Sunday, 28 February 2010

Colourful curtains

I was going to put up some pictures of the kitchen and its progress, but having taken some, I think I'll wait till we've done a bit more - like painting and tiling - and it's a bit tidier!! So for now, just one of the cooker and sink to show the curtains.

I bought some traditional Alpujarran material to make curtains to hang in front of the sink and some shelving, it's the usual style of kitchen in these old cortijos and is very colourful, quick and easy to do. That is, when you've worked out how much material you need. My brain went on a major go-slow on the day I went for material....I knew the finished curtain sizes, the material was 160cm wide, stripes down, I knew I needed some joins but asking the lady in the shop was no help. She needed a calculator to work out the price of 4 metres at €9 a metre. So I went to the nearest coffee shop to kick start the old grey cells, met a couple I know, not well but well enough for Carole to offer her husbands grey cells - as she said "he can work out area, he used to farm and work out hectares and such like" Not that I needed that much fabric of course!!

I've a bit left, an odd shape piece after cutting and joining to make the last curtain, possibly enough to make some place mats for the dining room, or a type of oven glove (but not a glove, just a long thick strip - is there a name for that?)

Yesterday was unusually warm and sunny so we took advantage and decided to clear out the bottom acequia. There were 3 land slips blocking it, 2 between one and two metres long and the 3rd was 6 metres of mud. It took all day, muddy back-breaking work as the acequia is below the footpath and narrow and we had to get in it, dig, rake and get the mud out onto the path- sometimes at almost shoulder height. Add to that the soil still wet and trickling back down as you dug... Clothes are all in soak, welly boots drying out. The only good thing is that it's a year since it was done so it works out at about 1 man hour a month and we have put some tubo into the worst area so if the soil continues to fall, at least the water can get through and not overflow onto our land.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

More whoops!

Yesterday John went into Cadiar, picked up a bit of shopping and bought home the meat. Then this afternoon I walked down with Monty and Pip, took the rubbish to the bin and bought back the carrots, cauliflower and a few other bits.

On the way we found a couple of olive trees which are not in the right place!! Both
trees have slid about 10 metres down hill, complete with all the undergrowth and soil and are upright but on the pista. The first picture shows how one tree has moved, the next 2 pictures are a different tree.

We don't know who's got the contract to concrete the pista but it's turning into more of a re-build than just a refurbishment. I wonder if the contract price has been agreed? They are supposed to be starting in March so I'd expect it all to be signed and sealed - there may not be much profit in it now!

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Water, water everywhere....

and not a drop to drink! Well, we have now but not this morning.

Went for a shower this morning to find no water in the tap, tried the outside tap, direct from the spring, and this was also dry. I rang Connie and Micha to see if they knew anything and apparently there had been a landslide which had damaged or ripped out the water pipe.

John, Micha, Mariano and Antonio went up to look at the problem - a fuente (spring) which has been dry for about 40 years has started flowing again because of all the rain - yes it's still raining, yesterday was one of the few dry, sunny days recently. The spring comes out up above Pepe and Miguels house/ruin and it has washed itself a river taking everything in its, trees, stone walls all gone downhill. When it got to the acequia which also has the water pipe alongside, that went too. It's impossible to see whether the pipe has been ripped out or is just squashed as there are tons of mud and stuff on top.

Everyone took up all they had of the right size pipe, taps and junctions to see if it could be by-passed. We had enough pipe and a tap but not a junction, Micha - I think it was - had junctions too so the pipe has been cut and relaid up and around the main problem area, above a tree which looks like it will be the next thing to slide. Until it all dries out, it won't be possible to dig out and repair.

More pista news, the road to Yegen is blocked again by numerous rock falls and mudslides. I haven't been to look, but Mariano has taken lots of photos which I have yet to look at. The road down to Yator is blocked again, similar problems but also a wall is starting to collapse onto the track. There are lots of places where the edges are cracking - that's what started the last large collapse. Worryingly for Micha and Connie is that the pista adjoining their land also has developed a crack up the middle of the road. We are lucky because none of our stretch has steep drops at the edge, and that is where the problems are occurring.

