Thursday, 30 December 2010

The beginning....

Yes, today has been the beginning  of this years olive harvest.   TV adverts may make it look very laid back and gentle....shake the tree and off they drop...... No,  in reality that just doesn't happen!

First lay out your nets.  We have 3, each one is 8 metres by 4 metres, they take some moving, and you can't drag them in case they snag on the ground and make holes which the olives will fall through.  Having laid them out, you need to peg the ones on the lower terrace up onto poles so the olives don't roll away as they land.  Then you can start harvesting.  This is usually done by whacking the branches with a long pole or by using a large plastic comb to separate the olives from the branches.  Even though they are very black and oily they don't want to come off easily.  Lots of leaves and small ends of branches all come down as well, these have to be thrown away before the olives are put into sacks.

Any  well-laden branches that we can't reach, John cuts out as part of the pruning process and  I pick it clean when it's on the ground,  when one tree is finished and the olives are bagged, then we tidy up the trimmings, firewood etc before moving on to the next tree.

As you can imagine, it's a time consuming business but usually it's worth doing for the oil and cash.  This year however the price is less than last year and that was even lower than we'd ever known....  we're down to 30 cents a kilo.   I'm sure the supermarket price will be the same though.

So 4 hours work, 3 trees harvested (1 small, 1 straggly with very little on it and 1 good one)  has given us 1 sack of olives.  About 30 kilos, which will pay about  €9.   They do say it's better than nothing and every little helps....at least the sun was shining and I had nothing else to do!

But here are some sunny photos of olives and  someone in the distance is burning their olive trimmings.

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

So that was Christmas.

Another Christmas over!   Only 3 mince pies left now,  a half of a  Stollen,  about half a figgy pudding and  2  bowlfuls of sherry trifle   - I'm sure I spent longer cooking it all then we did eating it.  Although to be fair, we haven't eaten all of it, friends came up for drinks and tapas on Christmas Day and quite a lot of the mince pies and Stollen were eaten then.  But we still have lots of chocolates left  to enjoy in the New Year - no, not home made but pressies from friends.

Mat came down from Paris for his Christmas break,  despite the bad weather the flight was only 30 minutes late in to Almeria, but when we got down there this morning for his flight home, the flight up to Madrid was cancelled as the incoming plane was iced in somewhere.   Luckily there was availability on the next flight out and they changed his ticket, also the connecting Madrid to Paris flight was changed.  If only we'd known.....we had to get up at 6.30 and left home at 7.10 in the pitch black.  And we could have had a lie in!!!  Oh well.

A belated Merry Christmas and a very happy New Year to everyone who regularly reads this - hope it gives you some idea of life in the Alpujarras.


Next up - olive harvest!  The mill in Yator is up and running already so we'll be out picking quite soon.  Let's hope the sun continues to shine.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

A wonderful Christmas present.

And it's open!!  They said the road would be done by the end of the year and they were right.  The last of the concrete was laid on Friday,  the road remained shut over the weekend for it to harden/set/go off  and late on Sunday evening we heard the first  car since the end of October go past here.  

Today it has  poured with rain - and still is - but we went out to the shops just because we could!   It was nice not to have to go togged up in boots and wet weather clothes with a rucksack like last year. 

There are parts of the new road which have mud and gravelly stuff on which has washed down from the land but because the surface slopes slightly into the hillside,  any mud and stones is mostly washing down the drains.  Some stones have rolled out onto the road but nothing major.

And here is the final bill.  Many thanks to whoever applied for the funding and to those who provided the money.  What a wonderful Christmas present to those of us who live and/or work their land in Montenegro.

But remember - to those of you who know this area - the road only goes from Yator to Montenegro.  From here up to Yegen remains a track so if you couldn't drive it by car before, you still can't.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Yo-yo weather

This time last week the temperature varied from 15° to 21° whereas this morning when I went out at 8.15 it was only 0.7°  and by this afternoon it had reached the dizzy heights of 8.1°  There was frost on the ground up at the fuente and where the track had been muddy it was now frozen.

Now I know that's not as cold as some people are experiencing - but for this area it's a bit chilly!!

We've just wrapped up  warmly  and taken the dogs out for a long walk and now we're back I've lit the wood-burner and I think we'll hunker down for the night.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

A week gone - are you sure?

That was a quick week!  Wherever does the time go to?

 At various times this week I've made brown bread, white rolls, soups, dulce de membrillo which is quince paste and is usually eaten with cheese, frozen the wild boar casserole which we were cooking last time I wrote, planted 150 garlic cloves which have popped up within the week, bottled 23 small jars of black olives into oil, some with garlic in as well,  we've racked off all the wines so they are  bottled and ready for drinking  if needed.  Sampled some of the black fig wine when Mariano popped in yesterday and ate a jarful of the newly done olives as tapas.  The next 2  batches of olives aren't quite ready for bottling yet, probably in the next week or so.



Membrillo is really easy to make - if you can find quinces that is!  Peel, chop and cook them in water.  The longer they cook the deeper red the colour is, then strain off the juice and puree the fruit.  Weigh the puree and return to a pan with an equal amount of sugar.  Bring to the boil stirring constantly until you have a  thick gooey paste.  I poured my onto a baking parchment covered tray to set, then wrapped it up and put it in the fridge.  It will keep for quite a few weeks.


The meat had fallen off the ribs in the casserole and it is so tender!   Monty and Pip have had some of the bones - they only get them when we are able to keep an eye on them as it's the only thing they have a serious disagreement about.  If either of them goes anywhere near the other,  some very nasty growling starts up  and if we don't keep them apart they have to be separated with a  good squirt of cold water. 

As well as log splitting and refilling the log store, (he splits and I stack but unfortunately the handle of the splitter has itself split this week,)   I walked down to Yator yesterday morning to meet friends and then we went into Cadiar - I had Christmas parcels to collect from the post office and wanted to see how the new road was progressing.

And it's nearly finished!   It'll probably be completed this weekend so we should be able to go out and about soon.  Having concrete instead of a track should save us a lot of wear and tear on the tyres, although the economy being as it is, we've all got less money to go out and about with.  Maybe next year will be better, we can only hope.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

It's Autumn again - or early Spring.

Over the last few days, the temperature has started to climb again and the skies have cleared.  Today has been glorious, we woke up to blue skies and sunshine and a high of 15°.   Breakfast outside on the terrace followed by a bit of a spring clean for me....carpets out on the balcony, curtains washed.....  I know it's not spring but it's best to do  these things while the weather is spring-like.

