Saturday, 28 November 2009

Fetching water

The water here in Montenegro comes direct from the Sierras, it's pure snow-melt, and people from Yator come up almost daily to fill bottles. They don't like the village water to drink as it's chlorinated and tastes odd. Usually a couple of women will walk up late afternoon, chattering as they come and carrying an empty 5 litre bottle or two. Occasionally they come by car and have a boot load of empties for filling but sometimes they come with a wheelbarrow. Not the most stable of things when empty, but even worse when laden with bottles of water. A few years ago, the 3 Lola's - there are many Lola's in Yator - lost control of their wheelbarrow on the bend just below our house and all we could hear was them laughing as they tried to get it upright. This morning at 8am as Monty, Pip and I were out for an early walk, we saw this gentleman coming for his weeks water. He was much more in control of his barrow than some people! He must have had about 10 five litre bottles wedged in the barrow and all tied together with string. If 1 bottle over-balanced, the whole lot would go over! And that's about 50kgs of weight, not easy to control down 2kms of track and Yator is 150m lower than us so there's not much flat along the way.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Don't know what to call this

This has no title because it's just a general update about things since the last post of 10 days ago...

..our neighbour Mariano came down from Valencia for a week and dropped in to say hello and did we know the track up from Yator to Montenegro is due to be concreted in the New Year? Depends on who you talk to as to which month it'll be started, anything from January, March or April with about 3 months work, so watch this space for photos etc.

..we pruned out lots of the new growth from the almond trees that overhang the side vegetable garden and the sheds, burnt the trimmings and other rubbish and dug the ash into the raised beds.

..took the Hyundai 4x4 to Motril for it's ITV (spanish MOT) but needed a new tyre - yes, another week, another car, another new tyre, but that's living up a track for you! Luis in Cadiar can't get another one for a couple of weeks so it really is an off road car till then!! Not all the tyres have to be the same make, but the front pair and back pair do, you can't have 3 + 1 so we had to re-order from Luis. When your car passes it's ITV you get a sticker for the windscreen, November 09 is pink, drive it past that date and it's obvious that it's illegal and the Guardia will stop and fine you.

..still picking and drying chillis, it's getting difficult to see out of the kitchen window now as they are all hanging outside, along with bunches of sage drying. It's a really good place to dry stuff as it gets the sun and breeze but is recessed so protected if it should rain. We've dried basil and mint there this year already, but the chillis are much more colourful.

..raking up about 2 large bucketfuls of leaves a day for the composts, that is if I get to them before the breeze blows them away! It's easy in the front garden as they all collect in the corner, but outside where we park the cars, the wind blows them all into the chumba (prickly pear cactus)

..and finally, the sun continues to shine. Although it is cooler first thing - 11 when we went out this morning but it was nearly 19 in the shade this afternoon. Definitely t-shirt weather and still no need for a fire at night. November 30th last year it snowed! 4 inches when we woke up that morning but unless there is a huge change in the next day or so, I don't think we'll see snow this month.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

What a sky!

The sun has just gone down and I managed to get these pictures, one looking at the sunset and the other looking up towards Mecina Bombaron, you can just see the streetlights of Mecina twinkling. Much more dramatic when there are clouds around. From the front garden, the clouds are also shining orange from the sun, but not as dramatic.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Friday 13th!

Supposed to be a date to be wary of, spoke to our neighbours today - Connie and Micha - a rat has got in through the original stone wall of their house and bitten holes in their main water pipe which runs through the wall into the house. They were having to repair it via the downstairs bathroom and as Connie said "we have a huge mess on the floor"

Since writing about the dragon hearts, we've eaten the fruit, dried some seeds and - hopefully - will be able to germinate them, dried the skins too and I've got them hung up in the kitchen for a splash of colour. About an hour later, we were outside and I said to John, just listen for a moment there's a roaring up in the Sierra - it sounds like a train in the background although our nearest train in either Almeria or Granada!! We know from experience that it is a big wind somewhere in the mountains and sometimes that wind comes here, but very suddenly. So if we hear the roar, just in case, we stack garden chairs, close shutters over the windows to keep dust out, close caravan windows (one snapped off once and although it is repaired, it's not so strong now) lay down the sun umbrellas, put away the rotary dryer.... and sure enough the wind came. It blew for about 3 hours or so - I still haven't found the towel from the outside sink which I forgot to peg down! It stripped lots of leaves from the grape vine and mulberry tree and we had lots of sweeping and raking to do the next day. The pool was covered in leaves too, some of which had sunk before we got to scoop them out. The day after I found a large triangular seat cushion belonging to Connie and Micha - our nearest neighbours - on the strawberry patch.

