Friday, 26 March 2010

Every picture tells a story

I wouldn't like to be explaining this to my boss!!

Not much in the papers apart from this

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Oh dear!

You can tell when the weather is bad because you get more to read! Come the summer - whenever that may be - you'll be lucky to get a couple of posts a month.

The JCB finally got the pista cleared Thursday lunchtime and so on Friday we did a big shop. Basically if it was heavy, bulky and/or long lasting, we bought it. Things like 2 sacks of dog food, big tins of tuna and mackerel fillets, litres and litres of milk, bags of dried beans and pasta etc. Actually, J went armed with a list while I took advantage of the nice dry day to catch up with the washing, put the rugs out on the balcony for a good shake while I washed the floors and started planting some seeds - brussels, coriander, cucumber and courgettes so far.

Saturdays forecast was rain yet again, so we did an early trip all around the top road and down to Cadiar to change the gas bottle and pick up bread flour, a sack of potatoes and some tile cement. And the pista, I hear you ask. Well, the mud has been shovelled away, likewise the rocks although there are some to drive round, and it's a bit narrow in places. The surface is either rough or squidgy but it's passable. The rain, more like steady drizzle, started at 5pm yesterday and hasn't stopped yet.

At 8am this morning Pip, Monty and I went off for a walk up through Montenegro to see the state of the newly cleared pista and found this. Oh dear! Is it parked or did it slip, I'm not sure. And how to get it out?

The wine in Spine.

I had different names for this post..."the generosity of friends" or maybe "vintage vino" but when J sent the photos up to me he called it "the wine in Spine"

(Actually today it should be called the rain in Spain - again!)

Anyway the point of this is about the wine.

Way back in the 1980's Mariano lived and worked in Hannover, importing Spanish wine. Last week, he gave us a bottle to drink with our lunch, then said take this one and this one as well but let them stand so the sediment can settle before decanting. A couple of days later, he gave us another bottle. When we had a good look at the labels, we realised they were old wines, 2 from 1982, 1 from 1983 and the last from 1987. We drank the Cerro Añon for lunch - as instructed - and then decanted the Sabatacha Real and sipped it slowly during the next few evenings as it is (or was) 16%!

The Cerro Añon was an '87 wine, bottled in '92 and made Reserva Limitada in '96 - no wonder J needed a siesta that afternoon.

We have two bottles left which need decanting, I do believe it's Easter soon so we have something special for Easter Sunday.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Free onions

On March 6th I mentioned the free onion idea that J had seen on the Instructables website and as you can see, it really does work! Not all have put up shoots yet, some I think I left too long before planting out and they had started to dry up. Now I put the bases in a bit of water to keep them moist until there are a few, then go and plant. And we're spreading them about, on different terraces just in case. Every veg patch has a slightly different type of soil, amount of sun, shade etc. Spread about, something must work! Thanks to J for the photo this afternoon.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Accesso !???

Well, today's hot news is that a JCB is on it's way down from Yegen doing a temporary clearance which is taking some time because as fast as Manolo clears the slurps, more is coming down. Not a job I'd like to do, Mariano said some more rocks are rolling down as well. At lunchtime, he was about halfway to Montenegro and we don't think he made it all the way today. We'll find out tomorrow when we see Mariano as we are working on his land this week, re-building stone walls. One wall has completely disappeared under the soil and he is going to get a lorry load of stones delivered so we can replace it. We are digging out enough soil to put in foundations, but because the soil is so wet, can only do a bit at a time and then have to leave it to dry out before digging more. However, he has 3 walls to be done, plus the end of his drive has collapsed and needs rebuilding and some of the posts that support the grape vine wires are seriously wobbly as they've been put on the edge of a banking and - yes, the rain has washed away some of the supporting soil. They have been cleared out all around ready for more concrete to be put in the holes.

Today's Spanish lesson - a dry stone wall is balate, a stone wall with cement is muro and brick walls (normally in a house) are paredes.

