Thursday, 29 March 2012

Chilli seeds

A change of plan this morning as after I'd sorted out the washing pile and got it into the machine,  I noticed there was no power to it.  The first thing to check for is always  evidence of the wretched rats but no sign of them having done anything so then I came and looked indoors and everything was off. 

Normally when the electric is planned to be off, there is a notice in Yator,  we were down there yesterday and neither of us saw one, but then we remembered that today there was a  general strike planned - maybe the cut off was part of that.  Obviously no way of finding out without TV or internet so instead I got out the seed packets to start planting.  And I found that we now have 7 different types of chilli seeds.  For the last 2 years we have bought some plug plants as our seeds were taking so long to germinate, so that explains 2 varieties.  One of the Paco's gave us a string of dried chillis that we have kept seeds from for a few years and this year one of those grew in a completely different way so 2 varieties have become 3.  Another Paco grew some that were pink turning orangey as they ripened and the plants were only about a foot high but dripping with chillis - another variety stored.   And then we have our originals which came from seeds grown by our neighbour Manolo. 

Each type is stored in a self-seal bag and labelled.  But as we have no idea what any of them really are they have their own names:    Paco's long reds,   Paco's pinks,  scotch bonnets (although they look more like a tiny bell pepper,)  droopy reds,  ours 2010,  ours 2011,  and finally jalopeños which we know aren't jalopeños because the green is too pale and the shape is wrong but the taste is similar.  They are mild enough to eat raw stuffed with  cream cheese or roasted with garlic and vegetables, sliced on pizzas or added to salads or sandwiches. 

I've put pots of seeds into the raised bed and covered with fleece against the birds and - this week anyway - a cool easterly breeze.  The radish seeds that were out of date are all growing but still covered until they are stronger.  Lots of birds around that bed,  maybe looking for worms and insects,  but  I've seen them pecking very close to the new leaves. 

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Another week gone by.

What a quick week that was!   Out shopping on Sunday morning with a friend, only to the local market, stopped for a coffee and sat out in the sunshine. 

Lots and lots of pruning done this week too,  all those dead geranium stalks have been cut down and thrown away.  About 3 wheelbarrow loads altogether!  Trimmed back all the border plants as well as they have new growth at the base but crunchy tops.  Made a new herb bed under the olive tree in the front garden, filled with parsley, chives and a water pot of mint.  Watered and weeded the new herbs that are starting to grow over in the veg patch, the rocket appeared within a few days and now the coriander is up too.  The first broad beans are showing and the peas have suddenly decided to grow up the bean stalks so they too should be flowering soon.  Planted cucumber seeds in pots which are partly sunk into the raised bed to keep warm and then covered with fleece as a few nights have been chilly.  Also used up the last of a packet of radishes and covered them against the chill.  Don't know if they will grow as it is a packet from a couple of years ago that has got forgotten about.  Sometimes it doesn't seem to matter the date of the seeds whereas other vegetable varieties can be very temperamental.  I work on the idea that if there's space, sprinkle them in and wait and see.  Plenty of time to add the most recently bought seeds if these don't do anything.

Spring seems to have deserted us today, it's been glorious for days and days, rained a bit on March 2nd and again on the evening of the 19th, today is just dull and overcast but it is trying to drizzle - without much success though. 

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Mothers Day.

An early 'happy Mother's Day'  but only for those mothers in the UK!    In Spain  Dia de la Madre is celebrated on the first Sunday in May,  not that it helps anyone  because son Mat  lives in Paris - and the French celebration for Fête des Meres is on the last Sunday in May.  Confusing.

The only reason we know that it is Mothering Sunday,  is because we were watching something on the television,  the adverts came on - chocolate, perfume, special meal deals - all for Mothers Day.  Had a quick look at google for dates and the first thing I read said Mothering Sunday is the 4th Sunday in Lent, which starts on Ash Wednesday the day after pancake day - I know it's not called pancake day really, it's Shrove Tuesday - but that didn't help as we missed that.  No pancakes this year. 

So I am going to make a diary note on my computer for next year so I don't miss it,  we don't watch much  tv at all and it was pure luck that we saw those adverts.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Signs of Spring.

First sights and sounds of Spring over the last couple of days,  the peach tree and pear tree in the front garden have burst into bloom, the first poppy appeared yesterday out by the pool - but was gone this afternoon - very short lived!    At sunset tonight we saw the first bat flying around the house,  I've just been out with Monty and Pip for this evening's walk  and there are crickets chirping in the olive groves.

