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!

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Hot or wot!

It just touched 36 degrees this afternoon  (must find out how to get a little circle instead of having to write the word each time - I'll ask my personal technical support person later)   but the clouds are building up over the Sierra Nevada once again.   Yesterday, late afternoon, there was a rumble of thunder way up high as well.  Depending which weather forecast you look at, today we were supposed to have a high of 25 - so that was way off!!   That forecast also says rain as from 6pm - now that wouldn't surprise me at all.  The clouds are those huge, high, shiny ones that build and build higher and higher.  We quite often get spectacular thunder storms this time of the year, not always with rain though.   Sometimes it's just forked lightening over the Sierras and sheet lightening to the south over the Contraviesa.

Because of the cloud build-up yesterday, we didn't get to see any shooting stars.  John saw one or two the night before but that was after waiting up till midnight.  The main event - according to our night sky book - is August 12th, so we maybe in with a chance tomorrow night.

And here it is - the very same book, as given to J for a pressie a few years ago.

P.S. you don't have to buy this book, if you click on the amazon logo it takes you to their home page and if you buy anything at all, then they pay us a commission.  Normal price for you,  less profit for them.

Tech support has been and visited and now I know how:   36°C  

Sunday, 8 August 2010

San Lorenzo

Tuesday August 10th is San Lorenzo  -   Wikipedia says this about him.....

St Lawrence is one of the most widely venerated saints of the Roman Catholic Church. Devotion to him was widespread by the 4th century. As his martyrdom occurred very early in Church history, many other Christians honor him as well. Since the Perseid Meteor Shower typically occurs every year in mid-August, on or near Saint Lawrence's feast day, some refer to the shower as the "Tears of Saint Lawrence."

So providing the clouds keep away, (it's been quite hazy today although still 30 degrees)  we will be outside watching for the shooting stars,  and keeping ourselves fortified with a  taste of this years of fig wine.

Friday, 6 August 2010

A glut of cucumbers

I'm not sure exactly how many makes a glut, but so far we have picked 22 cucumbers from just 2 plants.   And they continue to flower with lots more in various stages of growth. It's just as well that not all the seeds have done as well - 4 plants have grown and grown but not produced a single flower.   It may be that they are from collected seed which is sterile, not sure.

Some of the 22 I've pickled sliced in vinegar, some sliced in sweet vinegar;  we are eating lots as tapas - cut into sticks and used to eat dips.  Garlic mayo is a favourite  but  last night we had a selection of dips made from roasted aubergines as they are also growing rapidly. 1 dip had garlic, 1 with smoked paprika, 1 with ground cumin and 1 with cayenne pepper. And they all had lots of olive oil in and  all tasted very good.   9 aubergines  so far this past fortnight and I counted 21 more of differing sizes this morning.  Another glut coming?!

Thursday, 5 August 2010

A nosy tomato.

Remember the Esther Rantzen show?  With - amongst other things -  pictures of weird vegetables? 

Amongst  today's   5.5  kilos of tomatoes was this one.   I leave it up to your imagination as to what is looks like but I think it's another nosy one.  Not as big as yesterdays, much more regular in size -  if not in shape. 

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Not a euro standard tomato!

Apart from being such a peculiar shape,  it weighed in at 350 grams.  Not sure if it was trying to be 2 tomatoes and divide itself somehow - it's also trying to grow a nose!

The rest of yesterday's tomatoes were perfectly normal,  various sizes from what I call salad up to beef tomatoes.  But this one?  Definitely different!

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Fresh lemonade

If you're lucky enough to have a lemon tree outside your back door,  making lemonade would seem a sensible thing to do.  But most recipes I've come across use loads and loads of sugar which doesn't sound  very healthy.  Yesterday I found a recipe that uses much less sugar and I made a double batch this morning.  It made over 2 litres,  we have just had a glass each with our lunch, diluted with gaseosa which is a Spanish drink, sort of a slightly sweetened lemony soda water. 

3 large lemons
90g sugar
750ml boiling water

Cut the lemons up into small pieces - peel, pips and all.
Add to a blender with 30g sugar and 250ml boiling water.
Whizz, strain and return pulp to blender.
30g more sugar, 250ml more water, whizz, strain and return pulp to blender.
30g more sugar, 250ml more water, whizz, strain and squeeze pulp.
Put in a bottle in the fridge to cool.

Apparently very nice with a drop of gin - or vodka if it's for me.   Might try a glass tonight.

I found the recipe here   - thank you  to Fergus and his human companions.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Summer neighbours

Someone's asked me if I could write more frequently to which I said, but I only write or post photos when there is something of interest to write about.  But, she said, I like to come home from work, log on and catch up with everything that's happened as it helps keep me going until the next time we're over.  (She and her husband have a house nearby and come for every holiday they can)

Our next door neighbours are down from Granada for the summer, they have a house in Yator that they sleep in and come up here all day every day.  They have a plunge pool - 3metres by 2 - big enough for the children to spend endless hours in.  Carmen - the grandmother - is chief cook and TV watcher in true Spanish style, Mari spends a lot of time stretched out on a sunbed by the pool usually getting splashed by her children while Miguel, her husband, has a new toy this summer.  He's bought a strimmer and can be heard  clearing anything that he thinks are weeds or grass and therefore unwanted.  It's partly in an effort to keep wildlife and insects away from around the house but he doesn't seem to know the difference between grasses, geraniums, iris and some low growing fleshy plant with red flowers that we have everywhere but don't know it's name.  So all the flowers that I'd planted around where we all park our cars are now no more.  They were only cuttings that were spare, but did brighten up the edges and more to the point, the roots help hold the soil together when it rains.  When I was chatting to Mari and Carmen, I said to them, have you seen what he's been up to?  Mari said the equivalent of "boys and their toys!"   It's not the first time, last summer he chopped out nearly all the flowers she'd put in outside their front door as part of his grand tidy up.  At least the roots are still there so they should regrow.  Next time the strimmer comes out, I'm going to stand guard! 

Saturday he set off down their terraces clearing the undergrowth.  On the way down he managed to "prune" the 20 foot high, enormously bushy bay tree down to something that resembles a lollipop.  Lots of bay leaves now drying on the terrace under the grape vine.  Luckily he is working this week so everything is ok until the weekend!