Sunday, 29 September 2013

Kindness from SIBOL.

I think kindness means a plethora of things. It means so many different things to different people.I have just stopped typing to think about it.

Kindness to me is not only an act,it's a state or an emotion. People who have showed me kindness have not necessarily done anything big,spent any money or expect to be thanked.

Soon after my mum died a lady I knew parked next to me in a car park. She did not pretend she had not seen me. She did not take ages getting out of her car to avoid having to speak to me. She just gently got out of her car walked towards me and gave me the gentlest hug and said four simple words " I am so sorry" No add ons about my Mum being "a good age, at peace now after her illness" or anything irrelevant to me at that time. And then she just as quietly left me alone.

I can still cry now remembering that kindness and understanding. Just at that time I was angry at losing my Mum. That horrible part of grief where it is impossible to see another elderly lady shopping in Marks and Spencers. That time when platitudes ring hollow and you feel like striking the next person who says "well she had a good innings!!!!"

I bet that sweet lady would not dream that amongst all the kindnesses I have been shown in my life hers, that day, still shines like a beacon.

I have spoken about my love of Blogland and Internet friendships. And my goodness there are some good,kind people living within these cyber walls.

Last year I had to have a cataract operation. It was fine. Never worry about having one. In one year I went from having a tiny spot,the start of a cataract to being blind in one eye. And then within twenty minutes my world was polished and shiny again.The nearest I have ever come to witnessing a miracle.What wonderful things surgeons can do and this one looked about twelve!! Or the half of her I could see did!

Anyway,it got me thinking. I could read again,I could knit and crochet again, I could drive again, I could type again, I could thread a needle again, I could see again. And yet there are so many people all over the world who are not lucky enough to have that simple operation. I looked into the charity "Sightsavers"and then the idea grew and since then kindnesses have been heaped one on top of the other.

I contacted Sue at SIBOL which actually should stand for the epitome of kindness. SIBOL stands for Sunshine International Blankets Of Love. I have loved helping with this project which has been running for a while now. Wonderful knitted and crochet squares and whole blankets are donated by the kindest people and these are donated to the elderly living in homes. They are absolutely beautiful,often works of Art. And this is where I started to put my thoughts about Sightsavers into action. I asked Sue if a blanket could be compiled for such a wonderful cause. The theme was to be "All things Bright and Beautiful" or "What a wonderful World."

And now the most beautiful blanket is finished. Kind people gave donated squares.A kind person compiled the blanket turning it into a wonderful tribute to all the wonderful things we can see.It has now been placed for auction on EBay by Sue and already a kind and generous person has placed a bid. So just now my kindness pot is full and I am so glad that by spreading such kindness maybe other people will be able to have their little bit of the world polished again. I hope so.

Perhaps you would like to follow this beautiful blankets progress on EBay? Here is a link to it.


Friday, 27 September 2013

A trip to the beautiful Alpujarras.

The Alpujarras is one of the most beautiful areas in Spain. The most important geographical feature is the Sierra Nevada( literally 'Snowy Mountains') it forms the regions Northern Border.

You can not fail to be enchanted by the architecture of its villages. Whitewashed, and lying on the hillsides in the Poqueira Ravine.


Their streets are narrow and twisting,steep and designed for snowfalls and I was in seventh heaven just wandering around with my camera.



With magical features at every turn.




Roofs or "terraos" as they are known locally are flat,built with stone slabs laid horizontally,in turn covered with shards of slate to protect against rain.

Purposeful and whimsical.


I love doors and terraces everywhere and there are some beauties tucked away here. I wandered and wandered around the streets of Capileria. We were lucky enough to stay for 2 nights in this wonderful spot.





The chimneys are round and distinctive and are obviously used for a long time in the winters.

Of course as well as meandering and exploring we did want to walk. The views high on the hillsides were simply stunning and paths were edged by sweet chestnut trees,Spanish Oak and views to die for.





So we enjoyed the food. A cuisine which has preserved all the traditional ingredients of Arab Andalusian cooking and really does embrace age old traditions of air drying. But, of course there are also Tapas bars serving little plates with a modern twist.


And the Alpujarra's Arab past can be seen in its crafts.

And we were lucky enough to find ourselves in an Artisans shop where Anna still weaves cotton rugs which are sold all over Andalucia. She was so proud to show us her loom working and we were delighted to buy a wonderful cotton rug to add to our collection. They serve us well in our Spanish home and this one will be even more treasured now we have witnessed such a long standing tradition at first hand.

And just when you think everything has been perfect and nothing else could be the proverbial "cherry on the top" we saw a poster for Spanish Flamenco.

