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Has it been a good year?

Well, I have to say that my year has been pretty good!  We came back from Abu Dhabi and settled back into our life here in Spain.  Mike has got on with putting the finishing touches to the house and land. We have a pool! The landscaping is coming along slowly but surely.  And we’re decorating the house to our liking and comfort.

As planned, I have gone freelance. Originally, I thought I would do proofreading and did the necessary training. ELT (English language teaching) was to be my USP (Unique Selling Proposition/Point).  However, I’ve found that my experience in ELT has equipped me well to become an editor, both content and copy, within the ELT publishing industry. Therefore, most of my projects thus far have been editing.  And I love it!  I already have projects lined up for the new year. So professionally, life is good!

Winter has descended on the mountain but, as usual, this brings great variety in the weather. This morning, for example, we are sitting in cold grey wet cloud:

Winter cloud

Winter cloud

Sitting in the clouds...

Sitting in the clouds…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s feeling very Christmassy!

However, three days ago, we had a pre-Christmas trip to the coast for fish and chips, and the weather was gorgeous!

 

Yacht, anyone?

Yacht, anyone?

The Marina, Garrucha

The Marina, Garrucha

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had a browse around Garrucha market…

Garrucha market

Garrucha market

Last minute Christmas shopping!

Last minute Christmas shopping!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then headed along the coast road to Mojacar, where we had fish and chips at the Irish Rover.  I know, not very Spanish! Then we had a stroll along the promenade…

 

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As you can see, it was very quiet. It’s the winter season – only residents around.  The perfect time to visit!

So, who knows what the weather will be like on Christmas day? But, you know what? I don’t mind at all! I’ll be with friends and family, and yes, that does include our dogs!

Wherever you are this Christmas, we wish you the happiest of times and a hopeful, healthy and inspiring 2015!

From our little corner of the mountains…

 

 

©Natalie Murray, 2014. Copying strictly prohibited. Extracts and links may be used only with full and clear credit given to Natalie Murray/English in Andalucia with appropriate links to the source material.

What’s new?

Crikey!  The last couple of months have been a bit busy, hence the lack of posts.

I’m pleased to say that I passed the proofreading course with flying colours! So, if you need anything proofreading, anything at all, get in touch to see what I can do for you. I have also been content editing on a project for an international English language teaching organization whilst continuing to develop resources for an online teaching website.

I’ve always thrived under pressure. So this is me in my element!

At the beginning of October, our area of Spain experienced a ‘gota fria’ (literal translation: a cold drop) which is violently wet stormy conditions often with hail.  Due to our elevation, whilst we experienced the wind, rain and hail, it wasn’t, fortunately, particularly destructive. Other, more coastal areas, were not so lucky. One Facebook feed showed a whole swimming pool floating down the street of a local town! Over the last few days though, the sun has reappeared and, hopefully, will stay for more than awhile.

 

Mountain Vista

 

 

©Natalie Murray, 2014. Copying strictly prohibited. Extracts and links may be used only with full and clear credit given to Natalie Murray/English in Andalucia with appropriate links to the source material.

With September Comes the Almond Harvest

It’s almond harvesting time here in Almeria.  Apparently, the harvest usually starts around the second week of September, but this year, due to very low rainfall, the harvest started early, in August.  Our local ironmonger told me this.  Most of Spain closes down in August.  It’s far too hot to do much, so most people take their annual leave.  Anyway, said ironmonger took his holiday the last two weeks of August but found that he was constantly harrassed by phone calls from farmers needing their harvesting tractors repairing.

The two main ways of harvesting here are either by bashing the trees with sticks until the almonds fall onto a waiting net, tarpaulin, etc. or, attached to a tractor is a machine which looks like a large upside down umbrella. This machine vibrates, again shaking the almonds from the trees and they collect inside the ‘umbrella’.

 

Unfortunately this tractor was filling up not actually in the fields harvesting, but you get the idea about the umbrella thingy!

Unfortunately this tractor was filling up not actually in the fields harvesting, but you get the idea about the umbrella thingy!

 

 

 

 

The upside down umbrella!

The upside down umbrella!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I visit the local market here every Friday for our fruit and veg, I always buy almonds as well.  They come in various ‘flavours’!  Our favourites are the peeled and salted, and the honey roast.  They’re great for snacking on and whipping out when we have unexpected visitors.  We also crush them and add them to savoury dishes, often of the curried variety.  Well, the hubby does, as he does most of the cooking around here!

So, August was a tad warm, and, as I said, Spain slows down a bit and we did too.  However, I did manage to complete the last assignment of the proofreading course. Yay! I’m just waiting now for the results.  I’m hopeful.  I did well in the previous assignments.  This was, though, the hardest of all.  But if I don’t believe in me, who will?

 

It’s also ‘vendimia’ (grape harvest) time in many parts of Spain.  We used to live in the north of Spain, Burgos region, and wine is very big there.  In fact, our favourite wine is from that region; it’s delicious!  Check it out here.