The best thing has been the temperature today,  20.6° at 3.30 this afternoon in the shade of the terrace.

The worst thing?   Spring time brings the start of ticks on the dogs and Monty was today's winner with 2 tiny ticks under his 'armpit'  (if dogs can have armpits - maybe his legpit)

The forecast tomorrow is for much the same,  whatever happened to our winter rain and snow?  Kept being forecast but never arrived.  One  showery start to the day 10 days ago but that barely dampened the ground.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Lost sheep

Early this morning one of our many Paco's we have as neighbours was at his cortijo with his wife,  we don't normally see anyone around at 8 am, certainly not anyone who has had to come down from Yegen.  The ground floor of his cortijo is for his animals,  over the last year he has got more and more,  pigs, chickens, rabbits and goats.  He also has some outbuildings and it sounds as though the chickens and rooster live in one of them.  Certainly that's where the morning 'cock-a-doodle-do'  comes from.  He said the goats were not his but a friends and they are living here to be fattened up.  He thinks goats are ugly and doesn't like them, but they are eating all the trimmings and strimmings from various peoples land as they tidy for the summer season.

So this morning as we wandered past, he called out something unintelligable - I asked him to repeat it as he is difficult to understand at the best of times,  that early in the morning not being fully awake it was even harder.  'Have you seen my ovejas'  he asked  (ovejas being sheep.)  I didn't know he had sheep but he said   'I have lost 1 big one and 2 chicatillas'  (very little ones)

I assume that's why he and his wife Teresa  came down so early today,  hoping that the sheep had made their way home - just like Little Bo Peeps did.   I don't know what the chances are of them coming back,  looking around at the rocky hillsides, the steep barrancas down to the river,   hearing foxes barking in the night,  I think they are long gone.

Monday, 5 March 2012


When you wake up to this  (on February 4th)

and the high for the day is 5°,  you start to think that perhaps it's time to do indoor things.  Maybe not wood work as the wood and tools are in an outside shed, but a tidying type of job.   Over the past 35 years we have accumulated an unmentionable number of photos, slides and negatives, most of them have been sorted into albums but there are years in the early 80's that do not seem to exist except on slides.   Years back we had a projector but no idea where that went,  we also have negatives of varying sizes that we have no photos of,  so the idea at the start of February was to get prints from both the slides and negatives and add them to the existing albums.

Funny how projects seem to grow and grow!   John has done the bulk of the work as he has a slide reader (I think that's what it is) and software that can tweak the pictures so they look as good as new.  I have gone from my computer-stored photos and made us up to date from when we moved here in 2003.  He is still going back in time, having found negatives from the early 70's!

Numerous glue sticks, sheets of paper and plastic wallets later, we have the bulk of our life now recorded and lookable-at.  There seems little point in taking all these photos if you can't look at them,  and we are amazed at pictures that neither of us recall taking,  neither the people nor the place.   A lot we can estimate a year for,  then it's been a case of thinking  'the last pictures your hair was curly, now in these it's slightly longer/straighter,  that t-shirt was in the last one too so it's probably the same year'. 

And so to the new pictures of me  at the top of  this blog.   The one that has been there ever since I started writing was taken at Chateauneuf-du-Pape on the way down here in September 2003.  About time for a change really,  and  John has put up a selection taken over the years, dating back to the late 70's when we first met,  up to last week - me in a red t shirt.   If you wait long enough it'll come on - they are set to change at random, not in date order.

Friday, 2 March 2012

A tapping Tit.

I'm  the early morning dog walker in this house,  John gets the coffee pot on and breakfast sorted if we're having any.   No reason why it should be this way,  it's just a routine that we've got into. 

One day last week, I'd gone out, he was getting dressed, and he heard a tapping coming from the lounge.  It stopped then started again.  He said it sounded like it was  on the lounge window.  Nothing strange in that you might think, but our lounge window goes out onto a balcony and is first floor, not ground floor.  So quite difficult to tap on it unless you are a bird! 

When he went into the lounge he saw what it was  -  a Great Tit,  it flies up onto the balcony, then onto the window frame and taps on the glass.  Flies off for a few minutes and returns.  It's been doing this every morning now for about a week.  Starts at about 8 am and comes and goes for a couple of hours.   Does it want feeding?  Does it see it's  reflection in the glass and think there's a mate or friend in here?  Tried to get a photo of it, but the window faces south and it's back-lit in the morning so no luck.  Any ideas as to what it wants or is this normal behaviour?