We got the all-clear about the boar meat yesterday,  Antonio had been to the vet the previous day.  We de-ribbed the rack of ribs (there's probably a better butchers word for that)  and put them to marinade in red wine, a clove of  garlic for each rib, onions, rosemary, bay leaves and black pepper.  This morning I put  the slow cooker onto it's lowest setting and left them to cook.   There are wonderful smells wafting up from the kitchen this evening - but we aren't  going to  eat them yet,  just taste them, then freeze them for Xmas. 


If you should have both a slow cooker and a neighbour who gives you wild meat, then this book looks wonderful.   There are recipes for not only boar but venison, turkey, duck, goose, partridge, pheasant, rabbit  and even squirrel and bear!

If you click on the book title, you will find a link which enables you to browse the contents of the book - just in case you want to know more!

Monday, 6 December 2010

On-line shopping?

Almost every weekend of the year,  the local guys are out hunting.  Partridge when in season and wild boar at any time, but especially if the boars have been damaging the acequias and land.

This weekend is no different except that there's more shooting because it's a long holiday weekend, today is Día de la Constitución  and Wednesday is Inmaculada Concepción.

Late on Sunday afternoon, Antonio who is a neighbour of ours drove down as far as he could (new road, couldn't get far)  to help a friend of his.  They'd shot a boar earlier in the day and needed help to get it up to the road.  It must have been a long way down in the bushes  as he was gone quite a while.  We next saw him with the boar in a wheelbarrow while his 2 sons and a friend had a rope around the dead boar - with the boys pulling and Antonio pushing the barrow they managed to get the boar to where he'd left his car.  I assume they couldn't get it in, because he drove home pulling the boar behind him.

He stopped on the way past to replace the road closed sign that he'd had to by-pass and we went out to see how big the boar was.  He reckons about 70 kilos which explains why they couldn't get it in the car!   He then asked if we'd like some meat - a leg perhaps or a shoulder.  I'm not very keen on meat that looks like an animal -  skinned and jointed I can cope with, so John went up to watch and help with the jointing.

But not only did we get given a leg which weighs 4 kilos, but also a rack of ribs, some steak and trimmings.  A grand total of 8 kilos.  Antonio has to take some samples for the vet to test to make sure the animal is edible and when we get the ok, we'll get some cooked.  We've been googling for ideas - marinade it, cook low and slow seems to be recommended but we've also found some lovely sausage ideas. 

Who said there's no such thing as a free lunch?

Friday, 3 December 2010

The concrete is here!

Despite the rain that came down over the last few days, the base of the new road is in a very good condition. In fact, it's never been as good.

Last night Mariano came down for a drink and to let us know that they would be starting to lay the concrete today.  But as there were no "pista cortada" notices, could we park our car outside so nobody could get past. Well, no.  Didn't think that was a very good idea at all, so instead we made a sign which we attached to some orange fencing and strung that across the pista so no-one could get through.

First up today was the grader doing a final check, then a lorry delivering sheets of steel mesh, 8 workmen and then  the first concrete mixer.  The workmen are laying the mesh and putting in metal edges for a mold, which will be taken out later.  They have set up a 'hopper' for mixing the cement and  gravel  down in Yator - quicker and needs less mixers.

By 5.30 pm they were about 400m or so from us, obviously working from the top  downhill.   Spoke to the 'jefe' this morning, he reckons about 6 or 7 working days.  Not sure exactly when it'll be driveable - but I'm sure we'll find out when someone comes up and can't get through our road closed sign. 
Delivering the mesh and the first mix load.

We assume that when they finished work tonight, they've left a machine/roller or something across the end of the Yator end to stop traffic.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Is it winter already?

After a few days of persistent drizzle and a forecast that includes light snow overnight, I'm beginning to wonder what has happened to Autumn!

We've been hunkered down indoors, tiling kitchen walls,  keeping the wood burners stoked up  and taking the dogs for wet walks.  How far we go depends on how wet it is, steady drizzle I don't mind but when it blows inside your hood and trickles off your raincoat and inside your boots - well, then it's time to come home and dry off.

We'd just finished lunch today, made a cup of tea and I was thinking about another wet walk when the electric went off.  We expect brief power cuts when it's bad, especially when there's snow or high winds around, but at lunch time it wasn't any of those things so we thought it'd be a brief cut-off.  But no, it was much longer.  It went off at 2pm and by 6pm when it was getting gloomy indoors we lit candles in the lounge and found the 'bluey'.  I don't know the proper name for the bluey, John calls it that.  It's a blue portable gas bottle,  its  flame has a glass cover over it,  we inherited it with the house.  I think it's probably something campers might use?  Anyway, it only comes out once in a blue moon and we'd only had it and the candles alight for about half an hour, when the electricity came back on.

We've left everything out though, just in case! 

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Watering Wednesday.

Wednesday and watering day for the new road!

We couldn't hear any noise during the morning on Wednesday and having an hour or so to spare before lunch, thought we'd take the dogs out for a  walk down to Yator.  It's a long walk for them because they run backwards and forwards and go about 3 or 4 times as far as we do.  We dropped in on some friends for a coffee and a chat and left about an hour later to head back up the hill and home for lunch.

As we reached the cemetery, the water bowser lorry was coming down and  spraying as he went.  He turned round and set off back up followed by us - still spraying water and with us trying not to get our feet too wet.  Following behind us was the road grader spreading the gravel more evenly and then behind him came the road roller packing it all down.  The roller spent all afternoon going backwards and forwards, it also has some sort of vibrating mechanism to pack it down more solidly.

We had a chat with the driver of the water bowser,  he said it holds about 10,000 litres of water.  He also said  that when they start laying the concrete, it will take about a week to 10 days and obviously many, many lorry loads!

Monday, 22 November 2010

More machinery.

We were right about the steam roller, except it wasn't a steam one, more than likely a diesel roller!  

First up on Friday was a  tractor pulling a water bowser.  They were used a lot when the road  was built between Yator and Cadiar,  the bowser sprays water onto the surface ready for the roller to pack it down.   The driver adjusted the spray from a fine spray to what seemed to be a drenching.  The road surface looked very soggy but after the roller had been up and down a few times it was solid again.  They repeated this on Saturday morning.