The Cadiar to Torvizcon new €19 million road has been closed for safety reasons. That road is a bus route in from Granada and for the post office delivery apart from all other main delivery vehicles. The road over the Contraviesa was closed due to subsidence, until the Guardia realised there was no way out of the area. The top road to Trevelez was or is blocked by rockfalls at a village called Pitres. The road on the way out of Yegen has collaped and is only passable by one car at time - and that is a bus route to Valor and Ugijar and onto Almeria. The road from Berja down to Adra on the coast is closed due to a landslide. So basically this area is pretty much cut off - anyone got a helicopter??

We have one car here, but can't get it out. Connie and Micha have the same situation but we both have a car in Yator for shopping. Mariano is stranded yet again but comes out with either of us if he needs anything.

Jerez de la Frontera is completely cut off - the airport, train line and motorway are all flooded. For more local news look at

this page searches twitter for anything applicable.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Shower caps

No, not because it's rained so much!

This is a serious request for shower caps - the sort that you get free in hotels. I put them over the mixing bowls when the bread dough is proving and we use them over the brewing buckets while the fruit is fermenting at wine making time.

But we only have 6, they are washed so regularly that the elastic is coming adrift from the cap - having said that, they aren't supposed to be used, washed, re-used etc etc!! So I suppose we're lucky to have any left at all.

But they are very light for posting, please if anyone has any, or access to any, pop them in an envelope and send them over. For the address see

and if you are ever visiting you will be able to eat the bread or drink the wine that your shower caps have helped produce.

Please don't think - oh well, someone else will send some. Can't have too many!

And finally for today....I don't ask a lot out of life, but as you will have noticed there are now google ads on this blog. It doesn't cost you anything to click but it pays me a few cents - you may even find something interesting. As they say...every little helps! But please don't overdo it...a couple of clicks, 2 or 3 times a week will be plenty - Thanks!

Monday, 15 February 2010


It rained a steady drizzle all night last night and we woke to find ourselves in the clouds yet again. The forecast had been for snow but that didn't arrive.

Took the dogs out for their morning constitutional - not a great view, in fact visibility down to 50 metres or so. But as we went round the bend from the repaired road, this is what we found! A huge agave, plus lots of small ones, roots, soil, the lot - all slid down from the edge above onto the pista.

It was one of the few times that I didn't have my camera, usually I put it in my pocket just in case but as it was so cloudy I didn't bother. So after elevenses we went back out. It was much brighter then and only a hint of moisture in the air - more low cloud than rain I think.

Agaves are very, very spiky and the only way we've seen anyone getting rid of unwanted ones, has been by cutting them up with a chainsaw. Maybe we'll have to wait for the next round of road improvements, when they can push it over the edge.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Our refurbishments

As promised, an early Monday morning photo of what was J's computer corner in the process of being dismantled and early afternoon today after the bread came out of the oven.

As you can see, although the sink is in place, its base unit is not finished but it's
usable and doesn't leak. Pip seems to think the under sink storage is her personal toy-box at the moment. If not there, then the vegetable storage under the central table is equally fascinating.

There are still some things to be moved around or tidied away but it's a vast improvement. The doorway through from the dining room is becoming an archway, instead of a square hole in the wall. The small arch above the cooker needs its bricks tidying up, the other side is the wood burner. The dining room now has lots more space, we have 2 rocking chairs - one either side of the wood burner - which aren't as squashed in now.

Next week, well who knows what we'll be doing. It all depends on the weather. Mariano arrived Thursday to do some olive pruning and he has 3 dry-stone walls that have collapsed and need rebuilding but at the moment there's not much chance of any outside work happening.

Friday, 12 February 2010


We keep a close eye on the weather forecast this time of year as it can be quite unpredictable, but last Sunday we thought we might start olive pruning this week as it had been a lovely end to the week and we fully expected it to continue.
However, after looking at, we changed our plans as the forecast was a mix of showers, sleet and snow - with temperatures to match!