These photos show how the land and olive trees have subsided under the weight of the wet soil. One has gone down about 4 metres onto the next terrace, two others are down over a metre. All the trees are still upright and look healthy enough, they are just much lower. As John said to Mariano, they'll be easier to harvest next year!

Also as you can see, the orange trees are shedding fruit faster than we can pick and eat. We have oranges for elevenses and at lunchtime and came home with 30 or so to squeeze.

Plus, it's hot and sunny at last!

Saturday, 13 March 2010

What a difference a year makes!

Looking back, this weekend a year ago we were getting up to 16 degrees in the morning and it was still 21 in the late afternoon. Today it hasn't got above 8.8. Needless to say the wood burners are alight so we are all warm and toasty.

It seems to be continually cloudy at the moment in the Alpujarras and although drizzle is forecast at least that hasn't happened. It does mean indoor things are getting done as it's not the sort of weather that makes you think I'll go outside and dig. The soil is probably too cold to plant up anyway, and there seems little point in digging and weeding now when it'll need doing again because after all this rain, the soil is still leaking water and the weeds are having a wonderful growing season.

We have had a day or two of dry warmish weather this past week and have been out with the dogs for an afternoon walk, a friend came up to use the internet as the bar with internet access in Yator has closed - not sure if it's a permanent closure or not - and we've been into Ugijar on the new super highway!  The state of the roads around the area is summarised here.

So to brighten up this gloomy day here are the latest pics of our new (or at least "in-progress") Alpujarran kitchen.

The doorway has been rendered after the old doors were ripped out - four years ago! They weren't wasted though as they became the doors for my shed. The strange-looking contraption is our fruit-press that we use in wine-making.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

3 rain-free days!!

but not all together, that would be too much to hope for. But Monday, Thursday and Friday were all warm, dry and sunny. We even had lunch outside in the sunshine. But today and for the next few days it's forecast to drizzle. It's nothing personal, the whole of Spain is wet. Strangely the temperature is absolutely level, day and night it's due to be about 7 or 8 degrees.

So when it's been dry I've been tidying the garden and have put some more broad beans, peas and potatoes in. We don't plant many, just those that have started to sprout indoors, they get cut up and planted out. Also J saw on a website called Instructables - people's ideas of how to make or do things, sometimes quite unusual ideas - that if you plant the base of the onion when you cut it off to peel the onion, it will grow new roots and put up shoots. You can then divide the onion if there is more than one shoot, and eventually you get a free onion. If it works, we never need buy an onion again. Anyway, it seems worth a try so all onion bases are now being planted.

J has made a new drain in the corner of the front garden as the one we had just hasn't coped with all this rain and the garden floods every time it rains. Monty and Pips kennel also fills with rain, their bed gets sodden and takes days to dry so we moved the kennel out from the corner until the new drain was in place. All is finished, the rain is going out the drain and watering the roses and geraniums outside and the kennel is bone-dry.

Yesterday we had a log-splitting day. Well, he chainsaws and splits and I re-stack. It's all wood from last years pruning that is just too big to get in either wood burner. We still haven't had enough dry time to do any pruning this year. Hopefully soon!

On wet days it's on-going kitchen wall rendering and capa fina-ing, tiling round the sink, all things that need to be done before the floor is tiled. I've just finished a batch of baking - 3 loaves, 8 rolls and lots of cornish pasties for the freezer.

The final stretch of new road around here is open, from Yator to Ugijar. It takes 8 minutes now, the old road took about 20 minutes. There are still problems on other roads due to the ongoing rain and we have no date for our track upgrade. Mariano says the cost was €190,000 to concrete it but it's now a rebuild and will be €300,000 of which the Ayuntamiento of Cadiar has to find €30,000 more than was already budgeted and they say they can't afford it. There must be a big call on all councils money after this winter although we did read that central government are providing millions of euros to repair the damage caused. So we will continue to think twice before buying anything and carry what we need from the car a few times a week - it's a sort of mobile larder! One of our neighbours has 6 dogs up here and last Saturday carried up a 20 kg sack of food, followed the next day by a large sack of dry bread for them. I'm looking forward to 6pm today to see what he's staggering up with this week!