Then this morning the road grader reappeared, stopped at the end of the new road and waited for a while until a truck appeared.  The big Cat has made a large area below Cortijo la Loma, which is about 500 metres away on the way to Yator.  The trucks have enough space there to park, wait and turn around.  But from there to us is uphill and there are  also about 6 curves in the track.  The trucks came from there in reverse to dump their loads of gravel before driving down for a refill.  There were 3 trucks altogether coming and going all day, with the grader levelling out the gravel behind them.  It looks quite a thick layer of gravel that's been laid.

By the end of tomorrow, they should have finished.   And then - well, we'll have to  wait and see what comes next.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Rain, what rain?

Well, the promised rain - or at least the chance of some drizzle - never happened.  The most we got was a few drips yesterday morning and I think there might have been some late one evening too.  Can't remember  which day it was!  All I know is that we have planted about 500 broad bean seeds this week and then watered them in - they should provide the ground and composts with some really good nourishment in the spring.

Most of the leaves have dropped off the trees and been swept up ready to be layered in the compost and we have dried plants, twigs and such like to go through the chipper and into the compost as well.  The chipper has been very poorly recently, it wouldn't start so there was no point taking it up to the composts ready to work.  J  had to strip the engine down and try everything, clean spark plugs and other things that mean nothing to me.  Eventually it was found to be a problem with the fuel getting to the carburettor.  It all looked a bit complicated and oily and  there was lots of to-ing and fro-ing to the user manual.   The first 18 or so pages were health and safety do's and dont's - all he needed was the 'exploded'  picture of the engine and it's components.   But finally it started with a roar,  lots of dirty exhaust fumes poured out and then it settled down to it's usual chug chug sound.  So tomorrow it's up to the compost terrace with it to get that area shredded and tidied.

The road builders are still out there 'draining' and late this afternoon the grader came up and worked it's way back down.  Maybe this is the last re-grade before the concrete?!   We can see another machine parked just off the road below us, but can't see quite what it is.  I think it's a steam roller....time will tell.

And an added extra:  the sun has just gone down leaving behind some amazing streaks of colour.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Just a quick one...

for those of you who are wondering what's happened this week.

The road builders are still out there doing what they do best - well, not at this moment obviously but all week from 8am till 6pm with the traditional 2pm till 3pm lunch break.  The big Cat has gone, the road grader is grading and shaping drains and 2 different sized diggers are making large holes and trenches for concrete drains to be laid for rain run-off.  A couple of other guys are cementing stones around the new drains and  laying stones on top of the large dry stone walls built last week by the Cat.

In the house, J has been tiling the kitchen floor.  It's been a long time coming but while the weather is dry and sunny it makes no sense at all to start indoor work.  Last weeks forecast was not good so he tiled instead.  But the weather wasn't that bad really only a day or so of wind and then back to normal.  It took a lot of sweeping to get the leaves bagged up and 5 sacks have gone up to the compost heaps.   There would have been a lot more only I don't know where they ended up!   And if anyone finds an empty plastic paint bucket, it's one that used to live down on the bottom veg terrace for watering.  Probably half way to Almeria by now after those winds!

So we have been back outside today rotavating, emptying the composts, digging that in and then tidying the individual veg beds.  Broad beans to be planted next week, mostly as a green compost, they'll get dug in to enrich the soil early spring.  Except of course those that we need to keep  for eating,  freezing and next years seeds.

The forecast says possible drizzle this evening so that'll be good for the newly done veg beds as the ground is very, very dry.   

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Weather warnings.

We were outside tidying tools and stuff away last night when we realised that we could hear a steady roar from far away up in the Sierras.  Having lived here for 7 years now, we know what that sound means....strong winds for the next day or longer even!  So we checked shed doors were shut tight and locked, stacked chairs out of the wind and generally made things secure.

Then  we checked the weather forecast for Yator.  Ok, I know we don't live down in Yator but the weather from the north has to go past us to get there so it's a good indication of our weather too.  There were 145 weather warnings for Spain, 4 of which were for Granada Province, 1 of which was for high winds for the Alpujarras, gusting up to 100 km/h.   And wow, was it windy last night!   Pip was so scared of the noise that she slept up on our bed between us for safety.  Monty slept down the side of our bed and the wind howled all night long.

This morning only a few things have blown around outside,  and apart from 1 fig tree which has blown over, I can't see any other damage.   But there is dust and grit all over the table  and chairs on  the terrace  and the pista looks like it's been sandblasted clean!

As I write this, it's still windy although not as bad as last night.  But maybe it sounds worse when it's dark. 

Monday, 8 November 2010

New week, new machine.

Another week, another machine on the pista doing the next stage of the work.  This time it's a motor grader and just in case you've never seen one it is like a stretched version of a digger, with 4 back wheels,  2 front wheels and  blades for levelling and putting a gradient on the road.  It is also, very cleverly,  able to tilt the blade up and out  to smooth the surface of the banks that come down to the pista.  I think the one working here has 2 blades - must be a different model to this photo.

No, this is not our new pista! 























It  - or rather the driver - also seems to be making the  V- shape for drainage gullies and there has been a delivery of bendy piping for draining the rain water under the new road. 

The weather forecast has a slim chance of rain over the next 24 hours -  it says 0.1mm per hour possibly up to 0.6mm but hopefully that won't affect their work.

Friday, 5 November 2010

What on earth are these?

First there was one, now this morning there are two.  Both about a handspan across - 8" / 20cms or so and a little bit deeper than that.  The grass has been pulled up to make a curved entrance and it's very neatly woven together. 

So what on earth has made them?  No evidence of animal droppings, neither Monty nor Pip were excited about them so I'm assuming no lovely smells there for them either.

Is it some sort of ground nesting bird?  Or a mouse house?  Does anyone know who is going to move in?  I'd like to know before I get a shock on the morning walk!  They are quite small structures, so whatever it is will probably be more worried than us.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Our first peanuts!

We had a bit of an experiment with different plants this year.  A friend had bought peanuts for planting last year and we thought we'd give them a try too.  A small box of 32 nuts was €3. 50,  of which 20 germinated and 18 have produced nuts.  Quite difficult to count exactly how many nuts there are, but I reckon they've made about 150 or so.  10 have already started to sprout - maybe last weekends rain got them going - anyway  I've planted them up and will try to over-winter them.  We are leaving the nuts outside in the sun during the day to dry out, and then we'll store them somewhere safe  - and mouse free! - till the spring.

The other success has been sweet potatoes,  did very well and we have 40 cuttings rooting which need lots of looking after during the winter as they don't like cold of any sort, be it a cold wind or just cold air.  The leaves blacken and the plant dies.

