where I found it.    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S_K9ByDo-8Q&t=5s   We didn’t tangle the card but used patterned paper in three sizes to make a sort of mobile. It was a lot of fun and everyone made a successful finished piece.

And this purple one is the one I did on the day at our Stitch and Bitch group.

 

They now hang in my craft room window, at least for a while.

Two new-ish things tried and successful so far.  All very positive.

So then we have the Diva Challenge due. Bring it on, Laura, bring it on…

 

LATER…

And she didn’t disappoint. This week’d Challenge is to use the tangle pattern Verve, which is one of my all time favourites, I’ve used it for a string on bigger pieces but less often small scale, so when she said on her video that it made a good filler, I decided that’s where I would start.

I searched my new journal for a suitable page, couldn’t find one that shouted out to me so I thought, Dammit, Maggibee, just use the next page and make it work for you. So I did, and here it is. (I wish I’d done a “before” picture, sorry.)

The background paper was lovely but didn’t work too well with pens and water colour because some of the print had a glossy surface. I feel I can do better but IIWII
The colours are brighter than they show up here but it’s too big to scan. (12″x12″) I actually like this one enough to put it on the wall.

So, having run out of Verve,but literally and figuratively, I’ll say a fond farewell and recommend, as always, that you be good-ish until we meet again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We Are Our Fathers’ Children

Last time, I mentioned that my Dad used to recite bits of verse to me, as much to his own amusement as mine, in fact, more. Although he did include some classics, there were lots of bits of doggerel and dialect rhymes. My own children groan if I start to remind them (Not that it stops me, of course.) and now I tell the grandchildren. To use an old Yorkshire expression, they look at me like tripe when I do some of them.

“Our ‘ouse

Is a nice ‘ouse,

Next door is Mr Waterhouse’s ‘ouse.

Next door to Mr Waterhouse’s ‘ouse is Mr Waterhouse’s daughter’s ‘ouse.

Next door to Waterhouse’s daughter’s  ‘ouse,

Is the public ‘ouse, the counting ‘ouse, the slaughter ‘ouse

And in case you’d like to know, the next ‘ouse in the row,

Is everybody’s ‘ouse and that’s the woooooork ‘ouse.”

Of course nobody nowadays knows about the workhouse, the counting house (bank) or the slaughter house (abattoir) so it loses a lot in translation. We used to sing it as a rousing marching song  to up the pace when we were out hiking and I was starting to get tired.

And then there was:

“Ya can’t put yer muck in ah dustbin, ah dustbin, ah dustbin,

Ya can’t put yer muck in ah dustbin, ah dustbin’s full.

Thiz rahnd uns n square uns and square uns n rahnd uns

But ya can’t put yer muck in ah dustbin, ah dustbin’s full.”

Simple things entertained us in those days.

Oh dear, now I KNOW I’m getting old. Pretending that the old days were the good days. Bring back the birch, hanging and rickets.

So back to the present and tangling, which has been very satisfying, and then again, not.  In my need to catch up on swaps, and yes, all OK now, (I think) I had to do a set of five zendalas, double sided to boot. In a panic, I got going smartish and this is what I came up with:

 Only when I was getting them ready to post, did i find the ones I had already started several weeks previously. I was not amused but my transatlantic friends got duplicates, to compensate for their lateness.  So now I am up to date and only slightly smug. We are hoping to see our friends in Spain quite soon so I am in the middle of a little drawing for them. In addition, I have been experimenting with mixed media bits and pieces, although I’m making more mess than success so far. It’ll come, eventually.

I had a canvas about A4 size (Letter size for those of you in the USA) and decided to do a mixed media piece on it. I spent a fair amount of time on Youtube watching what other people did. I learned how to make gesso and texture paste. (Very enjoyable and messy , it was just like slopdosh when I was a child.)  I used lace, beads and paper flowers, cork hearts and a big chipboard one too. I used acrylic paint in a range of colours and I slopped it all over with PVA glue.

And it looked awful.  Really awful.

So I put it on one side in the hope that I would be inspired, realise what was wrong with it and make it a work of art after all.  after a week or so I got it on the desk and slopped some more texture paste on it, recoloured it with Brusho inks and a spray and sat back. It’s better but it’s still not a work of art. But I’m going to keep it as a lesson to myself.

A. Have some sort of clue as to how you want it to turn out.

B. Plan what you are going to do.

C. Don’t go off half cocked and then wonder why it went wrong.

OR…

Stick to crochet!

I’ve added some darker areas since I took the pic but it’s still not right.

And it’ll soon be the Diva Challenge- looking forward to it.

LATER

Which proved to be a bit of a disappointment. It’s Use My Tangle and the tangle in question was Siri, by Simone Menzel.  A very pretty pattern but I really don’t cope well with grid based tangles and this is quite detailed. The finished product – by other people – is often very attractive but all I got was scratchy messes. So I used it as a string and suddenly I quite liked it. This is my first ever renaissance tile and I really enjoyed it. Just goes to show.

Using brown Micron and Uniball white pens.So that’s it for now. Until we meet again, world, be good. ish.

 

 

 

Is Spring finally sprung? 2

Did your Dad used to recite to you…

“The Spring is sprung,

The grass is riz,

I wonder where the flowers is.

The bird is on the wing, they say, but that’s absurd,

The wing is on the bird.”

A bit busy but I was going for a paisley design.

Mine did, and he always thought it hilarious. For some reason it tickled him and I can remember, as a teenager, sneering behind his back that he STILL found it funny. You know, that Daaaaaaaaad! moment. Now, of course, I tell it to my grandchildren and expect them to be amused. What goes around… Sorry Dad, I get it now.

