Sunday, 28 December 2008

Christmas chat

I mentioned before that we bought a large leg of pork for Xmas dinner - it weighed in at 6.3kg / 14lbs and was absolutely delicious. I have been slicing, dicing, mincing and soup-making today and after serving 3 for Xmas, 2 servings cold with pickles etc, we have enough for 5 more meals for J and me and 6 servings of soup. Economical or what! All that is left are 600g of bones and I know a small black dog who will enjoy them.

We had glorious weather over Xmas apart from the day itself when it was cloudy and cooler. Yesterday we took Mat back up to the airport. Had an early start at 8am, frost on the car, only 1 degree when we left here but a beautiful sunrise helped compensate. So we arrived at Granada, looked at the departures board, no flight listed until 1.30 whereas a certain person had said 11.30.......checked his paperwork again and realised he'd mis-read the time! So an early start for nothing. Not enough spare time to go anywhere apart from a leisurely coffee and pastry with the newspapers.

Woke to drizzle this morning which has now cleared away but no sun as yet. The fires are alight, the house is warm and cosy, it could be the day for mulled wine I think as we haven't had any yet.

More to come after New Years Eve so hope you all have a good one.

Saturday, 20 December 2008

Latest news

Forgot to put up the picture of the pea patch... there is also garlic, rocket and winter spinach in here but you'd have to look very closely to see any of it! The spinach started off wonderfully but seems to have come to a grinding halt and hasn't done anything for ages. Maybe it's sulking because of the weather.

Thinking of weather, it has suddenly turned absolutely glorious, photo of Mat to show how warm it is, taken today after lunch. 15 in the shade, don't know how hot out in the sun.

We went up to Granada yesterday to pick him up, flight delayed for 1½ hours due to people who had checked in but not arrived on the plane.....! Had a nice surprise when we filled the car up, petrol down from 1.26 to 83 cents.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

sunrise over Gador

We were out for a walk just before 8am today and the sun was just coming up from behind Sierra Gador, lovely colour skies again. The moon was still up over Mecina Bombaron, the street lights were on, the snow was shining on the hillsides above, it looked very Christmassy over there.

We had snow again on Sunday evening but not much this time, it's all gone now but the ground was icy yesterday morning. So far all the veg seem to be ok, the geraniums are looking a little bronzed but need cutting down anyway so maybe the top growth will protect the base.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

sourdough bread

I forgot to mention this yesterday, but I have started a sourdough "plant" so once established never need to buy yeast again. I had sourdough bread mentioned twice to me in one day by different people so decided to google it and have started a batch. It seems incredibly simple - 1 cup bread flour plus 1 cup warm water, put in a glass container (so you can see its bubbles) keep in a warm place and every day throw away half and add half cup of flour and half cup of water to feed it. After a few days, maybe a week, it is all bubbly, a froth on top and its done. That is your starter to keep in the fridge and only feed weekly. When you want to make bread, you save a cupful back for the future, and add flour, olive oil, sugar and salt to make your dough. We are still at the stage of growing the starter, feeding it daily and keeping it warm. Another day or so should see it ready to use. Anyone interested, this is the recipe I'm using. There were lots to choose from but this seemed the clearest.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

5 days have gone by..

I do sometimes wonder where the time goes, I have been reminded that nothing has been written this week and thinking back it has been a week of doing normal things.

Tuesday - washing and ironing, sorting out Xmas pressies ready for posting and household jobs.
Wednesday - I had a big bread baking session in the morning, 2 white loaves, 2 brown and 8 large rolls. It took longer than usual for the dough to rise, although it is sunny during the day the house is not getting as warm, the sun doesn't have as much strength to it at this time of year.
Thursday - I have a feeling we were cutting firewood up again, we have a lot that is too big for the upstairs fire and so it's better cut up so can be used in either fire.
Yesterday we went to post Xmas things, collect mail, buy the enormous leg of pork for Xmas dinner and came home via Yegen to pay Elena at the local builders yard for a delivery of sand that we had at the end of May! She always says it doesn't matter when she's paid and sits us down for a chat to ask about how things are, what's happening over xmas etc.

So quite an uneventful week, of course there is walking with Monty 3 times a day, checking the vegetables are ok, I've put in some garlic this week, taking stuff to the compost (how much woodash can I put in there? I'm layering with kitchen waste and leaves - is that ok?) Answers on a postcard please! Plus housework, cooking etc and so the days go by.

Next week the diary is empty until Mat comes on Friday for Xmas week, but we have no mince pies yet or decorations up, so I think we will be sorting those things out.

Monday, 8 December 2008

No photos today

We woke up this morning to the sound of rain dripping off the terrace roof and when we looked out of the window, there wasn't much to see. The clouds were down so low that visibility was only a few hundred meters - or yards - depending on your age:) At times we were looking down on the clouds, which is really pretty as the light/sun shines brightly on them and the Contraviesa hills are then above the clouds, which is a bit like the view from a plane.

It was a very quiet day: Saturday and today were holidays, Dia de la Constitution and Inmaculada Concepcion, and there are usually people out walking, the men go hunting for partridges and we hear guns and dogs, but today has been very different. It's cleared up now and we had a lovely sunset so hopefully tomorrow will be back to normal....

Friday, 5 December 2008

sunset over Sierra Gador

Most of our snow has gone, just a few pockets in isolated places, but Sierra Gador still has snow on its top. It's 2000 metres high which probably explains why it's still white!