And  to round off a good week, the olive trees are laden and we have picked our first olives for 2 years.  These are ready for brining before storing for eating.  Most of our trees have small olives for oil, these are from our neighbour's  trees, they have some of a different variety.  Much smaller trees but much bigger olives.

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Dry stone walling

Late Friday afternoon, and we went  for a walk down the pista to see what the  Cat had been up to, as we hadn't been able to see it but had heard rumbling and clanging noises.  We waited till about 6pm,  when he'd finished work as Cats and dogs don't mix well!


The clanging had obviously been a delivery of rocks - the tailgate of the large lorries bang when they shut,  and  the rumbling was the noise of the rocks hitting the ground.  This is the extra large version of dry stone wall building!   Only about a dozen rocks per delivery,  no idea what each one must weigh......

The original wall has been dug out to widen the pista and the new  stone one is to support the land behind.

Further up the road,  the side of the pista was very soft and crumbling and Saturday morning the Cat driver dug out the soft soil and replaced it with more rocks.  For such a large machine, it does an incredibly delicate job.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Call out charge: €3000......




Earlier today, 6pm, I was  just squeezing the last of the pomegranates for juice and my mobile rang.



It was Connie, our neighbour, to say there was a fire behind the cortijo of Miguel,  which is at the top of Montenegro near the fuente.  Micha, their son Ringo and the driver of the Cat were on their way up to try and beat out some of the flames while waiting for the Bomberos to arrive.



I grabbed the camera and ran, John grabbed the video and locked up, by the time I'd reached the ermita (chapel) the  helicopter was coming in,  to land next to the cortijos there  - to start with I thought I'd better wait till they'd lifted off - but then decided to try for a photo of them attaching the water bucket.   I ran again through the dust the blades were churning up and got some pictures.  Five or six of the bomberos walked up to the fire and I  carried on up to the path that leads to Miguel's and  ran across the land to see where the fires were.  There were quite a few areas, I could see Micha and Ringo and then the helicopter was coming in behind me, coming  for it's first run to dump water on the flames.  I got a bit damp from the spray!



The Medio Ambiente (environment guys) were next on the scene wanting to know where the access was - sorry, no vehicle access, only on foot!   So they parked, and walked up assessing the extent of the fire.  Then the helicopter returned again and again, dropping more and more  water on the burning bushes. 



After what seemed a long time but was less than an hour,  the fires seemed to be smoking rather than flaming and under control.  The helicopter landed to pick up  the  bomberos  and went back to it's base, leaving the Medio Ambiente guys up on the hillside.








Here is a video of the action in Montenegro, this evening . . . . .






Almost an hour later,  I came in to look at the photos I'd taken, when Monty and Pip started barking.   I  heard  a rumble outside and going past was a fire truck from Cadiar.

Now, the fire station in Cadiar is a recent addition,  the Cat has only just this afternoon finished widening and levelling the basis for our new road - what a day to need the fire truck!! 

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Diggers at dawn

The work continues, yesterday morning the Cat was perched above the pista, flattening off some rocks and picos - probably to use the material for landfill.

Most of the morning he was out of sight but we could still hear rocks falling, the clanging of the machine and a steady rumble of his engine.

Today it's been gradually clearing and widening the existing track on it's way up towards us.

If you look here  there's some footage of it - the Cat - in action early yesterday morning.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Bluetits

We are in the lucky position of seeing lots of birds around here, from the usual sparrow to the more exotic looking hoopoo, but don't often see blue tits.  However, yesterday afternoon  we  had a flurry of blue tits - there may be a proper name for seeing lots all at once - a gaggle is geese I know, maybe someone out there knows the name for seeing about 12 blue tits all at once???

They were in and out of the jasmine, grape vines, pear tree and the olives so fast it was hard to focus for a photo, but John managed to get this one reasonably well.  We think they were eating the last of the dried unpicked grapes, not sure what was so tasty in the jasmine although it's in full bloom so maybe they were eating the buds or some bugs!

Saturday, 23 October 2010

After 2 days....

Saturday afternoon and the Caterpillar has finished for the weekend,  leaving  a cleaner, wider pista.  He's probably about half way up to us now.   It's driveable  in places but there are stretches that are very soft, dusty and stony where he's cleared back rocks and hillside to widen the bends. 

We went down this afternoon for a walk, and I was amazed at the size of the Caterpillar having only seen them way above us moving hillsides when they redid the road from Yator to Cadiar a couple of years back.   They looked big then but  standing next to it today it's a very impressive machine. It's arm must have a reach of over 8 metres and the bucket on the end is enormous.

the view from the corral this morning
a larger, dustier pista
the Cat!

Friday, 22 October 2010

On the road again.....

Many months, back in January or February,  there was talk of a new road being built between Yator and Montenegro, replacing the pista that was there.  Basically,  the pista is a mostly single width dirt track which is usually ok by car, but needs a 4x4 after rain.

But then it rained and rained and gradually the pista collapsed in a couple of places,  an agave and 2 olive trees slid down onto it as well and so the re-surfacing cost became a re-build and the price went up.  (see blogs earlier this year for pictures!)

Each time we were given an indication of starting date, we made sure we were stocked up with heavy shopping - dog food, tinned stuff, anything that would last, as the contract was supposed to take 3 to 4 months and having been cut off last winter for 5 months, we know how much time and energy it takes to carry things home.


So the months passed and September came and went  (although we were told on the 4th of that month  "15 days to starting date")  and now it's October. 

So imagine our scepticism when Mariano stopped yesterday morning to say that the finances had been sorted our regarding replacing a wall and work was starting.  I don't know how to say anything very sarcastic in Spanish - something along the lines of "yeah, right" would have summed it up nicely.  But out we went to look and lo and behold, at the bottom of the pista was a very large machine, busily widening the track and cutting the banking back at an angle.

This morning he was about 200 metres up the road and at times today we've heard the machine working. Off out early tomorrow with the dogs to see how far it got by the end of today.

widening the start of the pista
moving earth from above
Nice to be able to write and post photos of the road improving rather than collapsing!

Saturday, 16 October 2010

The eagles have landed.

Although this isn't the best of photos, it's not for lack of trying or time waiting.  Two Bonelli's eagles came over again today and after a while drifting on the breeze, they landed in  a tree about 300 metres away.  I got the binoculars to watch them while John got a camera and suitable lens....and we waited for them to do something.