We've collected the car with it's nice new tyre, finished shelling all the almonds and put the shells into a bag ready for burning when winter comes, still picking and drying jalopeno chillis, a few aubergines left but that's most of the veg done with. The sprouts haven't sprouted yet, checked the seed packet and it says November through till January so there's time yet. We have taken some of the tops and eaten because... we have an infestation of caterpillars on the cabbages, so many that in 24 hours we went from a cabbage to just a stalk! But they don't swim well when they get put in water.

My idea of having a compost on each terrace is starting, I've begun 3 more this week mostly of leaves and the remains of vegetable plants from clearing patches of beans etc. They are just piles so far, two covered in black plastic and the other with old carpet, not pretty but functional. Anyway there's nobody that can see them!

If this all sounds bit disjointed, that's because I have next to me a very large glass of fig wine, vintage August '09 but wow, does it taste good! Lovely dark rose colour, beautifully clear and so much fruity flavour and kick! Hope everything else we made is as good. Nearly time to watch tv, don't watch much but HIGNFY is a favourite. Just time to top up my glass:)

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Dragon's hearts.

This must be the most amazing fruit we have ever seen and so just had to buy some. They were for sale on market day in Cadiar on Tuesday, the man said they are called corazon de dragon - dragons hearts - he cut one open for us to try, so we bought a couple, partly so we could take a picture for this blog! John googled the fruit, it comes from a cactus, a big cactus, which looked a bit like a Christmas cactus to me but much larger. Similar shape of leaf. It is eaten as shown, cut in half and scooped out with a spoon, it tastes similar to melon. I'm wondering whether to save some seeds and try our luck growing them here although they are a tropical fruit.

We've been here 6 years now and it's the first time we've seen any fruit quite so unusual. Anyone else ever seen this before????

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

A nice surprise - and other things.

I think I've mentioned before about the walks people do along the GR 7 footpath....baggage taken on ahead while you walk and enjoy the scenery, followed by a day to yourselves to explore or relax. We quite often meet people who have walked down to Montenegro on their day off in Yegen, and a few weeks ago I met a couple from Rye who - on their day off - were walking down to Yator. We got chatting (over a cup of tea on their way down and a cold drink on their way back up) about life and such, the differences in things and at some point I mentioned oxos as Spanish stock cubes just don't have the same oomph.

Went to check the mailbox this afternoon to get the much delayed post and there was a small padded envelope, very unexpected as birthdays are done and dusted, return address not something I recognised, and inside was a box of oxos and a note from the couple from Rye saying thanks for the refreshments and hospitality! So thanks to Dee and Chris, if you want a mention for your shop, add a comment here!

On a different subject, we went on an errand day yesterday, the Polo had to be taken in for it's tyre to be looked at, we discovered it had a nail in it and it had damaged the inside as it went flat so we need a new one. Bit annoying as it's only just over 2 years since all 4 were replaced and with our mileage it should have done about 10 more! Still, that's life as they say. Then off to the builders merchant to pay our bill from May - and we still got a discount for cash! Then to the ayuntamiento (council) to get our permit to have bonfires - you can only have fires from November to the end of May and to have a fire without a permit is very serious and expensive in fines. Only 1 form to fill in, no cost, and the Medio Ambiente guy (environment) said do you speak English because my mother is English and I don't speak it well enough....and there we were trying to improve our Spanish! Then off to Ugijar for a bit of shopping, bocadillas and beer for lunch and home.

It's been really warm lately, warmer than we think is normal and I have been in the pool later this year than ever. I was in on the 30th and 31st October and 1st November as well. But this afternoon there was a cooler breeze, the leaves are dropping fast so maybe autumn is coming. We composted 2 barrow loads of leaves from the mulberry tree a couple of days ago and there are many many more to fall yet. Forget the mulberry bush of the nursery rhyme, this tree is about 10 or more metres high!

Moonrise and sunset

Just as the full moon was rising we also got a spectacular sunset.