Well we had Valentine’s Day and the FB swap was to use pink/red and/or purple and heart themed patterns, so I did. At this point I had pretty much caught up on all my swaps and was sending out messages asking if anyone who should have had one was still waiting. So far, it seems to be OK.

I think I may have invented/deconstructed a pattern, what do you think?

I’m wondering if I’ve found a “new” pattern. I saw a railing in a park in Spain and this is how it turned out when I’d finished messing about with it.  It’s easy enough and, to my eyes, meets the Zentangle specifications:

  1. a tangle is abstract, non-objective (non-representational)
  2. a tangle is non-directional, it has no up or down orientation — there’s no “right side up”
  3. a tangle is usually an overall pattern that grows organically, rather than a single motif. Zentangle is about “the repetition of a stroke, not the repetition of a drawing.
  4. a tangle is at most 2 or 3 simple strokes — “Usually the number of elemental strokes needed are 3 or less. Often, you only need one or two. By ‘elemental strokes’ we mean a dot, a straight(-ish) line, a curve (like a parenthesis), a reverse curve (like an ‘S’), and an orb or circle.
  5. a tangle is simple enough to draw without using a pre-printed grid, pencil guidelines or an eraser. “It also has to be done without any underlying pencil structure or preplanned grid.” Inked grids or dots, however, are often part of a tangle.
  6. a tangle never uses rulers, stencils, or any other mechanical construction aids
  7. a tangle is elegant, unique
If any of you try it, let me see how you used it, won’t you?

Well I wouldn’t necessarily claim this is elegant or unique but I think it meets the other criteria. Anyway, I’ve given it a name – Wilf, after my Grandad, who originally taught me the songs mentioned above and I’ve done stepouts. If it already exists, my apologies to the originator.

I have to say, I’ve enjoyed using it, on its own or with other tangles and it takes well to auras too.

The park in question is in the middle of Benalmadena and, apart from an interesting cactus garden, a cafe and being a place for a pleasant walk, it has animals wandering about, apparently safe from predators.

On various occasions we have seen rabbits, pet type rabbits, not wild ones; cocks and hens and, this most recent time, a guinea pig. Can’t imagine that working in a UK park, can you?

 

 

 

While we were there most recently, we had really nice weather, especially for February, until the last day, when the Heavens opened and stayed open all day. And night.  We drove back to the airport in a monsoon and were not sorry to leave the car for the shelter of the airport.

I won a prize on a Facebook page and this lovely journal arrived the day after we got home. The pages are postcard size.

Our flight home was delayed due to extremely bad weather at home, which closed the airport. Now, in comparison to Alaska or Finland, this was not extreme weather.BUT, and this is an important but where UK weather is concerned, we do not have normally particularly bad winters, some worse than others, of course. We do not have particularly long winters either. We get rain and fog and a bit of snow here and there. We get frost and ice and high winds now and then. We don’t get much in the way of blizzards and temperatures lower than about minus 5. So when it does happen, we are not, and can’t expect to be, prepared.

Alice also included a Bijou tile and a renaissance tile for me to try.

We don’t do snow chains on cars. We don’t have to dig ourselves out. We don’t lose power or other mains services. (Yes, there are areas where this does not apply – the mountains of Scotland, Wales or the Penines – I’m talking in general terms. And where it can be expected, the people ARE prepared for it and cope very well. ) On those rare occasions that these things happen to the population in general, it is big news in the UK.

I painted the inside cover with acrylic paint and stuck in the card she sent as a keepsake.

So our airport was closed for several hours and we were stuck in Malaga airport not being kept informed by the airline about what, if anything, was happening. Fortunately, or not, depending on your point of view, we have a friend who works at the UK airport in question and we phoned him. He confirmed that it was closed, might be up and running by lunchtime and our plane might be able to come and collect us later.  The Jet2 rep was still telling us there was a slight delay and wouldn’t even confirm that the airport was closed. What did they expect? That we would run amok crying for home?

So we sat about and grumbled. And drank tea. And grumbled some more.  And then I hear comments, from other Brits, like –

“Why have they had to close? It’s only a bit of snow. How do they think Moscow manages? It wouldn’t happen in America.”

So I took my courage in both hands and did the first page. I used the Bijou tile and wrote the word ONE to remind myself that this is the first, hopefully, of many.

Oh dearie, dearie me. What wallies some people are. Moscow manages because they are prepared for these conditions in Moscow, it happens every year. And they DO close airports in America, we just don’r hear about it. “It’s only a bit of snow…” Fancy landing a bloody 747 on it, do you? Like the idea of hurtling towards the perimeter fence at 200 mph, do you?

Alright, I’ll stop ranting now. you will be relieved to know that I didn’t say any of this at the time to the walking dead around me. I just sat and did my crochet with my lips tightly pursed.

We eventually took off five hours late, landed safely if a little tense back in the UK and dug our car out of the car park to drive home. I haven’t been out since and I don’t intend to until the pavements are safe for old ladies like me to walk on.

So the Diva Challenge is due, wonder what it will be this time. I think I’m catching up with the Challenges too, although I haven’t posted them all.

And it’s more hearts.

So this is the last week of February – and the last week of my heart shaped string theme… This week’s challenge is to create a zendala using a heart string.

I was a bit fed up of pink, so I went for blue/green/purple, which turned out OK if not brilliant.

I stuck with favourite patterns, Flux, Betweed and Luv A. 

And that’ll do for now. I’m off to crochet an octopus. See you soon and, until I do, be good, world, ish.

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.

Anyway:

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.