Hopefully they would fly away, not that we wanted them too really,  only so we could get pictures of the amazing wingspan and colours but I  think they were on a long,  lazy  lunch  break or something as we waited.....   and waited......   and waited. 

Eventually John went in to finish some previously started work while I man-ed (or womaned) the camera.  The sun went in, the clouds gathered, I got rather chilly in my strappy t-shirt and then with no warning, no flapping on the wings or anything, they went.   They just dropped off the tree, down into the shade of the hillside before I could get a photo.

So after all that time, this is the best we took.

Friday, 15 October 2010

A grand day out.

We've had a day out in the big city with friends!   We only normally go out when we need shopping or some other basic stuff, but as my birthday is nearly here we thought a day out would be nice.

We spent Wednesday in Granada walking and talking, sightseeing and window shopping,  stopping for coffee or wine and tapas,  as and when we liked the look of a bar and then enjoyed the sunshine and 'people watched' as well.

Had some lovely wines and tapas to match, ranging from queso y jamon  to  tortilla,  blue cheese drizzled with honey  then  paella, marinated pork with spicy vegetables and what always seems a very strange combination - a dish of salted nuts with the addition of jelly tots!

just finished a glass of wine and paella,  looking up at  the cathedral
Anyway the sun shone all day despite the forecast of possible showers during the afternoon and we had a nice relaxing time - totally different from our normal day when we seem to be always on the go.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Harvesting herbs and seeds

This time of year is harvest time of a different sort,  almonds  to be husked and dried, grapes to be picked and made into wine, herbs to be picked and dried, seeds to be collected and stored.

We are picking and drying sage for making stuffing this winter.  The basil continues to have haircuts and be dried or pestoed (??)  if there's such a word!  The fennel which grows wild everywhere is setting seed and I collect seeds nearly every day - they grow in flat clusters of tiny groups and need separating for drying and then we use them in curries, Mexican food, in stir fries, added to rice dishes......The last of the dwarf bean seeds are being collected for next years planting and we have managed to grow a kidney bean plant.

That is a major success as  dried kidney beans are  not as common as  haricot or other white varieties.   When we had some last year,   I soaked a dozen or so  in cold water then planted them out in pots.  4 germinated but only 1 eventually survived and it now has lots of pods drying which we are keeping for seeds.  The theory is that they will be good, strong seeds having survived the initial drying process and now they've had a second chance of life.

I did google kidney beans as we had no idea of the size of the plant or what exactly what defines a  kidney bean.  It all seems to depend on your point of view - could be the shape, the colour, take your pick.  As far as I'm concerned, a kidney bean is dark red and kidney shaped and that's what we've grown.

Friday, 8 October 2010

Noises in the wood pile.

Monty and Pip have  blanket outside on the  terrace for daytime sleeping - which they do a lot of when it's hot - near that is a smallish wood pile and along the edge of the woodpile are some houseplants,  2 of which are spider plants.   

I heard a clicking noise from the woodpile a few days ago,  noticed also  that some of the baby spider plants were no longer hanging down and seem to have got inside  the logs!   All very strange.  And then there was the noise.  Something flexing it's muscles?   Cracking it's knuckles?  Chomping it's way through the woodpile?   But something that didn't bother either of the dogs, and believe me, they can chase a gecko or mouse when they see one!!

So we decided the next morning we would empty the pile and find out what had taken up residence.  Armed with sturdy gloves, a can of insect repellant (just in case!) and a mattock (just in case it was bigger than an insect)  we started to move  the plants.

That was when I noticed that the spider plants were now much smaller than the day before and down to a stump in places!  But we set to work moving logs and - I didn't see it  - but John said "there it goes!"  apparently a rat had shot out of the log pile and dashed straight into a larger pile.  Even Pip, fast as she is, didn't get hold of it but we put her to work trying to get it out or at least frighten it off.

That seems to have worked, as it's not been seen or heard since then.  And what was the noise?  It had taken the spider plant leaves to start a nest and there were also almonds in there with holes in and that was the noise we'd heard - the rat chewing / gnawing holes in the shell to get at the nut.

Monday, 4 October 2010

A minty morning.









When we went out for our usual morning walk up to the fuente and back,  I noticed that  the land to the side of the path which is always covered with mint  is now  all in flower.   That bancal is about 1 metre lower than the footpath but the mint is so tall it's now level!   There are at least 3 types of mint,  1 with quite bushy lavender coloured flowers, 1 with slim blooms and much paler in colour but both with green leaves and the third type  grows in the running water and has very dark green almost purple leaves.  The green leaf mints have a slightly hairy feel while the purpley leaf one is very smooth and has a different flavour.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Our first boniatos

And in case you're thinking,  boniatos, what are they?  They are  sweet potatoes.  This is the first year we've grown any  and they seem to be doing well.   I've found lots of information out there in the big wide world that is the internet  and all the info says that sweet potatoes need between 120 and 150 days of warm, sunny weather.  These were planted at the start of May so have had 5 months of Spanish sunshine and it seems to have suited them extremely well.

and there are lots more under the ground ........
We don't do very well with a lot of root crops apart from potatoes which we can guarantee will grow well,  so can add these to our 'definitely need to plant'  list.  Their biggest problem is a real dislike to cold weather,  even  a cool wind will affect them.  This time last year some friends gave us some rooted cuttings   and we potted them up to overwinter.  Even double wrapped in fleece, protected within walls from the wind, the leaves went black overnight when the  temperature dropped and a cold north wind got amongst them.  These plants were bought from the almacen in Cadiar, 10 slips (unrooted plant tips)  cost €1.50 so a few more boniatos like today's will see us in profit.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

A forgotten photo

A few weeks ago when I was out picking figs,  I saw a bird's nest in the tree.   Not any old nest but - we think - it's a nest made by the Golden Orioles.  They make nests that hang down from the branch, sort of suspended in the air.  It's  quite an intricate construction involving lots of shredded paper and other unidentifiable things, but all locally sourced!!

The Orioles have all headed off south now for the winter sun, and have been replaced by the magpies.  They seem to roost - and possibly nest -  in the same  trees.  Having said that, we've never seen a baby magpie so maybe that happens elsewhere.  Need to look in my bird book for that information.

Thursday, 30 September 2010

'Elf and Safety

So there we were at  10.45am  happily picking grapes in the sunshine,  rinsing the dust off them and  picking them from the bunches ready to go indoors and make a batch of wine, when Fernando came up from Yator on his dumper on his way to his cousin's land  to cut firewood.  Of course he stopped for a chat as he always does,  tasted the grapes, told me they were Moscatel and after a while he left. 