Although there are vineyards in Almeria, there are none in close proximity to us.  However, some of our neighbours have a few grapevines!  Not enough to run a bodega, but perhaps they can manage a couple of bottles for home consumption!  Anyway, out on the trail recently, we witnessed the marriage of an olive tree and a vine!

 

Intertwined!

Intertwined!

 

 

Luscious grapes!

Luscious grapes!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sweet 'n' Sour?

Sweet ‘n’ Sour?

 

 

And this very morning, when I took the dogs out, I revelled in the tranquility.  It was absolutely quiet, apart from the odd tweeting of a bird.  The kind of quiet that rings in your ears. And the dogs enjoyed the sun on their backs and sniffing around in the undergrowth.

 

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©Natalie Murray, 2014. Copying strictly prohibited. Extracts and links may be used only with full and clear credit given to Natalie Murray/English in Andalucia with appropriate links to the source material.

Dedication

In the heat of summer here in Almeria, which has a hot arid climate and averages between 30° and 40° during these summer months, it can be difficult to find the motivation needed to work for oneself. It’s especially hard when our three dogs, after their morning walk, spend the whole day lying around the house avoiding the incessant heat and blinding light outdoors. Why can’t I do what they do?

 

Sleeping baby... shhhhhh

Sleeping baby… shhhhhh

 

 

Leader of the pack...sleeps with one eye open!

Leader of the pack…sleeps with one eye open!

 

 

Jilly dreams of stones... Why? Because she spends her waking hours collecting them!

Jilly dreams of stones… Why? Because she spends her waking hours collecting them!

 

 

Why can’t I just spend the day by the pool?

 

Because the landscaping isn’t finished; that’s why not!  And someone has to pay for it!

 

Seriously, though, I LOVE my new occupation!  I have all the dedication and motivation that I need.  Being able to work how I want, when I want,  is invigorating.  If you’ve ever thought about working for yourself, think no longer. Do it!  Now!

Currently, I am working as an ELT (English Language Teaching) Resource Developer.  It’s something that I’ve done as part of my teaching for the last 14 years, but now I have the time to really get my teeth into it.  I’ve always enjoyed the creative aspect of teaching; thinking of innovative ways of developing and using resources in the classroom, of creating a more exciting and enjoyable learning environment for the students, of designing assessments tailored to a particular set of students.  So now I get to build on that without worrying about getting to the classroom on time!

Of course, it’s still early days for me, and too soon to tell whether this lifestyle is sustainable. You can be sure, though, that I will give it my all.

Back in March, I told you about a proofreading course which I was completing.  After struggling a little with widows and orphans, I am finally on the last unit of the course.  Up to now, I have enjoyed it immensely and, although I have the final and toughest assignment to get through, I believe (hope?) that I will successfully complete the course and go on to enjoy a new dimension to my business.

So, dedication?  At the moment, I have it by the truck load: even in the heat of August!  Who knows,  maybe next August I’ll have a big enough client list that I can take the month off!  Here’s hoping!

Enjoy your summer!

 

 

 

 

 

©Natalie Murray, 2014. Copying strictly prohibited. Extracts and links may be used only with full and clear credit given to Natalie Murray/English in Andalucia with appropriate links to the source material.

What do you know about widows and orphans?

If you are in the publishing industry, there is probably a lot you can tell me about widows and orphans!  If you are not, then you are forgiven for being mistaken about the widows and orphans to which I am referring!

I am now a good way through the proofreading course which I started a few months back.  I am still thoroughly enjoying it, but, instead of getting easier the more knowledge I gain, it’s getting harder!  There is more and more to remember; new symbols, new terms, some of whose descriptions appear to me to be in another language at times.  I get frustrated with myself, frequently, when checking the answers to exercises, and realizing that I haven’t spotted, what would appear to be, an obvious error!  But then I remind myself that the exercises are part of the training, and that I should learn from them…and not repeat my errors.  If it was easy, it wouldn’t be worth doing, would it?

Neck pain is proving to be a side effect, too.  I am sitting properly, at a desk, on an office chair, and I’m aware that I should be conscious of my posture.  However, constantly looking down at the course texts results in neck pain.  Is it my age or is it just that it’s a different posture for me?  Hopefully, it’s the latter and my neck muscles will adjust.  Otherwise, it will be hell when I launch my freelance proofreading business and I’m inundated with work.  Which, of course, I will be!

Hmmm…after a while, my eyes go a bit squinty, too!

Image

As I said, I am really enjoying the course and I’m much more knowledgeable on the subject now than I was six months ago.  I know I still have a lot to learn, and that I will continue to learn on the job, but that’s the way it should be.  We should never stop learning.

What have you learnt today?  There must be something!  Leave a comment and let me know.

 

 

©Natalie Murray, 2014. Copying strictly prohibited. Extracts and links may be used only with full and clear credit given to Natalie Murray/English in Andalucia with appropriate links to the source material.