Friday, 27 March 2009

Yellow Bee Orchids.

We were out again today repairing stone walls on the path to the main water deposit, when I saw some more orchids, this time Yellow Bee Orchids. We have seen them on our land too, but never by the side of the footpath. Must be about 5 or 6 growing, hope no-one walks on them.

Sun continues to shine, 21 at 4pm today (that's the thermometer on the terrace in the shade) much warmer when you are working in the sun!

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Shopping locally.

I went into town today to buy some cement, replace empty gas bottles and buy a few other things. The cement was 16.80.......I had 16.70 in change or else a 50 euro doesn't matter said Paquita, give me the 10 cents next time you're in. Went to the tabac, same thing, nearly the correct change or else a the rest next time. And then to the gas shop. I took in 2 empty bottles of butano (used for the cooker and the shower) swopped for 2 full bottles and went in to pay. The lady there said that on the 1st of April the price was dropping from 13 to 10 euros so did I want to wait till then before changing! Well of course I did, as we don't need the bottles today as we always have more spares than we need. I left the empties with her and will collect the full ones sometime after the price drop. And 6 euros is better in my pocket than the gas companies :)

Paying the extra 10 cents or so whenever you are in town next has happened quite often here, I still find it very trusting/amazing. Having said that, when we order stuff from Elena at the local builders merchant, her husband Juan delivers the same day and they are really surprised if you want to pay there and then. Their attitude is pay when the job is done, even if it's a long term project!

Do local businesses have this same outlook elsewhere? Not many of these places take credit or debit cards, most of them only do cash and are only accountable to themselves - this must make a difference I think. No head- office watching over every thing!!

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Dutchman's pipe.

Monday we went to finish cutting down the alder, we only had the main trunk to go but it still took till late lunchtime to log, barrow, load the car and get it here. Then we cleared up the debris - twigs and leaves on the ground, in the acequia etc. While we were doing this I saw a flower that I thought I'd seen a picture of but wasn't sure of it's name, took pictures anyway and then looked in the wildflowers of Spain book when we got home. It turns out to be a Dutchman's pipe, don't know where else it grows in the world, maybe it's really common!!!! Anyway we collected some seed pods too - they are really big and fat, far bigger than the flower and open up like a cup shape - we're hoping to grow some up fences around the olive tree in the front garden.

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Mothers Day update

As yet another busy week draws to a close, I looked in the diary to see where we'd been and what we'd done each day. I keep 2 diaries, 1 as a day to day record of life here - just brief notes on what, where and when and the other is a record of what we plant and where. I was given a very nice leather bound journal when I left work to come here (thanks Denise!) and am about three-quarters of the way through it with little diagrams of terraces, fruit trees and such like. The other day to day diary is - luckily for me - always sent for a Christmas pressie. As it's an English diary it has dates in such as Mothering Sunday! Dia del Madre in Spain is a set date and is on our Spanish calendar downstairs. That one comes from the bank and has every fiesta date on it, and there's a lot! Every day has it's own saint, every village has it's own saint/fiesta day and then there's the Andalucia holidays, the Spanish holidays.............!

So, this week. Monday was the final olive mill trip. A grand total of 2094 kgs for our neighbour whose harvest we've done for a 2/3 share and 495 kgs of our own. Ours we are having as oil - about 60 litres - and our share of his as cash. Later that day I went and emptied the mature compost heap and bagged it up ready to use as and when needed. It had made 3 x 40 litre sacks and 3 x 20 litre sacks over the year. I'm sure that won't be enough though!

Tuesday J woke up with a stiff neck, unable to look up or down, left or right. I reckon it was due to the snoring, he says he snored because he was sleeping awkwardly hence the bad neck. Whichever, he was chief cook for the day while I went to dig over previously dug veg beds which had got weedy, (although very colourful with lots of poppies) and sowed rows of brussels, radishes, carrots, beetroot, swedes, parsnips, leeks, more peas and a tub of coriander.

Wednesday we were back on the path that goes to our main water deposit, this we have been asked to tidy up, repair the dry-stone walls and remove any dead or over-hanging olive trees and take away - yes, more fire wood! We moved stones from walls that had collapsed and stacked on the edge of the path, dug out the soil from behind and generally got the path accessible.

Thursday the first section of wall had more layers of stones built back up and on Friday we made a bridge over a water channel so we have better access with the wheelbarrow to the rest of the path.

Saturday morning we started to cut and log an alder that had collapsed, split at the base and come to rest in an olive tree! We took 8 very full barrow loads to the car - each way 200 metres - the seats of the car are permanently flat nowadays and that lot just about filled it. Monday we will do the main trunk and I think we'll need to take the trailer to get it all back here. Either that or do more than 1 trip.