Well, almost.  He looked up at the mulberry tree that is outside our house, overhanging the driveway and said it's much too big, dense, overhanging a walnut, fig and several olives and ought to be pruned.   He pruned it about 6 years ago, we've done it since then but it grows so fast!   And it's not our tree!  It belongs to Carmen and family next door and  she loves the shade it provides in the summer.   But for the rest of the year, it just overhangs everywhere.

So it needed to be cut, he said he'd do it and we thought he meant another day but no.  Out came the chainsaw and axe and less than an hour later we were surrounded by logs and greenery. 
at least he stopped work to answer the phone!

Safe?  and he drives an ambulance for a living!
He left us then to do his firewood,  later on he stopped for a beer  on the way down to Yator and to show us his dog which he'd managed to run over with his dumper - luckily she only had a cut foot and a cut leg but was very unhappy ran off!!   I found her whimpering behind our house a couple of hours later,  John phoned Fernando to tell him where she was  and we put her outside by the mulberry branches with a drink to wait for him to collect her.  

This is Copo, - copo de nieve is a snowflake
It took until 5. 30 to get the logs stacked, the branches cut down and the leafy ends stacked so the leaves can drop off and be composted later.

We did eventually get our wine made as well  - but had a 5 hour delay! 

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Figgy pudding

We have so many figs growing here that it is hard to know what to do with them all.  So far we have made jam, umpteen litres of wine and dried them for the winter.  We use them chopped up small instead of buying raisins and sultanas - substitute black figs for raisins and white figs for sultanas.  They also go into muesli,  usually  to liven up shop-bought muesli   along with extra almonds - also lots of those around here.


One recipe I came across is for figgy pudding,  it makes a really good alternative to the traditional -usually shop bought - Xmas Pud.  Most of the recipes used fresh figs,  of course fresh figs aren't available at Xmas so this recipe is ideal. 


half cup butter
half cup lard
1 cup gran sugar
3 large egg yolks
1 cup milk
2 tablespns rum or brandy
1  apple, peeled cored and finely chopped -  I use dried apple or pear slices if no fresh
1 lb dried figs, finely chopped - black for a dark pud, white for a paler one
grated peel 1 orange and 1 lemon
1 cup chopped nuts - almonds are good especially as they are free around here
half teaspn cinnamon
1/4 teaspn cloves
1/4 teaspn ginger  -   I use mixed spice for these last 3 ingredients
1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs
2 tspns baking powder
3 large egg whites, whisked till stiff


Cream butter and lard.  Add sugar, egg yolks, milk, booze, fruit, nuts, spices and breadcrumbs and baking powder. Lastly fold in egg whites.

Put in greased bowl, cover with grease proof paper - tied on - and either steam for 4 hours at 160°  in a tray of water  or put into a pressure cooker for 20 mins steaming and 50-60mins at low pressure. Leave to reduce pressure at room temp and enjoy with custard or ice cream or cream or all of them!

I make a half size recipe,  put into a 1.5 litre  pyrex  bowl which fits beautifully into the pressure cooker.   That makes  6 good portions.


Enjoy!!

Saturday, 18 September 2010

September rain.

We've had our September rain - it started Thursday, rained very heavily in the night and there was thunder rumbling around the Sierras and the Contraviesa all the time too. 

Yesterday we just had showers,  we managed to get out for an early morning walk with Monty and Pip  in between breakfast time and the next  shower but that was it for most of the day.  It's watered the land nicely, dampened down the dust, cleared the air and cleaned the cars too!!.  Although today has been lovely and sunny, it's also been very humid.

Pip doesn't like the heavy rain or the thunder and hides under the bed during the day.  In the night, when the rain was very heavy, she came and curled up on the bed between us -  she must feel  safer there.

So there's no need to water the land tomorrow, our watering day, but we still need to fill the storage tanks for the next 2 weeks of vegetable watering.  

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Jam makers extraordinario!

Yes, we've been at it again, only today John was chief jam maker.  I went out after lunch picking  figs, almonds, lemons and peaches, and while I prepared the peaches for the freezer, made lemonade to drink and separated the husks from the almonds, John made black fig jam.

2 kilos of figs, halved and simmered.  Whizzed with the hand blender to get rid of the lumps - he doesn't like lumps in his jam - added 1 kilo of sugar and simmered till setting point.  We added a few spoonfuls of the lemon juice to take the edge off the sweetness and now have another 8 jars of jam.

Tomorrow?   Well,  probably not more jam as there's only so much shelf space!   But I'm sure something will be made....

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Cooking at altitude.

It's not something you necessarily think about when moving house,  but when your bread dough (sometimes) doesn't rise or your jam takes forever to reach setting point, that's when you start to look into the problems and hopefully find some answers!

We were given a pressure cooker for a wedding present,  now no longer holding pressure unfortunately, but very good as a large stockpot / pickle and jam maker. (We have a new one, a gift from the bank..!)   But the original handbook is still in use and at the very beginning it says "if you live higher than 600m above sea level, adjust your cooking time in the following way....low pressure changes to medium, medium becomes high and for high pressure, add 1 minute cooking time for every 300m above 600."   What I didn't know was that boiling point got  lower the higher you went.....

So today when I started the red grape jelly, I knew that it would take a while longer than the recipe said to reach setting point.  In all fairness the recipe didn't actually say how long, but I bet they didn't think it'd take 1.5 hours!!!!!   I was beginning to think we'd not have anything left to put in jars, but have 8 beautiful dark red jars of jelly cooling in the kitchen.

I started with 3 bunches of grapes that weighed in at 2.7 kgs  ..... cooked for 3 minutes at high pressure with minimal water,  mashed then strained and that produced 4 pints of grape juice.  Added 4 lbs sugar and lots of boiling and stirring later we have 8 jars of jelly to add to the produce shelves in the kitchen.


I did a google search some time ago and found a 'cooking at altitude' website, so if there's anyone else out there wondering why the bread doesn't rise when it's humid  or  you're living high up,  that's the place to look for answers.

And don't get me started on dumplings...... never had a problem until we came here, but it's all in the size  -  small is good -   and a longer cooking time.

Maybe I should start a special section on here!

Monday, 13 September 2010

Jam time

We went up to the orange grove this morning, John strimmed, I raked everything into heaps - hopefully to rot down and feed the land - and then picked figs for more wine.

