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.