It was amazing with the loudest shouts,stamps and Spanish guitar music,an experience that will stay with me forever more.

Our trip was perfect,simply perfect.



Sunday, 22 September 2013

Terrazzo ...

I was feeling so sorry for myself and fed up with Blogsy earlier.

I had written a long post and then in a puff of letters and the odd click it disappeared.

When things go wrong I go really quiet. I don't stamp and shout,but I had made collages with Diptic etc,etc. so now a while on I will leave out the words and let the pictures do the talking.

Our back terrace in our little town house in Spain.
Some pictures of my favourite things.
By day.
And a new idea I have just added for warm sultry evenings.
Take a cheap table spoon and Yuri Geller it!
Bend the handle of the spoon to a 90 degree angle. Tie it on the tree with pretty ribbon and pop a tea light in the bowl of the spoon.
Light it up and there we have the prettiest little lights to end the day.


I am really struggling!

I am trying so hard to embrace new ways,new technology new posts.
I love my IPad. I love Instagram,Diptic all sorts but I am really struggling with using it for Blogging.
I have tried Blogger and Blogsy but find placing the photos so hard. I have just lost a whole post into the thinnest of air.
If anyone has any hints or tips I would be ever so grateful of a helping hand!!


Monday, 16 September 2013

Laying down the memories for William.

Anyone who has been following life here at Chalky's knows that we had to say " goodbye" to our dear son,dear daughter in law and the edible William last month.

Of course it was hard,too hard to write about but all we want is for them to be happy, live life to the full and make the most of every opportunity out there in this big,wide world of ours.

But, I want William to know how much we are thinking of him,how much we miss reading stories to him and all the other things in between.

The Internet makes this possible. We can still make up stories to share and this is the point where it all begins.

William's Stories! Written with love.




Saturday, 14 September 2013

Just a little way.

Our little village in Spain has a market every Friday. I have never taken my camera because I am always too busy enjoying it.

I never worry that we might not find a parking space. Just think positively and generally happy you will be.

Coffee first. Lovely little rituals. Then walk up to the market. A special person to greet. No common language but some genuine warmth and good feeling. My face lights up when I see a lovely lady who is always there and hers lights up when she sees us. Just the best start to our market wander.

I will take my camera soon, but today we looked,savoured and enjoyed. And an afternoon cooking was a pure pleasure.

Fresh ingredients,plentiful, colourful and tasty.

Olives stuffed with garlic. Olives steeped in paprika. So yummy.Just scooped with a slotted spoon and tumbled in.

Green beans and garlic.

Lots to cook fresh and tasty and some to squirrel away.

I have long believed baking to be an exact science. Cooking to be a creative journey and chutney making to be a delight of the senses.

I think that whatever you choose to put in your chutney is fine. It is the blend of spices which turns it into such a delight.

So I always weigh the proportions of fruit or veg to vinegar and sugar and then set it simmering for a long time.That makes me laugh to myself when I type something like that because actually I do always use the same amount of sugar and vinegar but I shove in as much fruit and veg as I can so that there are more jars to enjoy. As it begins to cook you can see if the amount of liquid will accept another apple or a few more tomatoes. An exact science it is not. Or not my chutneys anyway.

Today I had to call my chutney Market Chutney because the ingredients all came from the market,and into the preserving pan went :

Tomatoes,aubergines,courgette,onions,lots of garlic,nectarines,plums,pears,raisins.

And added to that lovely lot I add fresh ginger,fresh chilli,cumin,mustard seeds,coriander,garam marsala,salt and pepper.and some 4 spice mixture I bought in Morroco a while back. It smelt so good.

All cooked with 1 lb of brown sugar and 1/2 to 3/4 of a pint of vinegar. Here in Spain I use wine vinegar.

Cook until completely pulpy and when you run your spoon across the surface of the chutney the channel created stays fairly clear.

I do sterilise my ars by washing them thoroughly and then putting them in a airly hot oven for ten minutes. Fill whilst the jars are still hot and seal with a silicone circle and tight fitting lid.

I love the bottling and of course all good chutney makers store theirs for a good while so that it can mature. I must be a really bad one then because we tried ours with cheese this evening.

Of course it will improve with keeping but my goodness it tasted good and the bottles looked so pretty.

There is a recipe for one type of chutney on my side bar if you fancy making a few bottles to squirrel away now autumn days are on their way.


Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Enough about Me!

Well we arrived at our little Spanish house after a 2000 mile trip. It was lovely to just pull up and think "home!" Thank you so much for all your encouraging comments as we clocked up the miles. And welcome to my lovely new follower.

We have had our house for 10 years now and it really does feel like home too. Which is the biggest relief.Getting this retirement lark perfect takes a while.

