Sunday, 25 August 2013

48 hours away

When the continuous and oppressive heat, the crowds of holidaymakers in the village, the loud noise/music of the two bars next to my flat that go on until the early morning every single night, and the mosquito bites... when all of this became too much I just had to get into the car for a short break - a three hours drive last week that allowed me to enjoy 48 hours of peace and quiet.

Like the Spanish I have learned to live like a mole, in the dark, with my shutters down the whole day. Lighting a lamp means more heat, so no embroidery in the last two months. Today the temperature dropped a little and the night breeze lasted until midday. I came out of the slumber...

Monday, 8 July 2013

slowly, slowly

Trying to cope with the heat has been hard. Last week the temperature reached 40ÂșC, after slowly going up the previous weeks. It is likely to stay there for several days more. Things are moving very slowly around here.

My embroidery too is advancing at this slow pace. When not working or cooling out in the river I may even manage a few stitches - only to stop soon after to scratch the many mosquito bites; and if I can then add a few more I'll have to get up after a short interval to get ice cubes for my swollen feet...

But I have made a little progress, though. I just hope I'll manage to keep embroidering, even if at this very slow pace, a few stitches per week...

Sunday, 16 June 2013

to the swimming pool I go...

Tomorrow there will be rain and the temperature will go down, but this week we had lovely hot weather here in the sierra, so I thought I should make the most of the beautiful day while the sunshine lasts. Walking 30 minutes from my flat towards the narrow end of the valley, with the Jalama to one's left,

one reaches the parking lot for the swimming pools.

There are two, a shallow and another very deep, which I prefer. To get there I walk past the drinking fountain, with its lovely icy cold water.

But I like to stay at the other end of the pool so that I can lie on the stones and hear the water.

The problem is that it is really hard to get in, as the water is PAINFULLY cold. One can go in little by little or just plunge, but to be honest it makes no difference as both ways are equally hard. 

But once in, after the initial cramps are gone, it is just so wonderful to swim and then, afterwards, lie on the hot stones to get warm,

listening to the birds, to the water, and being able to look at the beautiful peak in the background...

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

sneak peek

I've been busy. And after nearly two months of silence there's some catching up to do with my writing, which will probably not come that easily.

I'll try to work on that. But in the meantime I can't restrain my wish to share a view of my sampler so far. At the moment I'm trying to correct some uneven lines. When these are done I'll post 'proper' pictures.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

to cut a long story short (or, revised colour palette # 52)

Of course that number 52 above is just a random figure that came to my mind... But the truth is that during the last few weeks of not very good health I tried many different purples, oranges and greys in different combinations, and all of them had the same effect: a sorry sight that looked dull, sad and sallow. They looked elegant and cool when laid over the cloth, but once I tried out stitching it was a different story. The scrolls on the centre of my sampler were actually embroidered 3 times (!), and only by the third I found I had achieved what I had  foreseen with my mind's eye: a joyful match of purples and oranges offset by the neutral grey.

'Electric', 'neon-like', 'synthetic', 'artificial', 'man-made'... In my personal vocabulary all of these words have connotations that are not exactly positive, and all of these adjective apply to the colours I finally settled on. Yes, I only use chemically died floss, but never before had I used such bright shades! I'm curious to see what the effect will be once I introduce the purples on the sampler...

Choosing colours is still a very intuitive affair for me. But I wish it were otherwise so that I wouldn't waste so much time. But maybe in the future I should try out using the chosen colours on a small piece of the chosen fabric first. I wonder if this would work as a short-cut...

Monday, 4 February 2013

bad decision #1

After my usual visit to the farmer's market Saturday morning, I headed to a very bumpy road high up in the valley which has amazing views. I had to take some pictures to use in a 'for sale' sign. The more beautiful the background the better, for the very old and unattractive item I have to sell really needs some loaned beauty to add some glamour to it.
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The 'bad decision' of the post heading plus these pictures tell part of my story. This car is 18 years old, strong and sturdy, not a spot of rust, and perfect for some of the roads around here. But I think I've been badly misled. Three weeks into my ownership and it needed expensive repairs. Immediately after this there was the yearly inspection, which it didn't pass, and which required another batch of repairs - and very expensive ones. Well, now I feel it's not for me - even though I've grown fond of it.