There are lots of grape vines climbing through the orange trees, up into the fig trees too, and they are nearly ready for picking.  Most of the grapes are lovely and sweet, some of the larger bunches have some a little bit too sour still,  but we are going to pick some tomorrow and make grape jelly.  Apparently those under-ripe ones have more pectin in and so there's no need to add any.  And grapes with pips don't need pectin added as it's in the pips!   I want to do both black grape jelly and white grape jelly, don't suppose the taste is any different but the black grapes have such a rich colour.

grapes with the balsa in the background
Yesterday I made 4 jars of  peach jam, there's only so many you can eat fresh or with ice cream and although I'd love to freeze some for winter crumbles, we are running out of freezer space. If we have any space before the peaches all drop off the  trees, I'll get some sliced and frozen.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Impenetrable bramble bush...

For those regular readers, you know that we are asked by our neighbour Mariano if we'd like to work on his land, doing his olive harvest , rebuilding dry stone walls - balates - and such like in previous months.

the bramble forest at 8am....
and some blackberries in the sunshine...
and later at 12 o'clock.
This week we have made a start clearing areas up near the fuente,  lots of overgrown bramble patches,  there's an overgrown orange grove to strim and dig over, an olive  tree on it's own little terrace (about 3m x 5m) that needs tidying up and another area of an unknown size that's not been seen for many years. One end has a large,  black fig tree and it ends up near some huge rocks - in between there appears to be a cherry tree and far too many brambles and mint.  Yes, mint.  It is growing everywhere up there, as  tall as me and flowering too.  Smells lovely when it's strimmed!  Unfortunately the brambles are not fruiting much, but what there is we are picking as we work.  They're probably too old, certainly very long and straggly, climbing up high into the trees.

So, we'll continue next week......

Monday, 6 September 2010

Anniversaries and fiestas

Last Friday was a double anniversary for us,  7 years since we left England for a change of life/style and 33 years since we got married.   We have another anniversary tomorrow as that is the day we actually arrived here having spent 2 days in Chateauneuf-du-Pape and 2 days in Tarragona on the way down south.

We decided not to go out for our anniversary but to stay home and spend the money on extra special food.  Thursday we went  to the coast to buy shell fish;  crab, lobster, prawns and a fillet steak.  We added some salad, a loaf of ciabatta,  a  croissant assortment for breakfast and some tiny pastries for dessert.   We made - or rather John did - some fish soup using the shells and prawn heads as a base.  And so the meal got rather too big!

It actually took us 2 breakfasts, 2 elevenses, 2 lunches and a 3 course dinner before it was finished!

Then on Saturday night we went with Mariano up to El Golco to join in their  fiesta celebrations.   We met some of his cousins, drank a glass or two of local wine - when I say a glass, it was actually served in half pint tumblers - and finally got home at 2.30am.

El Golco is a tiny village, smaller than Yátor, not even a bar, but it has the usual bread and fish daily deliveries.  The church was originally a mosque until the area became Christian and dates back to the 15th century. 

Looking out from the church, you can see a tiny cemetery.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

End of summer break

Not for us obviously as we aren't going anywhere, but our neighbours have come to the end of their traditional fortnight's break from the hustle and bustle of Granada.  Miguel has strimmed and strimmed the land nearest to their house and it's all looking nice and tidy.  The children are as brown as berries - as is Marie-Carmen - and  peace and quiet has returned.

Miguel  had an extra weeks  holiday in July,  which he  enjoyed, but unfortunately it was for all the wrong reasons.  He works at a Renault dealership in Granada and sales are so slow, that the boss said to take extra time out.  So slow in fact, that they haven't sold a car in the past 2 months.  Part of the reason for buying the strimmer and getting the land clear is just in case things get worse,  they have land that is ready  for digging and planting up with vegetables.  The family are in the fortunate position of owning a house in Yator and this one here in Montenegro where there is also 2 hectares of land.  

So off they went with last minute instructions not to forget to pick everything as it'll go to waste otherwise.  I made a good start this morning,  28 lbs of figs  which are on their way to being wine, and this afternoon I found some early almonds ready for picking.  They are outside de-husked (the husks  go in the wood burner when dry)  and the almonds are drying off in the sun and will be shelled another day - the shells burn too - not much wastage around here!

It'll be a few weeks before they get back down for a weekend, but Miguel's  hoping to buy a chainsaw next and get the olives pruned for firewood,  he's turning from a city boy into a  campesino.

Just found this article about car sales here:


The increase in IVA/VAT has put the brake on car sales in Spain, with the numbers down in August on the same month last year by 23.8%. It is the worst August for case sales for 20 years, with numbers also pushed lower by the end of the Government’s scrappage scheme.

Read more: http://www.typicallyspanish.com/news/publish/article_27046.shtml#ixzz0yJIaOFEY
 
So, no surprise that Miguel had  extra holidays....probably not the only person!

Friday, 27 August 2010

Oh deary me!

It's still hot, 10.15pm and 31.5°

How are we going to sleep tonight ?  Maybe out on the lilos floating on the pool!  

For an up to date weather check look here     - this page also includes the weather from the airports around the region.

After the 'blip'

We had a weather blip a while ago, when the temperature dropped overnight and stayed cooler for a week or so.  But now it's back up and is getting hotter every day.  Woke up this morning to a fairly warm 26° - and that was at 7.30am.   And this was the hottest it got -  I've  tried hard not to move about too much.

I've been practicing being a mermaid this afternoon, as that was the coolest place to be!

If you're wondering....the 12% is the humidity and the 1024 is the high pressure.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

La contributión

We received the bill for our contributión  in the post this week and have until the end of November to pay it without a surcharge.

This is the equivalent of the council tax that we used to pay in UK,  we pay annually to Mecina Bombaron  the grand total of......     €12.20.  

All right, so we don't have a street light outside our front gate, but we have lots of stars to see by and there are street lights in Montenegro at the ermita (chapel) and for about 100 metres or so each direction. 

We have to take our rubbish down to the wheelie bins,  but everyone has to do that, nobody has their own bin,  and we just have a little further to go.  At least the bins are emptied alternate days - not alternate weeks!!

What else does the council provide?  Road maintenance?  Well, with the exception of this year's horrendous rainfall we have always had access and the road is cleaned  by a JCB every Spring after the winter rains.

There is now a fire station in Cadiar, not sure who funds that but they can use some of our €12 if they need! 