We have already been out to a nearby market and stocked up on fruit and veg and had Roast Tapas for lunch.

Simple,tasty and very rustic. After the choice of Tapas in Barcelona it was lovely just to walk into our favourite little local bar and eat food we know and love. And for a portion of tapas and a glass of red for 1.50 Euro it is no wonder we love it here.

We also have lots of homey things to do this week. Cleaning,painting,rearranging and just settling.

So the memories of our travels will stay with us but we also love just being quiet and gentle.

I finished another project I have been working on for a while during the drive from Barcelona to Turre.

I had enough bright yarn over from the last Lappy I made so decided to revisit an old favourite. The mitred Granny Square. You can find a tutorial by using the search facility on my side bar.

I love the effect these mitred shapes create. Colours cascading. Very brightly in this case.

And a simple edging. Working 3 trebles,2chain,3 trebles in one space then a slip stitch in the next creates this lovely simple zig zag effect. A perfect counterbalance to the very zingy colours.

My little area in the car is like a crochet/knitting/ crafty control centre and I love it. I need a good few miles notice of a stop so that I can untangle myself. Find a safe place for my hook and scissors and of course finish the row!!!

As I was travelling I thought about my summer crafting. Lots of big projects. Lappycuddlyghans. Cosy blankets. Also some lovely new things,Mandalas. I loved working on those. And of course the name flags which I give to the new babies in the family.Oh! and sweet little sets for heads,toes and fingers!

All things I have loved making but very much things for me and my loved ones.

Thinking about things that I have made me realise I am so lucky. And with this in mind I thought it time to make some things for Charity again.

Sometimes I wonder if the things I make get to the right place and to the right people. I hope they do and that they truly make a difference to someone in need. But I try not to let these doubts worry me too much or else nothing would get done.

When I drop money into people's pots on the street I do not give it and then consider whether it is going to spent on things like cigarettes, drink or drugs. I know some of my money will end up in this way.I do sometime buy fruit and give that and ast night on the news there is a new initiative where food vouchers can be purchased and then given. That is being started in Exeter where there is a great need.

I don't feel right to judge,but I do feel right to give. Life is not easy. Not everyone can make the choices I am lucky enough to make, and for that I am thankful every day. I have watched someone very dear to me struggling with an addiction and listened to others saying its just a matter of making choices and " pulling yourself together" I know that is not always the case. Unless you walk in somebody else's footsteps perhaps you are not aware of how hard each step can be?

In our village in Spain there is a Charity organisation called the Dames. They raise a lot of money to help the local school,people struggling with illness,community projects. In fact where where is a problem they try to help.This has been vital of late with Spain having a period of deep recession.Some families do not have jobs and can not support themselves. A food bank has been set up and the Dames have been helping with that too.

Soon they are having their Annual Christmas Fayre so the Lappy is all rolled and is ready to go to help swell the proceeds a little.

I am going to make a selection of things for Operation Christmas Child. Janet is such an inspiration over at The Puppet Lady's blog. And I really do believe that every single child in the whole world deserves to feel cared for every day of the year but especially at Christmas.Janet knits puppets all year and works so hard as a co-ordinator for Operation Christmas Child in her area. Pop over and follow her wonderful puppets.

These bright and cheery purses take just a short while to make and a hankie or hair ribbon tucked inside each one will make a lovely gift.


This is a crochet rectangle folded and joined with some decorative stitches. There is also a pattern for a little bag on the sidebar of my blog.

Why is it s much easier to make things for girls?

Snakes to the rescue. I have some very dull yarn in my stash... Goodness knows why. But it is perfect for these snakes. These in turn make a perfect addition to any little boys pocket!!! There is a tutorial for those too!

Another charity project I love to support is the " Big Knit" Have a look here for all the details and thank you so much to Ladybird Diaries for reminding me the date for completed hats is getting close. Let your imagination run wild and 25p from the sale of every Innocent Smoothie bottle that is wearing a hat goes to Help The Aged.

My pile has patience with Pom poms is non existent but there are lots of other ways to finish these sweet little hats off. The twirl whirly topping reminded me of dreadlocks!


Una over at Great Balls of Wool knits for Greenfields and the dedication of the people who deliver all the wonderful gifts makes me feel really humble. So a few hats are going to be on my needles for this wonderful cause. I see this morning she is also knitting tiny hats for the Big Knit .


So that is my first forray back into sharing a little Chalky crafting.

Autumn is a good time to start collecting. A good time for making little piles. A good time for thinking of other people before the cold weather begins . If you have any other lovely ideas for sharing some love please let me know. The clocks change soon. More time for making!!!