Being misled and losing money aren't nice experiences. But the beauty of this place has healing powers which have made the upset much easier to bear. So when I wake up in the morning, open the shutters of my bedroom window and see this:

Or step out onto the balcony and gaze at the ever-changing appearance of the mighty peak:

Or face north to get a full view of the valley:

I can't help thinking that overall I'm fortunate to be able to be here living out my dream.

Yes, the times we live in are not meant to be easy, and there's no escaping it. So maybe experiencing this loss is a kind of compensation that I have to go through for just being in the place I want to be. The problem is that this bad decision wasn't the only one I made since I arrived here - but maybe I'll come back to this another day...

Saturday, 26 January 2013

a glorious day

Goodness, it's not even February yet and today the sierra woke up to a spring-like day. Sunshine, the breeze lovely and warm, and  when I was on my way to a neighbouring village to get my weekly supplies of organic veggies at the tiny farmer's market, the only source of organic stuff in the area, I was greeted by this:

Snow covered peaks! Since I arrived, two months ago, only once had I seen those peaks in the distance, which are higher than the ones around here, covered in snow - but today there was a lot more. It is a different mountain range, and I hope very much to visit some of the villages around there at some point.

On my way back I just had to photograph the very pretty village where I live. The mighty peak that towers above it had only a tiny bit of snow left.

Later in the day a friend wanted me to see a reservoir where thousands of cranes from northern Europe come to winter. The idea was to go around sunset because this is when they all return from their daily outings. I was glad to see how much closer we got to the spectacular mountains I had seen earlier.

He was a bit disappointed, though, as this year the 'thousands of birds' he had announced turned out to be only a few dozen. But I wasn't. It was such an impressive sight (which my very basic camera couldn't quite capture), and the sound all those large birds made as they approached the lake was really amazing.

It was good to spend so much time outdoors as the forecast for tomorrow is rain - which here at this altitude and with this enclosed situation always means much fog...

Thursday, 24 January 2013

new year, new home, new projects...

Sharon B., of Pin Tangle, resumed TAST (Take a Stitch Tuesday), announcing the first stitch for 2013 a couple of days ago. I tried joining at the beginning of 2012, but work and the resulting etcs. prevented me from following it to the end of the year. Her initiative of organizing the challenge and producing a comprehensive online stitch dictionary are both incredibly generous - it's obvious that a lot of time and effort were put into this.

Participating in TAST is exciting and challenging, and I hope that my new life will allow me to carry on with it now. There are so many well known stitches one wishes to try out but which for some reason always remain as mere illustrations in books. And even if my return to the challenge is not regular as I may skip some variations of the better known stitches, I still think this is a wonderful opportunity to enlarge one's stitching vocabulary, and to improve technique and design skills.

I hope then to do the stitches for 2013 that I consider important and useful, and at the same time work backwards to the beginning of 2012 so that I can catch up with many nice stitches I missed last year. Hopefully I'll finish my half done sampler from last year too.

As usual I spent a long time choosing the colour palette for fabric and threads. And this is the result:

If things go according to plan and I manage to keep up with the challenge, maybe the process of choosing colours will get quicker along the year. So, to stitching in 2013!

snowfall, day 2

Today it's much warmer, the sky is blue and the snow is nearly gone.

But yesterday when I woke up and felt the cold I was anxious to check if I would get more nice views from the balcony. It was good to see that there was even more snow, and that it covered most hills in the valley.

And when I think I used to find Britain too cold... Yes, temperatures are much lower than here, and yes, houses are mostly old and badly insulated. But they have central heating, and oh, how I miss that!

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

from the balcony of my new home

This was the first snowfall this winter, but only the highest peak in the sierra, at nearly 1.500 metres, got a decent snow covering. Those a couple of hundred metres bellow only got a thin dusting.

It's very cold around here, although not as bad as in the UK, and I had to have my wood burning stove lit most of the day. It was good to make use of its inbuilt oven to roast squash. Pity, though, that all my efforts to learn how to lay wood and light the fire were not enough to make the room warm...