That's a little different to our old house, that's now rated at £1404 a year and I'm sure there are lots of people who pay far more than that.     At least when we get our bill here, there isn't a sharp intake of breath  ..........although we do say "how much?"

Monday, 23 August 2010

Poor man's pesto

When I plant seeds, I leave them a week or two and then if nothing is happening,  put in some more, on the basis that you can't have too many.    Now however we have about 15 very large basil bushes that get a haircut every week or so to keep them tidy and to stop them going to seed too quickly.   Some gets dried for the 'off season'  the rest I have been making into a poor man's pesto - so called because we have run out of parmesan and we  never have pine nuts.

Into the liquidiser I put

2 cups of basil
1/4 cup of olive oil

and then whizz to a paste.   Sometimes I add a bit of salt, pepper and chopped garlic,  sometimes not.   But then I put a couple of spoonfuls into each yoghurt pot to freeze,  then push it out into a bag and re-use the pots.  You can freeze it in ice cube trays but I think they're better used for ice!     Who wants pesto  flavoured ice cubes in their drink??    Don't tell me, there's probably basil flavoured vodka out there somewhere!


Look what I've found!!!!!   A vodka basil pasta sauce....may be worth making next time we cook pasta.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Hot again.

After the weather blip, when the temperatures dropped for almost a week down to a very pleasant 25°,   things are back to normal and yesterday it reached 33°.   Some parts of Spain have had storms,  flooding, thunder and lightning but we were very lucky and it passed us by.   One late afternoon there were some big splodges of rain and one morning we woke up to damp ground so it had obviously drizzled in the night - but quietly as we hadn't heard it.

So what's been happening here? 

Wednesday was market day when we went to buy the only thing we don't grow at the moment - lettuce.   For some reason, although we've tried, they always seem to go strong tasting and even slightly chewy.  I think it's too hot, it's certainly not a lack of water,  but one of our neighbours grow plenty of lettuces - and in very  grotty looking soil as well!   So maybe next year I'll try a different variety of seed  and a different piece of land.  

7 large lemons fell off the tree - extremely ripe - and so they got made into lemonade.  2 litres, one in the fridge and one frozen until we need it.  So refreshing and no additives!

Friday some friends came up in the morning and went away with strawberry plants,  half a dozen red (and)  hot chillis and a cucumber.   The strawberries are going mad at the moment putting out runners everywhere  but still flowering and fruiting as well.

Pool cleaning this morning and watering day tomorrow.  The acequias are baked dry and weed free so it doesn't take long for the water to flow from olive tree to olive tree, where it then has a 'bowl' to fill before overflowing along to the next tree.   A little tweeking here and there sends it down smaller channels to the oleanders, lemon tree and orange tree.   At the same time, we refill all our storage tanks for the vegetable plots and also water the vegetables.  So  a busy morning, but during the afternoon, the water can be left to flow by itself while I get on with the important things of life - relaxing and swimming for a couple of hours.

Monday, 16 August 2010

Happy fiesta thoughts

Asunción Maria is usually celebrated on the nearest Saturday - at least since we've been part of Yator's celebrations - but this year every pueblo in  the Alpujarras has celebrated over the whole weekend.  Fireworks, music, food and drink and probably a lot more as well......

About 1pm the first fireworks started,  rockets really,   just to let people know that it's time to set off to their pueblo and get ready for lunch.   Later on in the evening, more rockets signalling the next round of festivities, and then the music starts.   We both woke up in the night as cars passed by - we don't normally have cars going up or down at night, only people coming up during the day to work their land.    And we think - although we were both  half asleep -  that music was still drifting up from Yator at 6 am. 

Is there a "happy fund" somewhere funding this, so people don't realise how bad  'el crisis'  is??   When they wake up after the weekend fiesta, they feel so tired they forget they have no job to go to?  

Just a thought!

Friday, 13 August 2010

Another fiesta coming

This weekend sees the celebration of Asunción Maria which takes place on the 15th of the month.   

Food, drink and fun I can understand, but I'm not sure how the face painting for the children and the foam party for everyone, quite fits in with this.  (see this months blog last year for photos of what goes on....)

Wikipedia has this to say about it:

Nuestra Señora de la Asunción Our Lady of the Assumption
Assumption of Mary Image

Assumption of Mary, or Assumption of the Virgin is the belief, according to tradition and theology of the Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church , that body and soul of the Virgin Mary was taken to heaven after the end of his days in the land. This transfer is called Assumptio Beatæ Mariæ Virginis (Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary) by Roman Catholics, whose doctrine was defined as dogma (truth that can not be doubted) by Pope Pius XII on November 1 of 1950 .  The Catholic Church celebrates the feast in honor of the Virgin Mary in the East since the sixth century and in Rome from the seventh century .. The feast is celebrated on August 15 .



No mention of food, drink and general fun though! 







From 36 to 24

Yup, the temperature has dropped from an almost melting 36° to a much more pleasant and slightly breezy 24° in just 48 hours.

We've opened all the windows and doors in an effort to get the breeze through and cool down the inside to something like the outside.  Despite having the shutters closed all day to keep out the sun, the temperature creeps up during the summer months - luckily never matches the outside maximum though.    It's currently 28° in the lounge.

Dark clouds to the north of us,  brighter but still cloudy to the south  and some enormous raindrops are splodging down as I write.  Not sure what the next 48 hours has in store - August can be unpredictable and is usually cooler than July which is why the 36° took us by surprise.

I had almost 3 kilos of tomatoes in the drier first thing this morning which I've had to take out  as without the sun there's not much drying going on in there,   and there's another 2.5 kilos waiting in the kitchen.   Maybe mañana!

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Skinny dipping

No,  not that sort of skinny dipping - certainly not with a photo as well!!  

This is about Pip who is mostly legs and ears and only weighs in at 10kgs -  and that is despite having an appetite as big as Monty's.   She has boundless energy but in this very hot weather she really needs to slow down and take life a little easier.   She hasn't learnt that lesson yet and so she runs out of steam, stands and trembles.   One late afternoon in May, when out for a walk, she got so hot that she just couldn't move, just stood and trembled, and yes I had to carry her the last 50 metres or so home.   But if she is watered, she quickly cools down and is off at full speed again.

Yesterday evening she overheated yet again, so John put her in the acequia to cool down.  Our acequia runs down through the side vegetable and flower garden and  runs into a 'sink' area that we keep filled for watering the garden.  Pip saw a frog which had come down with the running water and was in the 'sink'   -  that's what she's looking at!