The broad beans, potatoes and parsnips have now reappeared from under their snowy blanket, none the worse for it although the first planting of beans - being the tallest - are a bit bent but not broken. Unlike the geranium "bushes" - they were very large and now are slightly pancake like! I have taken about 50 cuttings from the broken bits and have left the rest to (hopefully) bounce back up on their own. 2 of the oleanders have also lost branches which are now planted, not sure what they will do, if anything. Time will tell.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

So this is global warming!

Woke up Sunday morning to 4" of snow, no power till lunchtime, no internet or phone till this morning and biting cold winds coming down from the Sierra Nevada. We've had 2 olive branches collapse under the weight of the snow, and there is an almond tree down over the footpath on the way to the spring and 4 olive trees have lost large branches near there as well. The broad beans, parsnips and potatoes are still buried under the snow and most of the geraniums which were huge, are now very flat! Not all broken, just squashed so there is some hope for them.

The ski slopes of Sierra Nevada opened a week early this year on the 15th November because there is so much snow around!

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

seen the first snow!

About 2 hours after our walk, it started to drizzle, then rain, then there was thunder and a bit of lightning a long way down south, and when the clouds lifted we saw the first snow over the Contraviesa and the hills above Murtas.

fruit and flowers

Went out this afternoon for our usual walk and noticed that the nispero (medlar) trees were in flower. They have a very strong heady scent and are very attractive to bees and the trees hum for weeks on end as the flowers last so long.

This must be the smallest olive tree around here - about a year or so in the ground - but it has 2 really big olives!

Friday, 21 November 2008

autumn chores

this has been a week of tidying up, repairing a wobbly table top, straightening a chair with crooked legs, weeding, moving firewood from the log store up onto the terrace to be handier for the woodburners, raking leaves and putting into the compost - every day - and finally finishing the last raised bed ready for seeds.

yesterday was quite cool for the time of year and we did begin to wonder if winter was coming early, we had a max. temperature of 12 (shade temp) but not much sun either but today dawned with clear blue skies and a high of 17 (shade) - so hot in the sunshine that i was in summer clothes this afternoon. But again, at sunset it's as if the heating has gone off and it's back to winter wear and woodburners!

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

look at this!

had totally clear skies today, but just before sunset it went hazy and then more cloud came down from the sierras and as the sun set the sky got more and more colourful and this was the result.

Monday, 17 November 2008

where does the time go?

its been a week since I looked at this, I know the sun is shining and there are things to do outside, but we are indoors from about 6pm or so every evening. Once the sun sets it's as if someone has turned off the heating and we go indoors and light the wood burner in the lounge.

Went out for a walk this afternoon with Monty as normal but took the camera too, it makes me look around more, see what has changed, it's all too easy to take this landscape for granted! Here are a few of the pics I took...pomegranates on a tree, our spring and the deposito (for storing the water for the land) and an orange grove.

Monday, 10 November 2008

the robin

this is all new to me so trying to get 2 photos in 1 blog doesn't seem to work! maybe it will become clearer over time so meanwhile here are the robin pictures!


we have been visited recently by a wagtail and even more recently by our robin - when I say our robin it's because one or maybe a pair come every year - so we assume it's the same ones again. The wagtail certainly isn't shy, he potters along the edge of the pool, catching insects that are around, the robin has been much more shy, hiding in the trimmings of the olive treee.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

olives and roads

Picked the first black olives yesterday, split, rinsed, rinsed again and then soaked, and then put in brine. The brine will need changing every day to start with. These are lovely big fat olives, about the size of a grape, looking forward to eating them....eventually!

This afternoon we dug a new water channel down the side of the road - from our house down to the first bend - to take the rain water away from the road, instead of going across the road and over the edge, possibly causing damage.

Sun is shining, well it was earlier, the moon is up now!

Monday, 3 November 2008

autumn rain

it's now the beginning of November and we have had our quota of autumn rains. 48 hours of steady drizzle which is good for the land and the olive trees and fortunately hasn't had too bad an effect on the pista (track) from here down to Yator. This time last year the rain was very heavy in very short bursts and washed away a section about 2m x 2m x 2m deep!! It took a JCB half a day to fill it in and repair it. There is a small amount of snow on Sierra Gador which is about 2000m high.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

this one's for Denise...

When we said we had bought a place with land, my friend Denise asked "when are you getting chickens?" "Oh no" said I, "we don't want animals, things to tie us down, just to grow some veg, harvest the olives for our own oil and generally enjoy life." Denise wasn't the only one to ask when the chickens were coming and it seems now the time is very near.

John and Lior spent Monday widening a terrace - this involved moving more rocks than soil and as they were working in full sun all day, it meant a beer break at 4pm (I think that was the excuse)

Saturday, 25 October 2008

fruit terrace

The other end of the same terrace with 2 apple trees, 1 peach and a very odd looking lemon. Definitely struggling to look like it should, maybe we should cut it down!

Friday, 24 October 2008

in the pool

No, not us, we're not that crazy. Just Lior at the end of a long day digging and then chopping fire wood for the winter. I think maybe the water was a little cooler than he was expecting, even though the thermometer said it was 22 in there.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Working on the top terrace

Our first wwoofer that's ever arrived, and John hard at work clearing the top terrace of tufty grass and weeds before digging and digging and digging!