And today was our watering day again, filled storage tanks, watered everything, cleaned out next doors water deposit - gone very green with frogs in and rotting leaves, not pleasant especially as the weather is warm and it'll start to smell soon :( Not sure why they keep any water in it as they have never use it for watering. The whole point of having a deposit is to use it in-between your watering days and then refill it. When I say "they" haven't been here, it's only Miguel the son-in-law that comes anyway and although he watered some of the olives last year from June till August, never came to pick them.

More signs, or rather sounds, of Spring today. The Hoopoos are back and calling to each other during the day and the Scops owls are doing the same thing at night. I saw a hoopoo this morning but we've never seen the Scops owls. For some reason they seem to drive Monty mad and he goes out barking whenever they are hooting.

Sunday, 15 March 2009


One afternoon last week, I went down to pick some lemons but found the bay tree had grown so much the steps were virtually impassable. So I went back with secateurs and loppers and came home with about a wheel- barrow of prunings - plus the lemons that I went for in the first place. The bay branches have been outside drying and this evening we took all the leaves off and as the sun went down, put the twiggy remains onto the barbeque and burnt them.

Just recently, each time I go to the compost, I have been stung by the nettles that grow around it. They are funny (funny peculiar not funny ha-ha) because they don't really sting, certainly not enough for a dock leaf but enough to annoy. I had an idea you could make liquid fertiliser from nettles so have been pulling them out and putting them into a water store. It is starting to smell rather a lot so checked on-line and that's what is supposed to happen. Maybe we could start a nettle patch on some spare land and brew more of the stuff!

Friends came this morning and filled the trailer and their 4x4 car twice with our olive trimmings for their 17 goats and as a thankyou, gave us a dozen fresh eggs from their chickens which was nice of them and totally unexpected.

Another by- product of the olive pruning, is twiggy bits which are excellent as pea supports - and they also keep the birds away from the new shoots.

So more things for free, which is rather satisfying.

Last trip to the mill in the morning, we have enough other stuff to do without worrying about getting every last olive left on a tree. Maybe next year if the price is better!

Friday, 13 March 2009

Another week gone by...

Monday and Tuesday, yes, more olives! 240 kgs but no pruning just harvesting although they were on very weedy land, trying to get the nets down under trees where there were lots of nettles and stuff. Wednesday, Thursday and today we have been tackling large, overgrown trees which had to be cut back to the original trunk, the olives were way out from the tree and unreachable, even with a 3 metre pole. But we have 4 more sacks of olives and more fire wood.

Went to take the recycling stuff this morning, bottles, cartons and cans, and collected the mail on the way. Had to go to the post office to sign for a letter, turned out to be the rates bill. Normally 9 euros, but this year its gone up to 18!!!! (yes that's for the year, but we don't pay for our water - we have a spring - or have a rubbish collection here.) Maybe we' re paying more because the mayor allegedly spent 10,0000 euros on a survey to turn our track into a 2-lane road without first checking who owns the track.......we do. i.e the owners of the land between Yegen and Yator and he didn't find this out before hand!

The weather.......absolutely wonderful. 13 degrees at 8 this morning and we had breakfast outside, 19.9 at 3.30 this afternoon.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

First and last

The first of this years potato crop were dug up yesterday, enough ready for 4 servings with mint and butter :) The first house martins are swooping around at sunset catching insects, the first little blue-tailed lizards darting around outside (they are about 10cm long with lovely bright tails)

- and the last lot of parsnips lifted from the ground yesterday.

Wednesday we finished Mondays tree, Thursday was extremely windy and we stayed indoors cooking for the freezer/ready meals, Friday we went to Ugijar to get some shopping, Saturday we had glorious sunshine and blue skies and did general outside stuff...pruned the palm trees, weeded the onions, house cleaned and put the carpets outside to air, planted more potatoes and 75 more onions and after lunch we went to visit a neighbour who is here for a couple of weeks from his home in Valencia. 3 hours later, after tasting his wine, we made it back here. We have 3 more terraces of olives to do that we didn't know about so that's next weeks work!! Plus, 5 more trees to cut, log and, that's a lot of firewood.

Today was our watering day again, so we washed the pool walls and rinsed it out, watered all the vegetables (the 5th lot of peas are up, as are the spring onions and radishes) picked baby spinach and rocket for a salad, and later on relaxed with a glass of wine enjoying the sun.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Going, going, gone.

No, not John, the tree luckily!

This olive tree belongs to one of our Spanish neighbours, it is next to the GR7 footpath which goes from here to El Golco (it runs from Portugal to Greece and people often walk sections of it as part of a walking holiday) Over the years 1 section of the tree has grown out over the path and is now about 8 metres tall - or should that be long? - and the weight of the top growth is in danger of pulling the tree over. We were asked to cut it down, log it and move it - for a share of the firewood of course!! J cut, I trimmed with the loppers, he logged, we took about 15 barrowloads to the closest point that we can get the car and did 4 round trips to off load at home. We still have the top branches to clear up and trim for fire-starter sticks - another day as it's raining today :(