So first thing Monday morning we cleared the doorway to the bodega to start tiling the floor. We now have to go back a few months - or more than a few - when we wondered if it would be possible to put all the kitchen into the bodega and make the dining-kitchen just a dining room. The bodega has always been kitchen storage / fridges and freezers with J having a corner for computers, but the sink (already in situ when we bought the house) and cooker have always been at the end of the dining room. Our problem seemed to be a major one - we couldn't find access for the drainage!

The floor needed to be lowered slightly so there wasn't too much of a difference in levels between the rooms and as J chiselled out the excess concrete, he found the water inlet pipe and the drainage from the sink. That solved our long-ago "I wonder if it's possible" thoughts, and what started off as a tiling job, has turned into a refurbishment. So far we've only spent €34 on plumbing bits, the sink is in place, the cooker has moved (that's easy as it's free standing) we have a large workstation in the middle of the room, with herbs, chillis and garlic hanging above, J is rendering the walls to make them smoother prior to putting on 'capa fina'. This is (as it says) a final coat of white, never needs painting and is washable.

Tomorrow when we are a bit tidier downstairs I'll take before and 1 week later photos. The tiling still hasn't started as there has been a lot of stuff - mostly his - to move and find new homes for. This involved tidying sheds and emptying cupboards in the caravan while remembering where everything had been moved to!

Anyway, the weather forecast turned out to be hopelessly wrong for most of the week, and it's been mostly dry and quite warm some days! But today they forecast snow, and it arrived a couple of hours ago. I went into Ugijar this morning to pick up a few bits of shopping for the weekend and it looked lovely on the road from Yegen via Valor - blue skies, almond trees in full bloom but only 2.5 degrees. No idea how cold it is now, but when I shut the shutters and closed the curtains, there was thick snow falling.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Pruning, pruning and more pruning

And mostly geraniums! Some of them have grown to about a metre high and have got very leggy but with lots of new growth coming from the base. I've been leaving them just in case the weather gets windy or too cold so the new growth is protected but they were looking so tatty I decided to get pruning. Over the last few days I have planted or potted up nearly 50 cuttings and chopped up the stalks and scruffy looking bits for composting. The roses have been done too, not for cuttings just to tidy them up.

In between, we make sure we move firewood from the outside where it has been drying, to undercover to keep all the stocks for everyday use. We restocked on Wednesday, drizzle was forecast for Thursday but it started to rain about 5am and when we eventually got up, found that we were in the clouds. I say eventually, because although Monty and Pip love to go for walks, even they don't enjoy going out in the rain. We are normally up and out by 8am-ish but Thursday it was nearer 9am before we surfaced.

By the afternoon it was dry and warm and Pip went to the vet to be de-stitched.

Friday - lovely and warm and sunny. We had breakfast outside on the terrace and lunch in the garden. Saturday and today we have had warm weather again. Yesterday was totally clear blue sky all day whereas today has been hazy/cloudy but still 16 degrees this afternoon in the shade.

And finally for this week.....the steps down from the side garden to the acequia are done. I've planted some trailing plants and aloe vera's in the ground to the left side to hold it together, also the rain runs off the plants and doesn't wash away the soil. We used to have steps cut into the soil, now we have the rustic equivalent of a sweeping staircase!!

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Last of the pista (for now )

This is almost the last blog about the road....that is until they start on the final version!

I was pruning geraniums this morning and heard a long awaited sound from down the pista. Went out to look and lo and behold - a tractor! But no ordinary tractor, this had a "spade" on the front to push soil with and a bucket on the back to lift and move stuff.

At 10am he was approaching the landslide, making a ramp up from it over the acequia, moving all the soil and concrete acequia onto the other side where there is a flat terrace of olive trees before pushing it the opposite way to fill the hole.

Then he moved 'slices' of soil and plants from edge of the rutted slope above to gradually make a flat curved area as the new road.
By 1 pm he was done and on the way back down, smoothing the surface as he went.

We have walked down to look, (and take photos) it's obviously soft but is dry - the tractor doesn't have the weight of a JCB to pack the soil down. We don't need to go out as we went yesterday so we are waiting for the first through-traffic since about December 20th to pass by. Maybe tomorrow, it's Cadiars' market day and normally someone goes down.